Eugene came from the Congo and accepted the gospel while studying in Belgium. After having obtained a doctorate in economics of developing nations, he returned to Africa.
During the years with us, Eugene fulfilled many callings, willingly responding to the recurrent changes in positions our branch and district demanded in the relentless cycle of convert baptisms and inactivation.
He served in positions from counselor in the Sunday school presidency to usher, from chapel cleaning supervisor to district activity leader, and more. He did it graciously, enjoying the spur of yet another call. He was so apt at helping a handicapped brother move from his car seat to his wheelchair and back, a ritual he performed every Sunday, that we teased him with the supplementary title of transfer coordinator.
As I had worked in the Congo for several years, I enjoyed sharing with Eugene some mannerisms I had picked up from my friends in Kinshasa. Between us, in the amusing connection we immediately felt, he would call me boss and I would call him chief. We would greet each other, our hands swinging lightly against each other and each of us looking aside. But also when greeting others, Eugene could not alter residues of his childhood upbringing, such as gazing down as a sign of respect and responding with a fluffy touch to an extended hand, as a token of meekness.
One day the mission president asked me to suggest a few names for a task in the mission. I recommended Eugene. He called him in for an interview, which lasted less than one minute. Eugene came out a little confused as to why the interview was so short and without content.
Much later the mission president told me: “Did you know that Brigham Young could immediately see what kind of person was standing before him? The spirit of discernment. There is a problem when someone avoids eye contact and gives a weak handshake.”