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Other Side of Heaven's John Groberg Discusses Family and Faith

by | Nov. 01, 2019

Mormon Life

Elder John H. Groberg has had his fair share of missionary adventures in his lifetime, and some of them have even made it to the big screen in the Disney-distributed The Other Side of Heaven and the newly released The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith. We recently sat down with the emeritus General Authority Seventy to learn a little bit more about his experiences.

1. What is your favorite hymn?

In English or Tongan? It depends on the mood, but in English, I love the hymns of the Restoration. In Tongan, there’s a song called “Folofola Mai ‘a Sı-su- ,” or “Thus Saith the Lord,” that is a really great one, and some of their sacrament hymns that aren’t in English are really beautiful. 

2. What is a scripture that you love?

The 124th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord talks about “building a house unto me.” I’ve always interpreted that as being He’s talking about a temple, but also, I’ve felt it is building a family. And as you do, the Lord will help you do it and then bless you along the way. I have a special place in my heart for temple work since Jean and I served as temple matron and president, but as you connect temple and family, that is the Church. So, I love those scriptures that are about coming unto the Savior.

3. What was it like raising children in a foreign country?

John: Jean can answer that better than I can.

Jean: It was, in some sense, a unique experience. Of course, the children were exposed to a new culture. As far as our years in Tonga, those three years, our family was still young. We had such wonderful helpers that really made it a lot easier because of the loving way that the Tongan people just move in and anticipate your needs and take care of you in such a loving way. So that was a great, great blessing. When we lived in Hawaii, Argentina, and Hong Kong, we found the people very helpful also.

4. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I used to love to play tennis, but I’ve had a kind of a hip problem for quite a while now, so I just can’t do that anymore. I used to be involved a lot with sports, but basketball and tennis were my two favorites. I should also mention music. People are aware [that] I play the trumpet. I play the piano also. But I’ve forgotten a lot.

5. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

My father was our bishop when I was growing up for several years. I think the best advice [I’ve ever received] was—and I don’t remember whether this was as bishop or this was as Dad—but it was simply, “Be obedient. Be faithful, and you’ll be all right.”

And I just remember being this young child and thinking, “That’s pretty simple. Go to church, pay your tithing, and things will work out.” I just remember hearing that as a small child, and then, of course, you hear that even today from the Brethren. But I think that’s the advice. Be faithful. That is, have faith in the Savior and obey.

Lead image courtesy of Tom Groberg
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