Courtesy of the Ballard family

Elder M. Russell Ballard was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 6, 1985. On Oct. 8, Elder Ballard turns 88-years-old. He was born in 1928 to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard. He and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of seven children. The information in this quiz has been compiled from biographical articles written about Elder Ballard as well as from talks he has given and posts from his social media account.

Question #1
Courtesy of the Ballard family

Which previous apostle/church leader is Elder Ballard descended from?

a. Elder Hyrum Mack Smith
b. Elder Melvin J. Ballard
c. President Joseph F. Smith
d. All of the above

Answer
Lindsey Orton

d. All of the above

Elder M. Russell Ballard is not only a descendent of President Joseph F. Smith but also of Hyrum Smith, who is Elder Ballard's great-great-grandfather, and the Prophet Joseph Smith, his great-great uncle.

According to a biography on LDS.org, Elder Ballard keeps busts of President Joseph F. Smith, Hyrum Smith and Joseph Smith in his office as well as portraits of his two grandfathers, Elder Hyrum M. Smith and Elder Melvin J. Ballard.

"There have been times when those portraits of his grandfathers have provided needed encouragement to persevere in his callings, Elder Ballard says," LDS.org says. "Now, 'realizing that I have been invited to sit in the same circle they sat in during their lifetimes, there have come some special feelings.'"

Question #2
Courtesy of the Ballard family

What did Elder Ballard's fraternity brothers in college call him?

a. Dad
b. The bishop
c. Captain
d. The kid

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

b. The bishop

According to a biographical article online, "while in college, his fraternity brothers called him 'the bishop.' They knew that, whatever the situation, he would be true to his standards and uphold his faith."

Question #3
Courtesy of the Ballard family

Elder Ballard was called to serve in which unusual leadership capacity as a 21-year-old missionary?

a. Branch president
b. Counselor in the mission presidency
c. Bishop
d. Young Men's president

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

b. Counselor in the mission presidency

During his mission in England, Elder Ballard was called to serve as a counselor in the mission presidency, according to Mormon Newsroom.

Question #4
Courtesy of the Ballard family

Where did Elder Ballard meet his wife?

a. At a BYU dance
b. At a Utah State dance
c. At a University of Utah dance
d. At a Dixie State dance

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

c. At a University of Utah dance

Elder Ballard has recalled his meeting his wife, Barbara in a a biographical article on LDS.org.

“I met her at the University of Utah ‘Hello Day Dance.’ A friend of mine thought I ought to meet her, so he tagged in to dance with her, danced over to where I was, introduced me, and I danced with her thirty seconds before I was tagged out. That was the beginning of a courtship of eleven months.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to marry her, but she didn’t share the same feelings. It was a little hard convincing her. I kid her now that getting her to agree to marry me was the greatest sales job I ever did,” Elder Ballard said.

Elder Ballard told Deseret News that he knew he would marry her from the beginning but she didn't share the same feelings initially. He reminds her now that getting her to marry him was "the most important thing" he ever did.

The couple has been married for 65 years. They were married on August 28, 1951.

Question #5
Courtesy of the Ballard family

What advice did President Harold B. Lee share with the Ballards when they were sealed?

a. Hold hands and say prayers at the end of each day
b. Do not go to sleep angry
c. Always be the first to say sorry
d. Go to bed early and arise early

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

a. Hold hands and say prayers at the end of each day

Elder Ballard recently shared the council he and his wife received from President Harold B. Lee on Facebook.

"Sister Ballard and I were taught by President Harold B. Lee 65 years ago when we got married that we should hold hands and say prayers at the end of each day. It’s a great blessing. Each evening, we hold hands and just thank our Father for the day.

"It’s so wonderful for me to hear Barbara’s voice thank the Lord for watching over and protecting me for one more day. And I hope she feels the same way when I pray for her."

Question #6
Courtesy of the Ballard family

Elder Ballard recalled in general conference his experience as Salt Lake City’s first dealer of which Ford automobile?

a. Ford Edsel
b. Ford Aerostar
c. Ford Mustang
d. Ford F-150

Answer
Deseret News archive

a. Ford Edsel

Elder Ballard shared his personal experience with failure in his April 2009 general conference talk and what he learned from it.

"Years ago when I was in business, I learned a very expensive lesson because I did not listen carefully to the counsel of my father, nor did I heed the promptings of the Spirit giving me guidance from my Heavenly Father. My father and I were in the automobile business, and the Ford Motor Company was looking for dealers to sell their new line of cars. Ford executives invited my father and me to a preview showing of what they thought would be a spectacularly successful product. When we saw the cars, my father, who had over 35 years experience in the business, cautioned me about becoming a dealer. However, the Ford sales personnel were very persuasive, and I chose to become Salt Lake City’s first—and actually last—Edsel dealer. And if you don’t know what an Edsel is, ask your grandpa. He will tell you that the Edsel was a spectacular failure.

"Now, there’s a powerful lesson for all of you in this experience. When you are willing to listen and learn, some of life’s most meaningful teachings come from those who have gone before you. They have walked where you are walking and have experienced many of the things you are experiencing. If you listen and respond to their counsel, they can help guide you toward choices that will be for your benefit and blessing and steer you away from decisions that can destroy you. As you look to your parents and others who have gone before you, you will find examples of faith, commitment, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that you should strive to duplicate."

Question #7
Courtesy of the Ballard family

Where did Elder Ballard serve as a mission president?

a. Paris, France
b. London, England
c. Sacramento, California
d. Toronto, Canada

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

d. Toronto, Canada

Elder Ballard's Facebook account recently shared the following words from Elder Ballard:

"You never know how much your service will mean to somebody until you are away from them and then return to see the steady growth in the lives of those you served. I was reminded of this recently when I visited Ontario, Canada.
Some of you may know that I was called to serve as mission president of the Canada Toronto Mission in 1974—a full 42 years ago. I occasionally get an opportunity to visit the area, but it had been six years since I last visited. How grateful I was to see many friends who are diligent and faithful in their commitment to living and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was touching for me during our visit to speak with many people who told me that they had joined the Church while I was mission president.

"While there, I reminded the members that this life is a test—a time to see which path we will take. There are two powers in the world. One reminds us to choose the right and brings eternal joy. The other tempts us to choose the opposite and leads us to sadness and regret.

"If we will be anchored to the well of living water, whenever the winds blow, we will be able to withstand whatever trials come our way. Stay focused on family and commit to being clean and pure. As we do so, the Lord will see us through our times of trial."

Question #8
Courtesy of the Ballard family

What did Elder Ballard think that President Hinckley was going to ask him to do when he asked him to be an apostle?

a. To be a mission president
b. To be a temple president
c. To take an oversea assignment as a Seventy
d. To speak in general conference

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

d. To take an oversea assignment as a Seventy

Elder Ballard's wife, Barbara, remembers the experience when her husband was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in an LDS.org biography:

“We were just ready to leave the house to go to conference. The phone rang, and it was President Hinckley, who asked my husband to come to the office."

Elder Ballard to Deseret News that he knew that several members of the Seventy had recently been given assignments overseas and as they drove to the meeting with President Hinckley, he tried to prepare his wife for the possibility of a similar assignment.

“We were relaxed on the way to President Hinckley’s office and discussed what Russell might talk about if called to speak. When we got to the office, President Hinckley called my husband to be an Apostle. I almost thought, ‘Please say that again. I don’t know if I heard correctly.’ Russ looked at me with tears in his eyes. It was a sobering experience.”

Question #9
Courtesy of the Ballard family

What one word did President Boyd K. Packer use to describe Elder Ballard?

a. Diligent
b. Teachable
c. True
d. Kind

Answer
Courtesy of the Ballard family

b. Teachable

“It is not unusual to find those who have very brilliant minds to at once lack humility and meekness,” President Packer has been quoted as saying. “Not so with M. Russell Ballard. If I should choose a word to describe him, it would be teachable.That is a synonym for meekness. Meekness and weakness are not synonyms.

“When he was presiding over the mission in Toronto, I toured the mission. When I returned home, my wife was concerned because I was so tired. ‘Did you have a mission president that wouldn’t listen to your instruction?’ she asked.

“I replied, ‘No, just the opposite. I found a mission president who was so eager to learn and so desirous of obtaining instruction that I was drawn beyond what we ordinarily are able to do.’”

Question #10

What commitment did Elder Ballard extend during his April 1980 general conference talk?

a. To read the Book of Mormon before the next general conference
b. To give a Book of Mormon to a non-member friend
c. To write letters of encouragement
d. To write missionaries more faithfully

Answer

c. To write letters of encouragement

During the April 1980 general conference, Elder Ballard invited the brethren of the LDS Church to "find a small piece of paper and a pencil. Borrow from your neighbor if you need to. Now, brethren, write on your piece of paper the name of one inactive or nonmember man or boy who lives in your ward." He then asked, "Will you make a commitment tonight that you will do all in your power, with the help of the Lord, to lead that person out of darkness into the full light of the gospel?"

He then said, “I want to help you keep the commitment you’ve just made. I invite you to write to me when your time has come for some additional help. Send me the name of the person you seek to rescue, and I’ll write a letter of encouragement to him.”

"Elder Ballard wrote more than 600 personal letters to people who needed help in gaining a testimony," according to LDS.org. "The responses he received showed how people were touched by his concern. For example, one of the recipients of Elder Ballard’s letters wrote, 'I feel that your letter was the real beginning of this fantastic change in my life, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.'"

Question #11

Which item does Elder Ballard keep encased on his desk?

a. A lucky penny
b. An Oreo cookie that was given to him
c. His mother's wedding ring
d. The mailing stamp from his mission call

Answer

b. An Oreo cookie that was given to him

The following story was reported in the Deseret News:

"Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles doesn’t know all the details of how one particular Syrian family made their way to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. However, his brief encounter with the family’s 9-year-old son, Amer, are etched in his memory.

"Elder Ballard watched as the family, wet and cold from their arduous sea crossing, arrived at the camp shortly after landing on Lesbos on November 20. He described what happened next:

'The wonderful people receiving the family gave the little children some Oreo cookies. This little boy, Amer, opened up his pack of cookies and offered me one. I did what anybody would do. I said, "No, these are for you." Amer would not pull the cookies away until I took one. I embraced him and thanked him. That was a tender moment for all of us. Here he was, just coming out of the water, still wet, and the first thing he wanted to do was give me the first cookie.'"

Elder Ballard now keeps the Oreo cookie encased on his desk.