This year three sets of brothers have served as temple presidents in diverse locations throughout the world. This week the Church News looks at all six of them and their families and their contributions to temple work across the globe:
David B. Galbraith and B. John Galbraith
David B. Galbraith and his brother B. John Galbraith — two of Beth and Bruce Galbraith’s 10 children — grew up in Raymond, Alberta, where they worked with their father to make ends meet. “We were poor but never knew it,” President John Galbraith said. “Mom and dad made sure we had the necessities of life. Besides, everyone had financial struggles in our town, so who was counting?”
Living in the small farming community, just 40 miles from Cardston, Alberta, the brothers remember watching their parents attend the temple. “They spoke fondly of their temple experiences and we listened with the ears of youth hardly realizing the influence our parents were having upon us in instilling an absolute desire to be worthy to be [sealed] one day in the temple,” said President David Galbraith.
Their father served in a bishopric and later as a bishop, in the small community. “Growing up, we stayed true to the faith that our parents cherished,” said John Galbraith.
President David Galbraith, the oldest in the family, served in the Swiss/Austrian Mission and President John Galbraith, the third-born, served in Belgium and France.
In many ways both brothers have mirrored each other in Church service. Both taught at Church universities; both served as bishops; both served as stake presidents; both served as mission presidents — one in Siberia, Russia, and the other in Bulgaria.
Each brother also lived abroad. David and Frieda Galbraith lived for more than 20 years in Jerusalem, Israel, while John and Carol Galbraith have spent eight years serving in the former Soviet Union.
“Then, to both be called as temple presidents was a capstone experience in life,” said President John Galbraith.
John and Carol Galbraith are serving as temple president and matron in Kyiv, Ukraine, while David and Frieda Galbraith are finishing their three years as temple president and matron in Montreal, Canada.
“While our time in the temple was spent in the service of others, we quickly learned that it works both ways. As we magnified our calling we, in turn, were magnified,” said President David Galbraith. “We have learned that a temple setting, whether it is in Montreal or Provo, or wherever a temple may be, is truly a ‘millennial’ experience and the more often we attend and immerse ourselves in the things of the Spirit the better it gets.”
Each brother says he owes much to faithful parents, who, as President David Galbraith points out, didn’t know they were “preparing at least two of their sons to be worthy to be called as a [temple] president one day.”
President Santiago Mejia and President Zeniff Mejia
Santiago Mejia smiles when he speaks of the familiar, heartfelt greeting he and his younger brother, Zeniff Mejia, exchange whenever they speak on the phone.
“I will ask Zeniff, ‘How are you, my dear president?’ He will answer, ‘Fine, how are you, my dear president?’ ”
The Mejia brothers share more than a blood relation and family memories. Both preside over temples in their native Mexico — a nation of 12 such edifices that has been aptly dubbed “land of temples.” President Santiago Mejia was called to be president of the Mexico City Mexico Temple in 2009. A year later, President Zeniff Mejia accepted an identical assignment at the Merida Mexico Temple.
Simultaneously presiding over temples “was a surprise” to the Mejia brothers, said Zeniff Mejia — “but it has been a wonderful blessing.”
The brothers grew up in the Church in the Mexican state of Puebla at a time when the Church was establishing deep roots throughout the nation. Both learned early the importance of Church service. They also developed a deep love for family history research that would serve them well in their present callings.
Frequent trips to the Mesa Arizona Temple instilled in the young Mejia brothers a lifelong love for the temple and its eternal purposes. They both rejoiced when Mexico’s first temple — the Mexico City Mexico Temple — was dedicated in 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency.
Since then, they have witnessed the miracle of prolific temple building in their native land. Temples dot the Mexican landscape, from Ciudad Juarez in the north to Tuxtla Gutierrez in the south.
Both men were well prepared when they began their tenure as temple presidents. President Santiago Mejia had served in the Mexico City temple and as a missionary in the Church History Department, along with receiving several local leadership assignments. President Zeniff Mejia, meanwhile, also fulfilled leadership assignments and served as a counselor in the Villahermosa Tabasco Temple presidency prior to his calling in Merida.
The brothers don’t typically seek one another’s counsel in temple administration matters. “The challenges in our districts are different,” explained President Zeniff Mejia.
“But we often speak of the meaning and beauty of the temple and the beauty of the temple ordinances,” added President Santiago Mejia.
President Santiago Mejia is fast approaching his release date at the Mexico City temple. He looks forward to visiting his brother in Merida and worshipping together in the temple. He is confident that any family in the Church can become a “temple family” if they place the gospel and the lessons of the temple at the center of their lives.
President G. Richard Oscarson and President Paul K. Oscarson
For G. Richard and Paul K. Oscarson, their simultaneous service presiding over the St. Louis Missouri and Stockholm Sweden temples respectively is but the latest chapter in a lifelong saga of service to the Lord.
“The Oscarsons have always considered themselves to be a Swedish family living in America,” said President Paul Oscarson. “Both Dick and I had the privilege of serving as full-time missionaries in Sweden. This common experience helped to form a special bond between us.
“We were so excited for him, Linda and their family, when he was called to preside over the Sweden Stockhom Mission in 1975, never imagining that a year later we would be sharing that experience [as mission president of] the Sweden G?eborg Mission.”
He said his older brother was “a true mentor” during that time. “His example as a successful mission president was both inspiring and instructive. Having shared that experience of serving together at a time when there were two missions in Sweden has built a special bond between us and our wives, Bonnie and Linda. Our families were young, and both had children born while in Sweden.”
Not only did the experience mean a great deal to the brothers, but it helped forge a special bond between their wives, who each rose to the challenge of managing a large family in a foreign land, President Paul Oscarson noted.
For his part, President Richard Oscarson said, “Twelve years makes a big difference while brothers are growing up; however, we have felt the differences in age melt away as Paul and I, along with our wives, have been blessed to share many meaningful eternal memories.”
He added, “Paul has been an example of thoughtfulness and diligent faithfulness for our family and all of those he has served. We were thrilled and proud to learn of Paul’s and Bonnie’s call to serve as president and matron of the Stockholm Sweden Temple. We feel our dear deceased parents and Swedish grandparents also rejoiced in their call.”
Their parents, Roy W. and Vera Oscarson, came to St. Louis in the 1940s, where they, with their children, helped pioneer the development and growth of the Church in that city. Even as his two sons were serving simultaneously as mission presidents, Roy Oscarson would be called in 1976 to preside over the newly created Scotland Glasgow Mission.
He did not live quite long enough to see the dedication of a temple in St. Louis, but Vera was present at the temple dedication in 1997. The first temple presidency included their eldest son, Don Oscarson.
Now, President Richard Oscarson is concluding his tenure as president of that temple as President Paul Oscarson finishes his term as temple president in Stockholm.
President Paul Oscarson reminisced about their respective calls: “In the spring of 2009, Bonnie and I had received a call to serve as full-time missionaries in Hong Kong. Shortly before we were to report at the MTC, our assignment changed when this call came to return to Sweden and serve in the Stockholm temple. At the same time, Dick and Linda were called to the temple in St. Louis. In the Seminar for New Temple Presidents, the couples were seated alphabetically by temple location. That meant that ‘St. Louis’ and ‘Stockholm’ were seated right next to each other. It seemed somehow fitting for two brothers who have shared so much to be by each other’s side. Once again we have been blessed to share a common experience. The Lord continues to bless me with a great example and mentor. I often find myself wondering, ‘What would Dick do in this situation?’ ”
President Richard Oscarson remarked, “To have shared in the supernal experiences associated with our callings in the temple, in addition to our family’s experiences in Sweden as mission presidents, has been a privilege and blessing beyond words to express. We humbly acknowledge the hand of the Lord in our lives and in the lives of our families. Our hearts are full as we complete our sacred stewardships.”