Elder Eduardo Gavarret has become well acquainted with change.
Indeed, since the recently called member of the First Quorum of the Seventy returned from his full-time mission decades ago, his life has been marked by almost perpetual change. Professional opportunities prompted moves to several different countries for the Gavarret family. Meanwhile, with each stop and in each new land, Elder Gavarret accepted a variety of leadership callings ranging from bishop to Area Authority Seventy.
But in each new home, country and calling, Elder Gavarret said, he and his wife, Sister Norma Gavarret, and their three children enjoyed the constant, unchanging guidance and direction of the Lord.
But work transfers were not responsible for such changes, said Elder Gavarret, 52. "It was the Lord who took us to these places so we could serve in the best possible manner."
The native Uruguayan learned early the lessons of service. When he was 6, his mother, Elsa Inzaurralde de Gavarret, and two of his siblings decided to join the Church. Young Eduardo was baptized two years later in a swimming pool at a rented house that doubled as the meetinghouse for the small branch in the city of Minas.
"There were very few members of the branch — but they were very active in the activities of the Church," remembered Elder Gavarret.
The missionaries were frequent guests at the Gavarret home. They offered a day-to-day example of serving others that would influence Eduardo as he prepared for his own full-time mission.
Further lessons of service were learned as branch members joined in the construction of their own meetinghouse.
He was inspired watching the members of the branch do their part to help. Young Eduardo was enlisted to gather up the nails that had fallen to the ground.
Through the selfless example of his mother, the missionaries and his fellow branch members, young Eduardo came to love the gospel community that he would be a part of in several countries in the future. "The Church was central to our lives," he said. Through the Church, Eduardo learned organization, discipline, how to give talks, how to sing. He made eternal friendships.
Elder Gavarret's father, Juan Gavarret, would never join the Church. Still, he provided constant support for the family's Church activity. When Elder Gavarret was still a boy, he began working in his father's watch repair business. After earning his first paycheck, he asked his father what he should do with his money. The senior Gavarret's response: pay your tithing.
While the Church was growing in the 1970s, full-time missionary service was not yet common for young men in the region. But thanks largely to the example of the many missionaries who had been through the Gavarret home, Eduardo anxiously accepted a call to the Uruguay-Paraguay Mission.
That decision to leave home and serve God would craft a template that defines Elder Gavarret's life even today. He would not do it alone. Following his mission, Elder Gavarret returned to Minas and began courting Norma Gorgoroso, a young convert who had belonged to the branch since she was 14.
She was introduced to the missionaries through a neighbor. Though she was just a teen, the missionaries' message, she said, touched her spirit. She accepted their baptismal invitation.
Elder and Sister Gavarret have enjoyed a relationship based on shared values, faith and respect. They are the parents of three children (Yuri, Ivan and Nadia) and have three grandchildren.
Elder Gavarret calls his wife his "friend since youth, my girlfriend, my wife and my eternal companion. I always knew she was consecrated to do the things of the Lord."
Sister Gavarret appreciates the example her husband has set for her children. It's not enough "just to explain the principles of the gospel — you must demonstrate those principles in your life."
Elder Gavarret's career in the pharmaceutical industry would take the family throughout South America. In Paraguay, he was a bishop. In Bolivia, a stake president. In Brazil, a temple worker and an Area Seventy. And in Peru, again, a member of a bishopric. In each country, he would find himself in the service of fellow members he and Sister Gavarret would come to love like their friends from their first tiny branch in Minas.
In 2003, Elder Gavarret enjoyed a return "home" of sorts when he was called to preside over the Paraguay Asuncion Mission. Much of that mission covered the same areas he had once traveled to find, teach and baptize while a young missionary.
Again, the Gavarrets packed their bags, said good-bye to friends and began a new period of service. Like many young mission presidents, Elder Gavarret stepped away from a successful career to accept the full-time responsibility. Still, the Gavarrets trusted in the Lord and found joy in their service.
Watching families in Paraguay accept the gospel and prepare for the blessings of the temple in Asuncion "was something marvelous," said Sister Gavarret.
When the Gavarrets finished their three-year mission, several job offers were awaiting the newly released president. Now a new calling to the Quorum of the Seventy means, again, new responsibilities, a different mailing address and life lived on the move.
"Our only desire is to serve," said Elder Gavarret, who has found lives can be blessed when members magnify their callings.
As a mother and a grandmother, Sister Gavarret said much comfort can be found through scripture study and prayer. Because of the family's frequent moves, the Gavarret children did not live close to grandparents and relatives. "But the Church has always been our family," she said.
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