Elder Anthony Duane Perkins, sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April, 2006 general conference, was born in Cortez, Colorado, USA, on July 22, 1960, to Sunny Kimballa Luther Perkins and Larry Lazelle Perkins. The family didn’t settle in one spot until he was 13 years old, in junior high school, and they established their home in Farmington, New Mexico, the home town of his future wife, Christine Abbott.
Elder Perkins spent much of his childhood with his legs in “all kinds of contraptions” because one of his legs stopped growing when he was 7. At age 10 he was the “guinea pig” in an inventive but successful operation performed by a Chinese doctor.
Elder Perkins notes that the event was the first of many interactions with the Chinese. “My whole life has been wrapped up with the Chinese people.”
Of interaction between him and his future wife, Elder Perkins said that, as an eighth grader, "I unfortunately listened to a school teacher. [He]convinced me that I should run for junior high student body president and she also ran. She killed me in the election."
But still friends, they dated in high school and continued their relationship after starting BYU. Elder Perkins said he had an inkling of the way his life might go when, while watching April 1979 general conference at BYU, he heard President Spencer W. Kimball mention China in a talk about taking the gospel to the world.
"I really felt the Spirit hit me," he said. He wrote in his journal that day that he thought he was going to have something to do with China. "Then three months later, my call came, signed by President Kimball, to Taiwan." There, he said, he “caught the China bug.”
One of the many blessings of serving his mission, he said, was hearing for the first time of University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. A companion, later Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., told Elder Perkins his father attended that prestigious business school. Elder Perkins returned to BYU after completing his mission, and ten weeks after his mission, he and Christine were married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 21, 1981, beginning another sort of mission, primarily in Asia, that continued through the years and that will continue through his service as a General Authority.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree from BYU, they moved to Vancouver, Wash., for work. While there he investigated Wharton and found that not only could he pursue an MBA there, but also a concurrent master's degree in international studies with an emphasis on East Asia from the University of Pennsylvania. Those degrees opened the door for his continued involvement with China. But first came a seven year stay in Dallas, Texas. Shortly after building their "dream home" there, his company asked him to open its management consulting office in China.
The Perkinses liked Dallas, they said, and after building their dream home, "we were going to live there forever," Elder Perkins said. But when the career opportunity arose, "We went to the temple and felt like we got very clear direction to abandon our house and go to China."
How did Sister Perkins handle such a dramatic move?
"You be a wife and mother; it doesn't matter where you are," she answered. "That doesn't change — just the shopping changes," she said with a laugh. She added, "I had my own answer. I knew that was where we were supposed to go. I trusted not only my husband, I trusted the Lord." Now Elder Perkins and his wife, Christine, say home is "wherever you are."
At the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, they were in Taipei, Taiwan, where he was serving as mission president. Prior to that they lived eight years in Beijing, China, because of Elder Perkins' employment. Pressed, they say that is the closest they have to a place called "home," though, being Americans, that doesn't seem quite right, either.
Sister Perkins admitted the move to Beijing was difficult. "It was frightening, not as far as physical harm; I was never afraid for my life or anything like that. It was frightening to be illiterate. I couldn't speak, I couldn't understand, I couldn't read and it was frustrating."
But the challenges were softened because they lived among other expatriates, many English speaking.
Elder and Sister Perkins also emphasized that the trials were exceeded by blessings.
For their children, "The education they got, not just in the (international) school, but in life in general," was a great blessing, Elder Perkins said. The children all learned to speak, read and write in Chinese.
Members of the Church from other countries were given approval from the government to hold meetings in China, and Elder Perkins served as the president of their branch in Beijing. "We were always very clear that we were going to follow every rule that China issued," he said.
Under those conditions, the branch of foreign nationals flourished with about 200 members.
In 2003, while their son Derek was serving a mission in Taiwan, Elder Perkins was called to be a mission president there. They finished their mission and established a home in the United States. Their children had lived most of their lives in Asia and the three youngest had never attended a U.S. school, Elder Perkins pointed out, so they were a little nervous about the move. "This is a foreign country for them," Sister Perkins noted.
“I’ve spent half of my adult life in Asia,” he said. “This great blessing has shown my family the global reach of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Previous to his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Perkins had served as district president’s counselor, branch president, elders quorum president, ward clerk, and seminary teacher.
At this posting, Elder Perkins continues to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy.