I’m excited to introduce Hans Mattsson. Hans will talk about his calling as the first Swedish General Authority and growing up in the LDS Church.
Hans: Well, my name is Hans Mattsson, and I’m a Swedish citizen. I used to be holding a call as an Area Authority Seventy from 2000 and on to 2005. During this time, I met a lot of good, high-position members of the Church.
Hans: [I wrote] a book called Truth Seeking. It gives the story about my life and how I experienced my family, the Church and why I have got some problems and why I left the Church, really, and that includes meeting with Marlin Jensen, and includes Swedish Rescue, it includes the New York Times and things like that. I just wanted to say, also, that Christina Hanke is the one who wrote most of it. But I talked to her, as they interviewed me a lot. It’s the way it worked.
GT: So, you’ve got that in multiple languages, I believe. So you’ve got an English and Swedish and what other languages?
Hans: Actually, people just contacted me and asked, “Can I translate it into German? Can I translate into Spanish? Can I make an audiobook of it?” So I said, “I don’t have any money for that project.” But they said, “No, no, no, you’ve done so much for so many people, and I just wanted to do something.” I said, “Well, just go ahead.” So I’ve been really blessed. I used to say to my wife, “That’s a blessing for tithing I used to pay. The windows of heaven opened. The only thing is, the money is not coming in, but the books are selling through Amazon.
GT: That’s right. I really appreciate you sending me a copy. As I said before the interview started, I can’t figure out where I placed it, but it’s an interesting book. So, of course, my current interview right now is with Dr. Matt Harris and Dr. Newell Bringhurst and we talk about the Swedish Rescue, which you had a major part of there. So, I definitely want to talk about that. As we go here, I think– some of my listeners, I think, are going to be very familiar with you. Others are not. Can you give us just kind of a thumbnail sketch of how you were in the Church and how you became a general authority and that sort of thing?
Hans: I was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. In Swedish, we would say Goteborg. There, I have three brothers, and a very faithful father and mother. We were really, really faithful and really believed in everything of the Church. I served a mission for two years in the England Central Mission that later became the England, Birmingham Mission.
GT: And that’s how you learned English?
Hans: Yeah, I tried to practice there. You’re right, really. Then after my mission, I did my military service in Sweden. Actually, there I met my future wife. She was working in the kitchen serving the militaries. That’s a wonderful story. You can read all about in the book.
Hans: We had four wonderful children, no, five children. I’m so sorry. [We had] three boys and two girls. In the Church, I had callings as a branch president, Bishop, counselor to Bishop, counselor to a Stake President, High Councilman. I served as a Stake President. Then we moved to Stockholm. There I was called as a High Councilman, but also as the counselor to the mission president, because there are no stakes all over Sweden. So the northern part of Sweden is the districts. So that’s where I, as a counselor, had to take care of them. After a while, I was called to visit with one general authority up at the airport of Stockholm. There I received a letter from the First Presidency, calling me to be an Area Authority Seventy and belong to the Third Quorum of the Seventies. So, that’s 2000, in the early part of 2000, and then on the General Conference coming up the first Sunday in April, I was sustained as a Seventy and Elder Holland, and Marlin Jensen were the ones who set me apart.
Hans: From there, it’s just, “Go on.” I was nervous, happy, and delighted. Of course, in Sweden, I was the first Swedish Area Authority and that’s a humbling experience. I remember the first meeting, we had been taught by the Twelve and the First Presidency and Seventies every year at the Church Office Building, before the conference and when I looked around there–so, Brother Marriott, so some famous people, Elder Rasband. I was called as the same time as Elder Renlund. They’re both apostles now. We get together and I thought to myself, “What are you doing here?” You feel kind of humble. Kind of a voice from inside said, “Don’t blame yourself, blame God because He is calling you, so just do what, who you are and do the best.” So that’s what I felt. Of course, I have to travel in Europe, mostly, even part of the old eastern block areas like Hungary, Romania, those countries that used to belong to the Soviet Union from many years ago. Then, of course, [I travelled to] Germany, Austria, the Nordic countries. About two different milieus, so to speak, [I traveled to] the ones where the Church was organized and had Stakes. Of course, I went to the countries that didn’t know anything really, that were brand new, that had missionaries for branch presidents and so on. So it was kind of exciting.
Were you aware of his story? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr. Matt Harris about the Swedish Rescue!
453: Swedish Rescue & Gospel Topics Essays (Harris/Bringhurst)