Former Ogden mayor Matthew Godfrey surprised by mission president call

Friday , January 08, 2016 - 8:04 PM3 comments

Standard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN — Former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey was caught off guard when called into the office of Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ballard extended the call for 45-year-old Godfrey to serve as a mission president in the Peru Lima North Mission in South America for three years, beginning in July. He and his wife will enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo in late June before traveling to the mission offices in Lima.

“This came as a complete surprise. I’ve met with Elder Ballard before, but have never met with him in his office,” Godfrey said. “It was frightening, but they were so kind and gracious, this globe-trotting man who wanted to accommodate my schedule. There is a lesson in that.”

Since receiving the call, Godfrey has had a mix of emotions.

“When I served my mission in Venezuela, I put the mission presidents on such a high pedestal, so I cannot imagine that I will be in that same world, so it is very humbling,” Godfrey said.

“I think this opportunity is going to be a mix of incredible, miraculous experiences and several different challenges, which I think are common partners, especially in preaching the gospel. Where there are blessings and opportunities, there are also tremendous trials.”

Godfrey and his wife, Monica, have five children, ranging from 20 down to 12 years old. The couple admits their three younger kids who still live at home were apprehensive at first, but are now excited about the new journey.

“There will be some radical departures from the lifestyle they are accustomed to,” said Godfrey, such as leaving the house at 5:30 a.m. to get to the English-speaking school, and arriving home around 4:30 p.m.

Another challenge will be finding a good track program for their daughter, who is an avid runner. Though the family is aware of the challenges, they are still looking forward to the opportunity.

“I have a deep love for the Savior and the restored gospel and am profoundly grateful to be able to serve Him for the next three years,” Godfrey said.

Since serving Ogden City as mayor for three terms from 1999 to 2011, Godfrey has been working with the company he founded, Better City, an economic development consulting company. Godfrey said the company will be left in good hands with other professionals while he is gone.

“I have incredibly competent people and am so lucky to have them,” Godfrey said of his colleagues at Better City. “I really believe in the philosophy that you hire people that are smarter than you, so they are very bright and capable.”

Sign up for e-mail news updates.