Sunday, June 24, 2012


Somehow got this very significant event out of order, but I want to tell you about the marvelous time we had in Hawkes Bay when we were visited by Bronco Mendenhall, BYU head football coach.  We've been looking forward to his visit for months and were not disappointed!  The BIG day for the Bronco Mendenhall fireside in Flaxmere was Tuesday, 5 June 2012, and the chapel was packed.  Bronco was accompanied by his mother and father, who were a delightful addition to the evening.  Bronco's parents live in Alpine, where his father, Paul Mendenhall, serves as a stake patriarch.  Bronco's father also served a full-time mission in New Zealand from 1951-1953 and then returned in 1999 with his wife, Lenore, to serve for 3 years as the Auckland Mission President.  Bronco's grandparents, his parents, his uncle, and his brother have all served in New Zealand, but this trip was Bronco's first to New Zealand.
Bronco's grandfather was Wendell B. Mendenhall, who served as a young missionary in NZ from 1927-1930 and later became chairman of the Church Building Committee and of the Church Board of Education.  He oversaw many building projects in the USA and throughout the South Pacific.  Wendell Mendenhall is considered the "father" of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii and is equally remembered in NZ for his role in helping select the site for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and supervising the construction of the temple and the adjacent Church College of New Zealand.  The library at the church college is named after him and is still in use, although the school is presently closed, and plans are not definite yet as to what the land and buildings will be used for in the future.

We were privileged to hear from both of Bronco's parents.  His mother also comes from a strong church background.  Her father was John Henry Vandenberg, 9th Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1961-1972.  He also served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Bronco was an amazing speaker, who had the rapt attention of everyone in attendance, especially the youth.  He talked about the values and standards he has for the BYU football team and brought with him a large white flag with a blue "Y" on it, which is carried onto the field during BYU home games.  He invited everyone who was willing to stand for the values we hold dear to sign this flag, which would be waved and carried in front of the 60,000+ plus fans who come to Lavell Edwards Stadium to watch the Cougars play.  Of course, Elder Farnes and I added our signatures.

After the fireside, Elder Farnes and I were invited to join with a few dignitaries in having a small supper with Bronco in the high council room, and that was a real treat.  There were only about 10 of us there, so we were able to visit with the Mendenhalls on a one-on-one basis.  Elder Farnes got to spend about 15 minutes talking with Bronco.  Naturally, we got pictures of this great evening.

And then to our surprise, we found out that Bronco was speaking to us again the next morning at a missionaries-only meeting, which was attended by the 18 missionaries in our zone.  What a great experience!  Bronco talked about what it takes to have a perfect missionary day, and we could sure picture that he'd make a great mission president in the future.
(L-R) Bro. Selwyn Jones, good friend of Mendenhalls, responsible for getting them here, Patriarch Mendenhall, Bronco, and NZ basketball star, Paul Winitana (captain of his team and called the "bishop" because he refuses to play basketball on Sunday)

 Bronco with the "youth" surrounding him.
 Bronco with his father, Patriarch Paul Mendenhall
Bronco with two of his best fans!

1 comment:

  1. I love hearing about all of your adventures. Thanks for updating your blog about your mission experiences.