First Captain and Brothers’ Keeper
Of the more than four thousand cadets enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1988–89, Captain Mark M. Jennings was selected first captain, making him the brigade commander of the entire corps of cadets. The appointment is the equivalent of being student-body president at a college—except that the selection is made by the faculty as well as by his peers.
“It was an honor and a great responsibility,” says Captain Jennings, who has also served as elders quorum president in the West Point Branch. A former full-time missionary in Korea, Mark and his quorum focused on missionary work in addition to their other duties. At least eleven investigators were baptized through their efforts.
Mark had a variety of unusual experiences while at West Point. He served on the speech-writing staff for General Carl Buono, the United States Army chief of staff, for several weeks, and he was host to the Russian military chief of staff during his visit to the academy.
Following his graduation in June, Mark was assigned to the First Ranger Battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia. “Whether I have a lifetime career in the military or not,” he says, “I have gained a great appreciation for my faith and my country.”
Back to the Fold and Now a Shepherd
After being less-active for seventeen years, Hoterene Mau decided to return to church. Still, it took him nearly eight months to pluck up the courage to enter the building. “When I finally entered, I sat down at the back, and I just couldn’t help feeling the Spirit that was there. It was so strong I cried for two hours. I knew right then and there this was where I had to be, and I have been to church ever since.”
Hoterene now serves as bishop of the Masterton ward in the Upper Hutt New Zealand Stake. But this has not been without great difficulty. Since his reactivation seven years ago, he has suffered kidney failure and must be on a dialysis machine for twenty-four hours each week.
The kidney failure kept him from his work as a truck driver for two years while his condition was being stabilized. During this time, the family existed on a sickness benefit but made sure they never missed paying their tithes and offerings. “It’s a great testimony to me that although it was hard at times, we always had enough for our needs,” Bishop Mau says.
Hoterene expresses great love for his wife, Annette, who strengthened him through all their challenges and cared for their four children at the same time. Annette currently serves as a Primary president.—, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Expressing Love with Chocolate
He’s not in the chocolate business, but you might think he was. Wherever Robert Dowling goes, he shares English chocolate with the people he meets. President of the Lichfield England Stake and a businessman, Bob Dowling travels to the U.S. fairly frequently. His carry-on luggage is often so full of English chocolate that it weighs more than his suitcase.
The friends President Dowling makes through his gifts of chocolate often turn out to be lasting friendships, and he finds ways of keeping in touch with people. He has always made a practice of writing to the parents of full-time missionaries in his stake, thanking them for sharing their offspring. And of course, whenever he receives a reply, he attempts to meet the people in person and give them a bar of English chocolate.
When Bob Dowling is in a new area of the U.S., he always asks the bishop for the address of anyone who is struggling. He then pays a visit and leaves his usual. It’s a kind of sweet thing to do.—, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, England
Four Million Salmon Call Her Mama
Upriver from the Puget Sound in Washington State, the Puyallup Tribe of native American Indians has a fish hatchery on an artesian well beside the Puyallup River. Connie Rae Matheson’s computer controls the hourly feedings for between four and five million salmon at the tribal hatchery. These coho, chum, steelhead, and chinook salmon enjoy the equivalent of three years’ growth in a single year because of the controlled environment. “The chances for survival of my little babies once they’re released in the open waters are vastly greater since they get the added growth here,” Connie says. “So I like to think of myself as their mom.” She’s referring to the value of her precise computerized feedings as well as the effect of the artesian water in which they develop.
A member of the Church since July 1987, Connie has begun “sharing the Book of Mormon with my tribe and my family. And some have shown interest.” She recently received her endowment in the Seattle Temple. “It was so beautiful, so peaceful, so reassuring,” she comments. She serves as first counselor in the Young Women presidency in the Tacoma Third Ward, Tacoma South Stake, where she enjoys playing the guitar and singing with the girls. She also writes poetry and has begun a narrative about her experience as a Native American on the Puyallup Indian Reservation.