Almost all returned missionaries have some sort of album stuffed with photos taken during their missionary service. Elders and sisters typically love being photographed with the folks they serve among during their missionary days.
Elder Glen L. Rudd was no different. The 96-year-old emeritus General Authority served his mission nearly eight decades ago to New Zealand. He still treasures his missionary photos and mementos.
During his mission, young Elder Rudd served as a traveling companion to his mission president, Matthew Cowley, who would later become an apostle.
During one trip with President Cowley, Elder Rudd visited one of the most important buildings in New Zealand Mormon history — the Duncan Home. It was in this home years earlier that President Cowley, then a young missionary himself, translated the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price into the Maori language.
While at the Duncan Home, Elder Rudd stopped to pose for a photo on the front step with three small Maori children. One of the little boys was Richard Marsh, the son of the residence’s groundskeeper.
At the time, Elder Rudd likely assumed he would never see the Duncan Home — or any of his tiny “photo mates” — again. Making a return trip from his Salt Lake City home back to distant New Zealand seemed unlikely at the time.
But New Zealand had not seen the last of Glen Rudd. In fact, he would return to the land of the Kiwis 27 more times, typically on some sort of Church assignment. Elder Rudd presided over the New Zealand Wellington Mission and later over the New Zealand Temple. Years later, he presided over the Church’s Pacific Area, which included the nation of New Zealand.
Over almost a century, the man and the country have become almost synonymous.
And no, young Elder Rudd’s photo with little Richard Marsh would not be their last together.
Some 40 years after their original photo, Elder Rudd — then on a Church assignment to New Zealand — met up again with Brother Marsh on the steps of the Duncan Home.
“Brother Marsh has remained a strong member of the Church in New Zealand,” said Elder Rudd during a recent Church News interview.
The two men stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the photo like a couple of old friends.
Several more decades passed and then, last February, Elder Rudd and Brother Marsh were together again. Earlier this year, Elder Rudd visited New Zealand one last time. “I know I’ll never be back,” he said.
Included in his itinerary was a trip to the Duncan Home. There waiting for him on the front steps was Brother Marsh. In their maiden photo together, both had dark hair and smooth faces. Now they have snow-white hair and well-earned lines.
The gospel had brought these two men from distant lands together almost 80 years ago. Here they were once again.
A relative snapped their final photo together.