Berget Herb: The Renaissance Woman of Freiberg
When Berget Herb went to Augsberg, Germany, to study chemistry, she was not looking for a husband. But her mother saw to it that Berget was located in suitable living accomodations “near a good LDS family.” Since the branch in her home village of Ansbach had six members, and Berget was the only child, her mother felt it was important that she meet other young people who believed as she did. And that’s what happened.
Twenty-two years ago, Berget met Manfred Herb, whose parents owned the building in which she boarded as a student. Today at age 46, Berget is the mother of two lovely daughters—Corenna and Maritta—and three handsome sons, Ronald, Gregor, and Eric. Berget has worked as a chemist, gives language lessons, and plays three musical instruments. She has filled her life and home with the benefits of her many hobbies.
Her handiwork can be seen throughout their country village home, in Wolfenweiler, seven kilometers from Freiberg. Accenting the brightly lit sitting room is a beautiful macrame sunwheel—the result of one of many adult education courses she enjoys taking. On the shelves above the stereo deck are attractive pots she turned out during another series of classes in pottery. Photography is yet another of her accomplishments, and a hobby she pursues enthusiastically.
“I am interested in almost everything,” she says in flawless English but with typical German reserve. Her expressive brown eyes are framed by shiny dark hair pulled back in a loose ponytail.
Though reserved, Berget Herb is direct. “I love music, especially classical music,” she may tell you, though she doesn’t have to. It is nearly always playing in her home. Beside her couch, in front of a multi-paned window, sits an organ, which she learned to play when she was twelve years of age. She learned to play the accordion at about the same time, and the flute even earlier.
Over the years, and often simultaneously, Berget has taught a Sunday School class, been organist in Sunday School, Primary, and Relief Society, and frequently directed the music as she played. She has served as Relief Society president and is now second counselor in the ward Relief Society presidency as well as ward music director.
Her daughters are grown now, but when they were younger, Sister Herb decorated a bedroom-playroom in bright colors. It had two miniature doll houses she constructed and furnished herself. Every Monday as the children grew, Berget would take them to a gymnasium filled with exercise equipment and games. She even took a class in judo with them.
For the past fifteen years, Manfred has worked in Frankfurt for the genealogical society, which has meant that during the week, the demands of caring for their children have been hers. “It has been hard on all of us,” declared Berget, “but we have a close and supportive family. And Manfred is going to start a new business here at home now.”
Sister Herb’s interests appear endless. She wants to expand her skills in music, sewing, and English. “I am not satisfied,” she says. “I always want to be learning.”
Artur de Carvalho: He Knew the Sound of Truth
The case was troubling for Portuguese labor judge Artur Manuel Ventura de Carvalho. An employer was being prosecuted for not paying the legally mandated adult wage to a young man in his employ.
But the young man, though in his late twenties, was mentally handicapped; his productivity was not as high as that of other employees. He was the sole support of his mother, and the employer, sympathetic to his need, would nevertheless be forced to let him go if ordered to pay a higher wage.
Nevertheless, the decision required by federal laws seemed plain. “My difficulty was that I felt something was not right in this case,” says soft-spoken Brother Carvalho. “I prayed, and suddenly the answer came.” He declared that although the young man was legally of age to receive the required minimum wage, his mental age and work capacity did not warrant the adult pay level. Therefore, the employer was exempted from the demands of the law. The young man kept his job, and the grateful employer even raised his wage a bit to help the man better support his mother.
Brother Carvalho has come to accept the fact that if he is in tune with the Spirit, he may receive direction in his thinking.
“When I have a difficult decision, I pray to the Lord, and I receive help in a special way,” he says.
There was, for example, one very complex case which “I had no idea how to decide. I knew the law, but I was confused,” he recalls. He prayed about it, and one particular point of law that clarified the matter stood out in his mind. Later, an attorney mentioned that it seemed remarkable the judge had so clearly seen that point. But, Brother Carvalho says, “I am absolutely certain that I received guidance from the Lord.”
Members of the Lisbon Second Ward know Artur Ventura de Carvalho as a judge in another sense: he is their bishop. It is only one of several leadership calls—including counselor in two stake presidencies—he has received since his baptism in mid-1979.
But he might have seemed an unlikely future bishop when the missionaries first knocked on his door that spring.
“What God?” he replied when they asked if he believed in Deity. It was not the question of an unbeliever, but of one who had studied a variety of religions and could not understand why there were so many different concepts of a Supreme Being. When the missionaries explained that they had a message about Christ, however, his heart was touched and he listened.
“I believe God prepared me over many years to accept the gospel,” Bishop Carvalho reflects. Neither he nor his wife believed the doctrines of the dominant church in their country; both had sought the truth and were ready to receive it. His own study had already convinced him that God must have a physical body. He was also impressed by the missionaries’ teaching that the LDS Church is a restored church, with Apostles and prophets as in Christ’s organization of old.
Living the Word of Wisdom in wine-producing Portugal might pose problems for some, but Bishop Carvalho had no trouble giving up the occasional social drink. In addition, he had always believed it was wrong to smoke, and he felt it a privilege to help support the Lord’s work with his tithing.
But Bishop Carvalho did not come from a close family, and joining the Church helped him learn how to be a better parent and spouse. “I didn’t understand my responsibilities as a father. Sometimes, when I came home from work I ignored my family; all I could think of was how tired I was,” he explains. “The gospel was like a light that showed me the way. I began to understand my purpose as a man and as a father.”
Now, Bishop Carvalho says, he could not handle his many work and Church responsibilities without the support of his wife and two children. He says also that it is a great blessing to have been called to serve in the Swiss Temple, because temple work is so important to him. He functions in the calling when he travels to Switzerland with Portuguese temple excursion groups.
“The gospel, for me, is simple. It is an honor to serve the Lord.” One of his prime objectives as bishop has been to teach members that the gospel means serving God by serving their brothers and sisters.
Bishop Carvalho knows from experience the blessings that come through trying to follow the example of the Master.
David R. Irwin: Signs of Love
In 1964, the Beatles made Liverpool a household word. That year, two lady missionaries near Liverpool converted seventeen-year-old David Irwin of Southport, Merseyside, England. If anyone had told him then that in sixteen years’ time he would be serving as a bishop, taking an advanced degree at Liverpool University, teaching the deaf, and touring Britain with a musical he had written and produced, his new faith would have found its limits. “I would not have believed it,” he smiles. “But that was before I knew what the Lord could do for a person.”
David’s schooling had been minimal. He left school early without a degree and with no special inclination toward music other than the attraction a teenager living near Liverpool might have felt for the Beatles as they were becoming international pop stars. But teaching Sunday School whetted David’s appetite for teaching. He realized that he was capable of doing more with his life. But where should he begin?
An answer began to form when he served as a district missionary and met a full-time missionary named Bill Garff, whose advice was “Get into college; save your money and attend BYU.”
Initially, David’s application to BYU was not accepted. But that week he received his patriarchal blessing in Manchester, and the patriarch included in that blessing the words, “You will further your education abroad.”
Less than a week later, another letter came from BYU, saying that if he could pay his way and keep his grades up, he could attend.
David felt prompted to choose drama as his course of study. In 1970 he won an award as best character actor and in 1972 the speech and drama award for best student teacher of drama.
Toward the end of his training, David became interested in helping the deaf. “While teaching children with full hearing, I could see the fulfillment and satisfaction they achieved from drama,” he comments. “It hit me one day that perhaps drama was a good vehicle for stimulating and developing language among deaf children.”
David proposed a trial project, working with seven- to nine-year-old deaf students from a local school. This proved so successful that the exercise remained part of the drama curriculum.
The following year, he returned to England to teach. There he met and married Lyn Protheroe, a teacher from Colwyn Bay, North Wales. Before long, David was granted a teaching position while he continued his studies in deaf education. In England these positions are not normally given without five years’ work experience. “I felt extremely blessed when I was offered a place at Manchester University for a one-year course with full teacher’s pay,” David recalls. That led to another job in Liverpool, this time in a special unit for deaf children.
In 1975, David began to direct his expertise in drama to benefit the Church. Asked to prepare a play to be performed at seminary graduation in Preston, he wrote a dramatization of part of Dickens’s The Uncommercial Traveler, which he called “The Immigrant Ship.” The play was well received.
The summer of 1976 saw David, Lyn, and baby daughter Carys Anne back in Utah. “I longed to share with my wife some of the wonderful friendships I’d made at BYU,” says David. However, despite David’s love of Salt Lake City and good employment teaching the deaf, he was about to discover where his duty really lay.
One morning during a priesthood meeting in the East Millcreek stake, the speaker talked mainly of youth and missions. “I left that meeting with some very deep thoughts regarding the mission field,” David says. “After prayerful discussion with Lyn, we both felt a strong desire to return to England. That was our future, the place the Lord had work for us to accomplish.”
With no home or job in mind, the Irwins—who now had a new baby, David—packed their bags once more and headed for Britain. Within weeks of their arrival, former contacts led David to an assignment as a traveling teacher of the deaf, covering areas throughout Lancashire. About this same time, David was called to serve as bishop of the Southport Ward.
Responding to the demands of a growing family, serving as bishop, and studying for his master’s degree were challenging, to say the least. But more challenges were in store for David.
At a meeting of stake presidents of the Manchester England Region in February 1980, the question was asked, “Do we have anyone who could write and produce a twenty-minute play to honor the Church’s worldwide sesquicentennial celebrations?”
Boris Roberts of the Liverpool stake raised his hand. “Yes, my bishop could do that,” he offered.
David agreed to do the play. It soon became obvious to him, however, that the twenty-minute play was meant to be much more. Inspiration for the first part came from the story of Mary Goble Pay’s pioneer journey from England. “I found her courage and tragic experience particularly moving,” says David, “so I decided to center the story on the gospel’s impact upon people of that day, followed by modern-day converts and its impact on them.”
At the time he was writing the musical he was traveling extensively, so he composed many lines mentally while driving. As the words for songs entered his mind, David would pull onto the side of the road and scribble them down on backs of envelopes or whatever scrap of paper came to hand. A story began to take shape, but it was much more like a full-length musical than a twenty-minute play.
Assistance for writing the music came in the form of a young missionary—a talented musician named Barlow Bradford—who was in the right place at the right time. His mission president gave permission, and Elder Bradford began writing the music David sang. The mission president also allowed another missionary, Andrew Turner, to assist in writing the guitar music; eventually he also performed onstage.
That December saw the opening in Liverpool of Britain’s first LDS musical, A Certain Call. The three-night production was so successful that the performers took the play on tour.
Conversion, reactivation, and rededication of members followed performances throughout Britain. At the London Temple Silver Jubilee celebration, A Certain Call thrilled all who attended. But that was by no means its last performance. A recording of the music was made, and in 1982 the play was performed at BYU, at the University of Utah, and in stake centers throughout Salt Lake City.
Just as his talent has developed, David’s career has also progressed. In 1986 he became deputy headmaster of one of Britain’s largest schools for the deaf, in Exeter, Devon. In a real way, David Irwin’s talents are his career, and he has devoted his life to helping others develop theirs.