Meeting Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Elder David Todd Christofferson birthed 13 lambs on his own at the age of 12, graduated from BYU, served in the U.S. Army and spoke at Judge John J. Sirica’s funeral on the plan of salvation. These are just some brief but notable times in Elder Christofferson’s life leading up to his calling as an apostle in April 2008. His brother and nephew were able to share more memories of his life.
Family traditions: “Todd’s wife, Kathy, makes elaborate gingerbread houses at Christmas time and donates them to be sold to raise money for charity,” said Wade Christofferson, Elder Christofferson’s brother. “She also makes pies each General Conference for the Church security people to eat. When Todd was the stake president in Nashville, Tenn., he was involved in an inter-faith group there. In an effort to help those less fortunate, he suggested that all of the congregations fast for two meals and donate the money they would have spent on meals. It went over well and the money was used to help the poor in the city.”
Their family also got up during early morning hours for years to have scripture study together.
Occupation: Lawyer. Elder Christofferson served as a clerk for Judge John J. Sirica, chief judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, during the Watergate investigation.
Places he has lived: North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, New Jersey, Virginia and Mexico
Children: Brynn Nufer, Todd, Peter, Ryan and Michael Christofferson
Special family memories: “We regularly hold family reunions on that side of the family and as he has been a General Authority for most of my life, he usually gives a little fireside,” said his nephew, David Christofferson. “It has stuck with me ever since he told it. Once, he was participating in the Hill Cumorah Pageant. While in Palmyra, you have a chance to visit all the church history sites, including the Sacred Grove. He went there and did, as so many have before and since, knelt down and prayed to know if the church was true. What better place to get an answer than the Sacred Grove? He said that he prayed for a while and eventually left the Sacred Grove not having felt anything special, but that later he eventually did receive that witness. He said this experience taught him you don’t have to be in special places to receive important witnesses like that.”
Lessons taught: “This [story] stuck with me because of how true it is,” his nephew said. “A lot of people go to significant places in church history, EFY or youth conference expecting to receive a witness of the church. Some most definitely do, but a lot of people don’t and it can be frustrating. We just have to remember that Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us and trust him.”
Strengths: “I think his greatest strengths are his faith and his kindness,” Wade Christofferson said.
Meeting Elder Neil L. Andersen
Elder Neil Linden Andersen is the newest apostle, though not the youngest, called to the Quorum of the Twelve. Growing up on a farm near Pocatello, Idaho, Elder Andersen went on to travel the world and speak French, Portuguese, Spanish and English. In an interview with his older brother, Allan Andersen, we get a glimpse into his family life.
Hobbies: “He works in his yard in the summertime in Bountiful. You would find it amazing how much time the brethren spend doing the Lord’s work and they don’t have much time to do other things,” said his older brother. As a teenager he participated in Idaho’s Boys State and Boys Nation. He also played sports with his siblings. “As children we played backyard football and many hours of basketball on a gravel driveway with a wooden backboard and rim attached to the garage,” his brother said.
Family tradition: Elder Andersen gets together with his family and siblings to celebrate their mother’s birthday along with General Conference.
Favorite food: “I don’t know about an ethnic food, but he does love our mother’s homemade cinnamon rolls,” his brother said.
Occupation: Real estate and advertising
Favorite place to visit: “One place Elder Andersen has not been and would like to is Jerusalem,” Allan Andersen said. He and his wife also like to revisit France, after having served there as a missionary and mission president.
Places he has lived: Utah, Idaho, France, Florida, Switzerland, Germany and Brazil
Children: Camey Hadlock, Brandt Andersen, Kristen Ebert and Derek Andersen
Special family memories: “We traveled from Idaho with our family to General Conference at the tabernacle. After the session, we would anxiously await just a few feet outside the west end of the tabernacle to see President David O. McKay and some of the Twelve as they walked to cars, which waited just outside. I still clearly remember the excitement we felt, as we were able to be close to the prophet and apostles. These many years later, that feeling is much the same,” his brother said.
Strengths: “He has always been faithful and willing to do all that was asked of him,” Allan Andersen said. “When he was called to be a mission president at age 37, he left a promising business and took a young family to France without hesitation.”
Lessons taught: “I have always been impressed by his dedication to the Lord and his willingness to serve,” said his niece, Heather Andersen.
Spiritual growth: “I think our spiritual growth comes as we serve our fellow man and live righteously,” Allan Andersen said. “The apostles commit all of their time and energy to church service and are then able to teach and inspire others to do better.”
Meeting Elder Quentin L. Cook
Elder Quentin LaMar Cook, great-great-grandson of Heber C. Kimball, grew up in Cache Valley with his high school sweetheart, Mary Gaddie, each serving their student body. More than 50 years later, Elder Cook continues to serve as an apostle. An interview with his son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Autumn Cook, lets us know more about him outside of his church callings.
Hobbies: “He is an avid reader of history, current events and just loves to read about the world and stay knowledgeable about current affairs,” Joe Cook said. “He has a good-sized library and reads about five newspapers a day.”
Elder Cook also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and admiring architecture.
Favorite food: Classic American food. He typically likes simple meals like soup and salad.
Favorite place to visit: “Being that most of his professional life was spent in the San Francisco Bay area, I think a spot he often enjoyed traveling to was the Monterey Bay area. He enjoyed that area with the beautiful coastline and other attractions like the aquarium,” his son said.
Places he has lived: San Francisco, Logan, the Philippines, New Zealand and Salt Lake City
Children: Joe Cook, Larry Cook and Kathryn Cook Knight
Special family memories: “I remember him scheduling a regular monthly time with each child independently and having a meeting with dad about things going on in my life,” Joe Cook said. “He’d always ask about my activities and the things I was interested in and encourage me, whether it was a personal interest to him or not. Another meaningful memory was each of my siblings and me at 12 years old, each had a one-on-one week trip to explore family history back to the East Coast where our family history roots were located.”
Strengths: “I think with many years of professional experience as an attorney, one of his strengths is to counsel and guide people at difficult points in their lives,” his son said. “I couldn’t think of a more able adviser who could be more trusted and helpful.”
Lessons taught: “He taught me, but mainly he modeled things to me,” Joe Cook said. “It was the same idea expressed by Joseph Smith: if you teach people correct principles then they will govern themselves. When there were important choices to be made in my life, he wanted me to make them.”
Spiritual Growth: “He [Elder Cook] was visiting for our local stake conference in October. In the course of the meeting when I heard him bear testimony of the Savior, the power of that testimony was palpable,” Autumn Cook said. “I’ve been in their family for 10 years and have heard his testimony before, but never in this capacity as an apostle in a meeting such as that.”