When Floyd Goeller was only six years old, his mother taught him the art of making quilt tops. He had no idea that well over half a century would pass before he would use that talent again—this time to help those in need.
“I was 87 years old the summer of 1995 when I met my 91-year-old cousin Martha, a very experienced and talented quilter,” says Brother Goeller. “Upon learning that I had been taught how to quilt by my mother, she sent me 169 quilt blocks of many colors and different types of fabric.”
Brother Goeller took the blocks, added blocks made from his own fabric remnants, and, trusting that the Lord would provide, started to piece together a quilt top. Early the following spring, he asked the Relief Society president in his ward if she knew of anyone who might be willing to give him extra fabric remnants, which would allow him to finish his project.
He soon received more than enough fabric to finish the first quilt top, so he kept cutting, piecing, and creating. Since February of 1996 Brother Goeller has completed eight different quilt tops. The ward Relief Society helped him finish most of the quilts.
Brother Goeller has definite ideas about how the quilts should be used. He gave the first one to a young woman from the ward who was married in the temple. He gave the others to the Relief Society presidency in his ward, to be distributed to those in need due to emergency or disaster. As a result, at least five families now enjoy Brother Goeller’s quilts. “In this way they can feel not only physical warmth but the warmth of service and of the gospel,” he says.
Brother Goeller is a member of the Barrhead Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake.—, Barrhead, Alberta, Canada
A Noteworthy Teacher
In Rich Christensen’s office at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona, hangs a sampler that says, “You don’t have to practice every day … only on the days that you eat.—Shinichi Suzuki.” His daughter Susan stitched this quote for her father because, Brother Christensen says, “She knows what a stickler I am for practice.” Nevertheless, Brother Christensen attracts teenagers the way the latest CD does.
“Mr. C.,” as his students affectionately call him, teaches gospel concepts in a musical context. He does not tolerate vulgar language or actions in his classroom, explaining, “My students know they have to respect each other.” And when students ask for advice, he emphasizes the importance of high standards. Though Mesa was founded by Latter-day Saints, only 8 percent of Dobson High’s 3,200 students are Church members. “I have most of my students for three years, so I impact their values,” Brother Christensen says.
He inspires hard work and excellence in those he teaches. His symphonic orchestra was selected to play in the “World’s Largest Concert,” aired by PBS in March—the first time a public school musical group had been invited to perform in this annual event. They also received an invitation to perform in Chicago for approximately 10,000 music teachers from all over the world, and their achievements have been touted twice in Music Educators Journal, a national magazine.
Recently Brother Christensen received a teacher fellowship through the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Kjerstin (Kiki) Schaub is one former student for whom Mr. C. made a difference. In fact, in an essay for an English class she described him as the person who most influenced her life goals. “When I have felt unable to perform, he has expressed his faith in my ability,” she wrote. “He tells us how much he cares about us, and he lets us know that he is there for us if we need him. … I am indebted to him for … showing me the satisfaction of a life dedicated to serving and sharing with others.”
Not surprisingly, Brother Christensen is involved musically in his ward. He serves as choir director in the Alma 13th Ward, Mesa Arizona West Stake.—, Mesa, Arizona
A Burning Testimony in Iceland
In 1966 María Rósinkarsdóttir had a dream she would never forget. Her father, who was dead, came to her and said, “You will later do something in a foreign country that will be very important for your family.” It would be many years before she would understand the meaning behind his puzzling words.
It was a remarkable day when the missionaries knocked on her door for the first time. “I had always been very open and ready to listen to everyone who wanted to talk about religion,” she says. “But I would often try to contradict and ask a lot of questions. This time, it was just like God was telling me, ‘Now, listen! Don’t interrupt them; just listen!’”
Sister Rósinkarsdóttir did listen, and after a few discussions she decided she would be baptized. When she had been a member of the Church for only six months, she was called to be the first Icelandic Relief Society president. She was given a manual and a handbook in English but could not understand the language. Each week Sveinbjörg Gudmundsdóttir, a translator for the Church, translated the lessons into Icelandic. “I loved getting those lessons, and I read them over and over again,” Sister Rósinkarsdóttir recalls.
In time she began spending many hours in the family history library, searching out family records. “I had a distant goal of someday being able to take these records to the temple,” she says, “but I was afraid I would never realize this goal because of the language barrier”; the temple ceremony was not in Icelandic.
Finally, in 1994, after Sister Rósinkarsdóttir had been working on her family history for 19 years, the temple ordinance text was translated into Icelandic. She was overjoyed when she was able to travel to London the following year to attend the temple there.
As she entered that sacred building, she suddenly understood the meaning behind her father’s words so many years earlier. “Here I was, in a foreign country, prepared to do temple ordinances for my ancestors,” she remembers. “There are not words to describe the feeling I had at this time. When I came into the celestial room after my own endowment, I felt like Simeon of old when he saw the child Jesus in the temple. I, too, felt that after this experience, I could die in peace.”
Sister Rósinkarsdóttir is a member of the Reykjavik Branch in the Iceland District, Denmark Copenhagen Mission.—, Bountiful, Utah
She Does the “Write” Thing
Kristen Randle says she writes about “real life—hurt and joy and adversity and choice and the effort of man to live well and faithfully.” With a number of novels to her credit, she recently branched into the national U.S. book arena. Last year the Michigan Library Association named her book The Only Alien on the Planet its “Best Book of the Year for Young Adults.”
Sister Randle takes a subtle, values-oriented approach in her national-market books. Her teenage characters are lively and confused at times but determined to do right—and they attend church.
The mother of four, Sister Randle loves to be involved in the lives of her children and their friends. Recently she helped her son’s Scout troop complete a service project. The group canvassed the ward for old stuffed animals, which they cleaned and personalized before delivering them to a shelter for battered women.
Sister Randle appreciates the gospel’s influence on her young friends. “These kids are so alive and so unburdened by the darkness that hovers over so many,” she says. She serves as choir leader in the Lakeside Sixth Ward, Provo Utah West Stake.—, South Ogden, Utah
In the Spotlight
• Mark A. Vander Does of the Sunnyside Ward, Portland Oregon Stake, has received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal for “exceptional dedication in support of the NASA mission.” Brother Vander Does, a software engineer, was honored because of his “exceptional service, personal dedication and superior technical leadership.” The award is NASA’s most prestigious award presented to a nongovernmental employee.
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