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.