On New Year’s Day 1983, the two members of the branch presidency in Reykjavík died in a climbing accident. Their deaths—combined with the absence of other priesthood holders on missions and the emigration of the succeeding branch president—left a gaping hole in branch leadership. Called to fill this void was a member of only eleven months, Guðmundur Sigurðsson. Eighteen-year-old Ronald Guðnason became his clerk and later his counselor in the branch presidency, even though Ronald was in his demanding last year of high school.
Both Guðmundur and Ronald had to overcome feelings of insecurity and inexperience as they fulfilled their callings. “I felt so isolated because I had no background for the Church in Iceland—I didn’t know how things should be done, didn’t know what was available,” Guðmundur recalled. “Sometimes people would offer to help me, but the problem was, I didn’t know what to ask for! … In serving the Lord I turned to Him again and again. … Even when helping clean the church building, as my wonderful wife, Valgerður Knútsdóttir, was the custodian at that time, the Spirit would often bring me thoughts and answers to my problems.”
Ronald recalled, “I rose to the occasion, did what I [had] to do.” At the end of the year, for example, “nobody knew about tithing settlements. … There [were] just papers everywhere,” so Ronald locked himself in the office all day and sorted. By facing the challenges of inexperience, these men were prepared for further service. Three years later, Guðmundur became the first Icelandic district president. Ronald later served as the Selfoss Branch president.