Janice C. Loar: Weakness Is Her Strength
When Jan Loar (then Jan Christensen) turned fifteen, she contracted polio. She can still remember the despair she felt as a teenage girl who loved sports—especially running and dancing—and had hopes of becoming a mother.
“They put me in the iron lung at the hospital,” Jan remembers, “and I wondered why I couldn’t just die. There didn’t seem to be anything to live for. My whole life was physical—doing things.”
It was then that her patriarchal blessing became a spiritual guide. “My blessing promised me that my supreme calling in life would be motherhood,” Jan explains. “This gave me my only hope. So I set my heart on getting out of that iron lung, out of the hospital, and on with my life.”
In nine months, Jan was out of the hospital and immersed in many projects. Though she did not feel sorry for herself, she did everything with great difficulty because she had limited use of her arms and hands and legs. She had so little strength and such little control over her muscles that even reading a book was an arduous task.
Then a special stand was provided with which Jan could read the scriptures. She found that one passage continually fortified her faith and determination. It was the parable of the mustard seed.
Today, the seed of faith she planted then has grown into a fruitful tree: children. Silver-haired Janice Loar is the mother of seven. Her faith and determination are now combined with her husband Marvin’s as they face some of life’s most difficult challenges.
In 1981, while Marvin was transporting Boy Scouts home from an outing, a drunk driver smashed their car, critically injuring Marvin and killing two of their sons, ages eleven and twelve. Without bitterness, Jan continues to listen to promptings that assure her of mortality’s invaluable though painful lessons.—, Mesa, Arizona
Roy Webster: To Swim and Not Be Weary
At eighty-seven, Roy Webster is more than just a casual fitness buff. Roy swims half a mile three days a week, and on the days in between he lifts weights. He celebrated his eightieth birthday by jogging six miles, swimming three, and then going six rounds in the ring against a boxing coach.
Such feats would bring anyone his age plenty of notoriety. But what Roy Webster is best known for in his hometown of Hood River, Oregon, where he farmed apples and pears for thirty years, is the “Roy Webster Columbia River Cross-Channel Swim.”
The event, sponsored by the Hood River Chamber of Commerce, is now held on Labor Day weekend and attracts some 350 participants, who swim 1.1 miles across the river. The idea began back in 1942, when Roy first moved there from New York and decided to swim across the river. It became an annual tradition that gradually attracted more and more people.
His aquatic interests took on a new dimension about twelve years ago when a swimming coach noticed Roy working out at a pool in Portland and suggested that the then 75-year-old was good enough to compete in swimming meets. The coach was right—Roy’s first competition yielded five gold medals. Since then, he has competed in so many races and won so many medals and trophies that he gives them away to his twenty grandchildren.
A few years ago, his doctor advised him against swimming in the 67-degree Hood River due to the risk of hypothermia, so he stopped. “It’s not too difficult for distance,” says the slender, fit octogenarian, “but the cold gives me chills.”
In 1988, Brother Webster was asked to be the grand marshal of the Labor Day event, handing out certificates as swimmers reached the shore. In a poem he wrote for the occasion, he refers to the event as “not a race, not a contest, just an achievement.”
His own life is exemplary of such achievement. He has only two regrets after all those years spent in pools and rivers: he never learned the butterfly stroke, and he can’t do flip turns.—, Holladay, Utah
Gay Cleverly: The Healing Art
Gay Cleverly loves to paint. But because she has cerebral palsy, Sister Cleverly can paint only by holding the brush between her teeth.
Still, Gay paints as often as she can. She recently donated one of her landscape paintings to help raise money for a charity. She thinks of her artistic talents, as well as her other talents, as gifts from the Lord—gifts given her to share with others.
Besides her painting, Gay faithfully keeps a journal and has a fervent missionary zeal. With a rather limited income, she has managed to send out seventy-three copies of the Book of Mormon.
Those who know Gay know that, though she may have severe physical limitations, her compassion for the conditions of other people is strong and well-developed. Last Christmas, she wanted to do something for someone she thought might be “worse off” than she was. A young family in difficulty was identified, and from Gay’s meager funds, she bought gifts for the baby girl. In the spring, when Gay found out that the child had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, she pledged ten dollars for ten years to the SIDS foundation for research.
Of all the service Gay gives, however, none is as near to her heart as serving in the temple, which she does at every opportunity. “If I could,” she says, “I would spend all day every day there.”
As she struggles to serve in the temple, her love of what she is doing is evident to those around her. They feel her intense yearning for eternity when she will be whole in body and able to sing, run, dance, and play. Gay Cleverly believes that our physical limitations are only temporary, and she lives by that belief.—, Murray, Utah