News Release

New Australian Mission Presidents Hit Their Stride


It’s been just over eight months since three new mission presidents and their wives arrived in Australia to serve and preside in three different missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  President Scott and Sister Tamra Runia arrived in Sydney,  President Paul and Sister Andrea Bennallack came to Perth, and President Derek and Sister Colleen Marquis began their service in Adelaide. 

When President and Sister Runia arrived in Sydney, two large missions in the Sydney area (the Australia Sydney North Mission and the Australia Sydney South Mission) were combined as of 1 July 2018 to create a truly enormous Australia Sydney Mission with approximately 320 missionaries serving from 28 different countries and cultures. The Runias humbly expressed how in dealing with this challenge they quickly realized that the Lord is in charge of His affairs in the mission.

One of the Runia's mottos for their mission is part of a quote from Elder Dieter Uchtdorf, "Enduring joyfully to the end." The Runias shared how they apply and use this thought often. President Runia said that he tells his missionaries, "My goal is to create joy, high expectations and to make sure your life is clean, that you have repented, and that as you teach the eternal plan of happiness, you are full of joy."

Sister Runia loves to share this message with their missionaries, "If you connect with God in your morning prayers and stay on your knees until your heart softens and your casual prayer turns to mighty prayer, then throughout the day you'll have a willing heart to do the Lord's work and feel joy while serving."

The Runia's goal is to make sure the missionaries begin their mission with a purpose and are then individually converted through repentence, hope, encouragement and love. They want their missionaries to be able to reflect back on their mission experience in twenty years, as a time that changed their testimonies and their lives for the better.

President and Sister Bennallack of the Australia Perth Mission expressed that before arriving they were very inspired by what they were taught in the Mission Leadership Seminar by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf. Elder Uchtdorf, in discussing their purpose, explained that, “A missionary’s sheaves are their converts and our sheaves (as mission president and wife) are our missionaries and their descendants.”

President and Sister Bennallack commented, “Our focus has been twofold: First, to help missionaries truly understand their purpose and to fulfill it by consecrating their efforts. This has included working with the Mission Leadership Council to develop a Mission Vision Statement that emphasises the missionaries’ purpose. Second, we strive to help each of the missionaries learn how to become true disciples of Christ by being self-reliant in all elements of their missionary life. The missionaries are taught to strive to develop a close relationship with their Saviour, understand the importance of His Atonement and develop emotional, social, physical and spiritual self-reliance.”

President and Sister Marquis of the Australia Adelaide Mission shared, “We are focused on helping our missionaries follow President Nelson’s teachings that, ‘Missionary work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple.’ As such, our missionaries are envisioning each of the people they teach dressed in white twice—first on their baptismal day and then again when they enter the temple.”

President Marquis said, “Because we truly want them to internalize this counsel from our prophet, one of the first things we do after picking up our missionaries at the Adelaide airport when they arrive from the MTC is that we take them to the beautiful Adelaide Temple. There they have the opportunity to walk the temple grounds, visit with President Hill, the Adelaide Temple president, and contemplate how they will make the blessings of the temple central to their fulltime missionary service.”

In reflecting on the experiences they have had thus far on their mission, Sister Marquis remarked, “We love our missionaries and have enjoyed meeting many of their converts as well as the faithful members of the Church from Darwin on the north coast of the Australian continent all the way down to Mount Gambier/Portland at the south coast. While the mission spans a vast distance of over 3,500 kilometers, the converts’ stories are the same—they love their families, they love the gospel and they love the Lord, Jesus Christ.”

President and Sister Marquis also shared, “We are honored and blessed to be serving in the Australia Adelaide Mission. Our valiant missionaries are fulfilling our mission motto as they invite all of our Heavenly Father’s children to ‘Come and See’ (John 1:39).”

There are currently approximately 65,000 missionaries around the world in 407 missions of the Church who serve under the guidance and care of their mission leaders. The mission presidents and spouses in these missions throughout the world are dynamic, humble and loving, just like the Runias, Bennallacks and Marquis', who continue to bless the lives of the missionaries who serve under their direction.  

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