Trading Idaho Falls for Fitzroy Falls: Serving Down Under as AALC
“It was a great privilege and blessing to get to know good members and saints throughout the Pacific, even though I’ve never met them face to face and sometimes only knew their names from their emails. These are wonderful saints trying to move the work of the Lord along.”– Lane Archibald
Lane and Chris Archibald served the Pacific Area as Associate Area Legal Counsel (AALC) from October 2013 to March 2015. He is a graduate of Seattle University School of Law (formerly known as the University of Puget Sound Law School) and focused his practice on Real Estate, LLCs, and Corporations. Brother Archibald’s 35 years with Real Estate and Corporate compliance law proved a to be the ideal training ground for his AALC responsibilities as well as his experience owning and renting of office buildings and residential properties. Additionally, he previously owned and operated a title company with 22 employees, rounding out his understanding of HR, benefits, and other employee relationships areas. Chris is a Registered Nurse and has worked in most facets of the medical field while raising her children.
Lane and Chris both lost their spouses in 2008. They met and married in 2012 after both serving missions: Lane in the SLC Real Estate Department and Chris in the Rochester New York Mission as Financial Clerk. They term their Mission to the Pacific as their “HoneyMission.” Lane and Chris united their families of seven living children, 23 grandchildren, and two more expected soon. They currently enjoy life in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
As is customary for all AALC missionary couples, the Archibalds were trained for one week by the Office of General Counsel in Salt Lake City, Utah before departing for their new home in Sydney, Australia. Although the Area Office was located in Auckland, New Zealand, living in Sydney allowed Sister Archibald to participate as an integral member of the Sydney Australia Service Center and the Sydney North Mission. The missionaries loved her and she kept very busy assisting the Sydney North Mission conferences and other training meetings, as well as being called upon to escort one ill missionary home to Busan South Korea and another to Hong Kong.
A regular highlight was having Family Home Evening every other Monday with the senior missionaries. Spending time and exploring with the other senior missionaries in the mission and in the Area headquarters were also some of the Archibalds’ favorite memories.
Sundays the Archibalds attended an assigned ward and gave support teaching classes (youth, Relief Society, etc.) as requested. “We loved getting to know the youth and ward members in the Polynesian ward we were assigned to.” They were also directly involved with teaching and fellowshipping investigators within their apartment complex. “We were greatly blessed to be involved with the teaching and baptism of a family from Sri Lanka. The mom and daughter were in Sydney for the daughter’s schooling while the father worked in India, Sri Lanka, and other parts of the world. They were all baptized in October 2014. A great blessing for them as well as us,” reflected Brother Archibald.
Serving under Art Edgson, Area Legal Counsel for the Pacific Area, Brother Archibald frequently interfaced with local counsel because nearly each of the 19 countries in the Area had slightly different laws. He stayed very busy from 8 to 5 or 6pm Monday-Friday (and often working through lunch at his option) with a wide variety of cases and matters including Risk Management, Corporate Compliance, Human Resources, Benefits, Privacy & Real Estate. Specific responsibilities typically fell under the categories of sending/receiving emails, updating cases, phone calls, communication with different persons in the different church departments, contacting outside counsel, meetings with other OGC personnel, ensuring that all LDS entities were in compliance with current government regulations and laws, etc. “While we didn’t change any law of any country or see any miracle we could point to in our service as AALC, we are comforted in knowing that in some small way, we helped the work of the Lord go forward,” said Brother Archibald.
Brother Archibald felt strongly the importance of using his legal skills to not only get a situation right but also “that we are the Church of Jesus Christ and therefore, as His representatives, we treat people the way we would like to be treated and we do it right, even if it takes longer.” He shared an instance of seeing the Lord’s hand in his work and feeling gratified in his role:
A number of years ago, when one of the temples was built on one of the islands in the Pacific Area, we couldn’t connect to the public sewer system because at the time it wasn’t available. The solution was to build a septic system and it worked well for a few years; however, at some point, it began to malfunction and on at least one occasion it overflowed and ran down the hill and flooded one of our neighbor’s property who was not a member of the Church. The property was below the temple property and therefore subject to rain flows. An insurance adjuster concluded the flows were from rain and that the Church had no liability. However, test results showed sewage from the system had come into his property damaging plants and even his home. We obtained approval to pay him a small modest amount for damage and settlement and sent the funds through his attorney to obtain the written release/settlement agreement. We were wondering why after nearly a month the Agreement hadn’t been executed, but shortly thereafter discovered that he had passed away. While it would have been legally justifiable to cancel the payment, we had the family execute the Release/Settlement Agreement and released the funds, feeling that it did much more good with the family to finally settle the “burr that was under his saddle” which had been aggravating him and his family for a number of years.
Brother Archibald also saw firsthand the positive effect legal counsel can have on the general dealings of the Church’s various departments. He recalls that shortly before they arrived in the Pacific Area, a new policy was adopted which required all contracts to be reviewed by OGC before execution by the Church. Many departments weren’t happy with the change because it slowed down their processes and changed the status quo. However, he witnessed “after several months of education and review, the departments were writing much better contracts and the process was streamlined.”
When questioned about the potential language barrier of an English speaker encountering French, Samoan, Tongan, etc., Brother Archibald stated that there are many resources: “Google Translate was quite helpful in translating words or phrases but the Church translators were available to translate contracts and other more involved agreements. Occasionally, we would involve the Service Center Managers to help the translators understand how different phrases or words should be used.”
The Archibalds loved Sydney, and one of the highlights of their mission was to travel and speak at different branches throughout New South Wales. On the Saturdays when they were able to enjoy leisure time, they loved visiting many of the sights and beaches. It was always fun for them to meet the local Australian animals--kangaroos, koalas, pink gala, kookaburra, parrots, cockatoo. They also enjoyed the regional cuisine such as: fish & chips, Nando’s (Brazilian Food), Pavlova—a dessert made with a crisp crust and soft meringue inside topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream, and the wide variety of fruits.
Though they were clearly very busy with their many responsibilities, the Archibalds were still able to visit different locations within the Pacific Area: Brisbane for an Interfaith Conference; Auckland, New Zealand for work in the Area Headquarters and for a J. Reuben Clark Law Society Area Conference; and Samoa and American Samoa for some property boundary/ownership issues.
During a visit to the mission in Sydney, Elder James E. Hamula, who was then a member of the Pacific Area Presidency for the LDS Church, commented, “I cannot help but feel that there is a larger divine purpose to our interfaith efforts and that we can therefore expect heaven’s help in such efforts. There is providential purpose to the various religious faiths of the world, notwithstanding the differences that currently exist among them.” The Archibalds witnessed the spirit of Elder Hamula’s words and were grateful for their experience as AALC to “press onward in this endeavor” and “prepare for the millennial day in which good religious people everywhere will live together in peace.”
By Danielle Dallas, Media Committee
Editor’s Note: Thank you to the Archibalds for sharing insights about their AALC mission to the Pacific Area. If you are interested in using your legal skills for similar service, please contact Brother Bill Atkin of the Office of General Counsel (AtkinWF@ldschurch.org). He will work with you to find the right mission for you and a meaningful missionary assignment for your spouse.
Editor's Note: Since original publication by email, a paragraph of this article was omitted for purposes of clarity and accuracy.
Posted: July 31, 2017