Her Storehouse of Love

Helping other people has been Merle Palmer’s hobby for fifteen years. Sister Palmer, mother of three and a widow since 1966, has “retired” after giving 23,000 hours of volunteer service to the Church Storehouse Resource System. In 1971, Merle began assisting the manager of the Los Angeles Bishops’ Storehouse by filling orders for recipients. In the subsequent years, her service spanned seven different storehouse managers and aided some 60,000 recipients. “They kind of depended on me,” she says modestly, laughing a robust chuckle that comes readily when she talks.

“She worked as hard as a paid employee but was always a volunteer,” reports David Arnold, current storehouse manager. “Sister Palmer avoided recognition for this work. But she did so much for so many that she needs to be remembered.”

Besides her service in the storehouse, Merle Palmer has taught Sunday School and has been a visiting teacher. Now for twelve busy grandchildren, some of whom visit frequently, her hobby of helping continues as she welcomes the chance to love and serve them.Lila Hansen, Los Angeles, California

[photo] Merle Palmer’s hobby is helping. (Photo by Jerry Garns.)

The Missionary Pitch

As Gerri Ann Jones leaves the softball field for the mission field, she takes the enthusiasm and confidence of a champion with her.

Gerri Ann’s home is in the Mesa (Arizona) Seventeenth Ward, where she was star pitcher for Mesa Community College’s women’s softball team. So impressive was her pitching that an opposing team’s coach offered her a scholarship to his university when she graduated from the community college. Gerri later accepted his offer of an athletic scholarship to Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Washington. It was while playing for that team that she made a name for herself as a pitcher of shutouts. Her team made the finals of the 1988 National Fast-Pitch Softball Championships held in Oklahoma City, and in the five tournament games, Gerri pitched twenty scoreless innings and gave up only three runs. The next day, Gerri graduated and began making preparations for serving a mission. Gerri’s final pitch at the university was when she gave seven copies of the Book of Mormon to her coaches, certain professors, and teammates.

With her career as an honors student and outstanding athlete behind her, Gerri Ann is following the examples set by her older sister and brother, who both served missions, and her younger brother, Scott—confined to a wheelchair because of spina bifida—who serves as a guide at the Arizona Temple gardens and visitors’ center. Sister Gerri Ann Jones is now serving in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.James and Carolyn Foley, Parkland Ward, Puyallup Washington South Stake

[photo] Pitcher Gerri Ann Jones with her favorite equipment. (Photo by Phil Shurtleff.)

His Kind of Calling

If Albert Hamal knew you, he’d probably call you on your birthday. Brother Hamal, a retired furniture-store owner, likes to telephone others on their birthdays and anniversaries. “It all started with the furniture business, when I would call customers to greet them on their birthdays,” he says. Now, at eighty-six, he uses the ward list in the Salt Lake Garden Park Second Ward, where he is an active high priest, to call the members he knows and greet them on their special days. “I found it a friendly thing to do,” he says, adding, “I don’t take much of their time because I know everyone’s quite busy.” Albert calls it keeping in touch.

Albert and his wife, Lucille, have seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, all of whom love romping down the long, gently rolling hill of the Hamal back yard. The bowered gardens there would keep a botanist busy naming the varieties of flowers and plants. Each spring as the garden matures and overruns, the thinnings of impatiens, alyssum, violets, buttercups, and other flowers find their way into the gardens of friends. It’s another way Albert likes to keep in touch.

This month marks the sixty-fifth spring of the Hamals’s marriage. Quite likely the phone will ring, calling them from the garden more than once, as others wish them happy anniversary—keeping in touch.

[photo] Albert Hamal keeping in touch. (Photo by Phil Shurtleff.)

Awaking the Sleepy

Nestled in the foothills of Virginia near the West Virginia border is the sleepy village of Pearisburg. Darrell R. Mann is the bishop of the ward there. He is a most dynamic, energetic man and has worked closely with the missionaries in the Roanoke Virginia Mission to bring many people into the Church. The missionaries refer to Bishop “Ah-mann” as a modern-day Ammon, a “one-man missionary team,” because of his vigorous warmth. Since November 1986, he has influenced more than twenty-five people, mostly personal friends, to join the Church. He finds them, invites them to take the lessons, helps teach them, commits them to baptism, participates in the baptismal service, and then continues to fellowship them into full activity. Having awakened his friends and associates to the gospel, Bishop Mann is now awakening other members in Pearisburg to the joyful rewards of missionary service.James W. Ritchie, president, Roanoke Virginia Mission

[photo] Bishop Darrell Mann with his closest missionaries—his kids.

Open-House Granny

There may be as many approaches to missionary work as there are members of the Church. Katie Williams of the Dallas Tenth Ward is a great missionary known affectionately throughout the Dallas Texas Mission as “Granny.”

Sister Williams gained the nickname from offering her home for cottage meetings, where missionaries could bring investigators to teach them. She receives stacks of letters from missionaries thanking her for her part in teaching and converting this person or that. And she corresponds with many. Her shelves and walls contain mementos expressing love and appreciation from missionaries and converts. Granny Williams, who was born Katie Myra Carpenter in Corsicana, Texas, on 21 October 1909, was baptized in July 1982 by her son Jack. “I am so grateful for what the gospel has brought into my life and what it has done for my children and grandchildren that I would do anything to help the Church grow,” she beams.

[photo] Katie Williams surrounded by mementos. (Photo by Gerry Kano.)