Elder E Ray Bateman loves to watch the gospel change people's lives for the better. For him, the desire to share the gospel is constant.
"Missionary work, if you have ever done it, is the greatest feeling in the world," the new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy told the Church News. "If you have not done it, you ought to."Currently serving as president of the California Carlsbad Mission, Elder Bateman, 60, who was sustained as a General Authority April 4, will begin his new assignment this August after facing only one major challenge: saying goodbye to his missionaries.
Elder Bateman's desire to share the gospel came long before he was old enough to serve a mission. After his 12th birthday, when he received the Aaronic Priesthood, the young Ray Bateman had a desire to share his big news with everyone: including a young girl his age of another faith.
"She said, `What's [the priesthood]?' recalled Elder Bateman. "And I thought then and there, this is important to me and very special to me."
So special, he knew he could not keep his knowledge of the restored gospel to himself.
At 19, he left his home in Sandy, Utah, where he had grown up, to serve a mission in Canada. The experience was pivotal in his life, as he shared the gospel, cemented his own testimony, and felt the mantle of a missionary. Before he left the mission field, others told him he would lose the missionary mantle.
"I found that is not true," he said. "When you say to someone . . ., `Would you like to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it,' that feeling of missionary work always comes back. It is always there."
While studying general education at the University of Utah as a returned missionary, Elder Bateman did his most important missionary work. He met Mira Dorene Odette. She was not a member of the Church so Elder Bateman asked her: "What do you know about the Mormon Church and would you like to know more?"
"I said yes," said the woman who Elder Bateman baptized and then later married. Today the couple, who were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple July 25, 1963, have five children and 9 grandchildren.
The Batemans call their life together ordinary. "We are just typical Mormons," he noted, just as he said his parents were.
As a child, Elder Bateman's father, Marlon S. Bateman, was always busy with Church work. The young Ray Bateman earned extra money doing farm work in Sandy. He herded cows, helped vaccinate chickens, and weeded miles and miles of beet rows.
His family also had a one-half acre garden and the four children - all boys - took responsibility for it. Together they weeded, irrigated and harvested the annual crop, which Elder Bateman remembers was often passed on to neighbors, family friends or Church members. Often the recipients of the family crop would offer to gather the food themselves, but Elder Bateman's father always insisted: "My boys will pick it for you."
Elder Bateman also learned a simple habit in his youth that has stayed with him. "Summers in Sandy were hot. We would always sleep outside, get up early in the morning - just as soon as it got light - and take care of the garden," he recalled. "Since then getting up early in the morning is something I have always done."
Today, Elder Bateman starts his day around 4:30 a.m. It is a trait that he said has helped him at home, Church and work.
Elder Bateman did not receive a college degree - instead he went to work to support his family.
After their marriage, the Batemans moved from Utah to California where Elder Bateman worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. During the next 32 years the family - which would eventually include five children - also lived in Denver, Colo., and New Jersey before settling in St. Charles, Mo., where they lived for 23 years. During this time he worked in a myriad of positions, as a sales manager, consultant, and with the company's education program.
They never made a lot of money and Elder Bateman traveled a lot but "it worked for us," he said.
When Elder Bateman was transferred from Denver to New York City, the family had a hard time finding a house they could afford. Finally "we got into a little place in New Jersey," he recalled. "I remember our real estate agent saying, `I guess you will make it, but you will have to eat hot dogs and beans.'
"And," added Elder Bateman, "we made it."
The move to New York also helped the Batemans realize how important the Church can be in the lives of its members.
There, through an LDS business club, Elder Bateman made dozens of new friends over night. "I think at the corporate headquarters of Bristol-Myers they could not believe that I could move to New York City from Denver, Colo., and all of a sudden have so many friends.
"Any place we have moved we have been involved in the Church," he explained.
Because the Batemans spent the majority of their married lives away from Utah and their families, they traveled to Utah during yearly vacations. It was during these trips - filled with wonderful memories - that the Bateman children got to know their grandparents.
But for Elder and Sister Bateman, the family's greatest moment came last July, when their youngest daughter was married in the San Diego California Temple. "It was the first time that all of our children and their spouses were in the temple at the same time," recalled Elder Bateman. "It was a feeling that you will never forget. You count your many blessings. . . . We have found that what is the most meaningful thing in this world is the gospel that binds us together."
The same gospel teachings that brought the Batemans happiness in the temple has also carried them through hard times - such as the death of their 9-day-old granddaughter.
The experience gave the whole family a testimony "of what eternal families really are," said Sister Bateman.
"We realized that our family has a member of it who is waiting for us," Elder Bateman added. "She will be there; it is up to us to get there with her."
He said that fulfilling Church callings has also cemented his testimony of the gospel. Over the years, he has served as a bishop's counselor five times, a bishop twice and a high councilor. He also served as a Sunday School teacher, a stake mission president, a multi-region welfare agent, and a counselor in an inner city branch presidency.
And in every capacity he found one constant: opportunities to do missionary work.
After early retirement, Elder Bateman was called as a mission president.
"We have always said we don't turn a call down," he explained. "Whatever the call is you say, `Yes, I will do it!' and then do it the best you possibly can."
And that is the philosophy, said his wife, that he has carried into his current assignment and that will sustain him as a General Authority.
"This is a mission president that won't even take preparation days," said Sister Bateman.
Elder Bateman is quick to clarify. In two years, he explained, he has taken two days off for preparation.
"One a year," he said, "that is enough."
Elder E Ray Bateman
Family: Born Oct. 20, 1937, in Sandy, Utah, to Marlon Samuel and Mary Armstrong Bateman. Married Mira Dorene Odette Bateman; five children: Berdette Ek, Diane Lavender, Brad, Sean, and Tara Smart; 9 grandchildren.
Education: Attended BYU and the University of Utah.
Military Service: U.S. Air Force Reserve, Utah National Guard.
Employment: Retired sales manager for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Church service: President of the California Carlsbad Mission, June 1996-present; former multi-region welfare director, stake mission president, bishop, Sunday School teacher, and high councilor.