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Dale G. Renlund is a dutiful Mormon, accustomed to accepting any request without question, but when LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson issued the call Tuesday to serve as the church's 100th apostle, Renlund was "stunned and speechless."

The retired cardiologist was, he said at an afternoon news conference, "somewhere between apoplectic and catatonic. ... I uttered some kind of acceptance."

Monson then assured him that this was not a human decision, saying, "'God called you. The Lord made it known to me.'"

Despite those words, Renlund said, since Tuesday he has been "plagued by severe insomnia."

His main mission, like that of the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is to share Christ's atonement with the world, Renlund said. Beyond that, he isn't sure what to expect.

"I can't imagine what this is going to be like," he told the assembled media. "I really have no clue."

Renlund, 62, is a retired cardiologist who specialized in heart transplants. He had been in the First Quorum of the Seventy since 2009.

He was born in Salt Lake City to Swedish immigrants and spent several years as a teenager with his family in Sweden and Finland. He also served a mission to Sweden.

Renlund said he stays grounded by recalling the great faith of Congolese Mormons, whom he met while serving in the church's Africa Southeast Area Presidency.

One time in central Congo, he asked a congregation three times to name their challenges. Finally, an older man told him they had none because they had the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"I wanted to grab him by the collar and say, 'You have nothing. You have no running water, no electricity," he said. "But I realized they had the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my wife and I felt like we'd like to grow up and be like those Congolese Saints."

Just as this calling will require sacrifice, that one did, too.

To join him for the Africa assignment, Ruth Renlund had to leave her law firm, where she was president, as well as positions on several prominent boards, a church news release said.

The couple have faced challenges before.

During his training in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Ruth Renlund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and ultimately had to have a hysterectomy. The couple's only child, a daughter, Ashley, was just 16 months old when her mother was diagnosed.

"Ruth's illness changed the course of our lives," he said. "She's my hero."