Norma Love: Into the Jungle

Side-stepping along the narrow log spanning a snake-infested river, Norma Love held tightly to her guide’s hand, concentrating on keeping her balance, with her eyes focused on the far bank. Soon her foot touched solid ground again. Sister Love had overcome another obstacle to reach the forgotten and impoverished Indian refugees deep in the Honduras jungle near the border of Nicaragua.

Norma has lived her life by faith, following promptings that led her to the Church and helped her find ways to serve the Moskito Indians in a remote region of her native Honduras as well as the needy in Arlington, Texas, where she now resides.

When Norma was fourteen years old, she would stop at a small church building on her way home from school to listen to a pair of blond, blue-eyed missionaries give her the discussions. Although she believed the principles they taught her, Norma’s mother told her to stop her visits.

When Norma was eighteen years old, she moved to New York City and in 1964 attended the New York World’s Fair. There she discovered the Mormon Pavilion and asked to hear more about the Church. Living alone in a small apartment, Norma felt independent and confident enough to make her own decisions and was baptized. More than twenty years later she serves as Spiritual Living teacher in the Spanish-speaking branch in the Arlington stake and is still the only member of her family other than her children to join the Church.

A single mother with two grown daughters, Norma teaches high school and is a full-time college student and a volunteer at Arlington’s homeless shelter. Yet she still finds time to collect one hundred boxes of food, seeds, clothing, tools, and medical supplies, which she delivers personally to the Indians living in the hard-to-reach refugee camps in Honduras.

Despite warnings that she would be risking her life in the harsh jungles filled with predators, disease, and unstable military operations, Sister Love felt compelled to help these people after hearing of their plight through news reports. With the assistance of her sister, a Red Cross official, Norma flew on a light plane, hitched rides on trucks, and canoed through swamps to learn for herself the extent of their need. What she found was “people of great faith, who read the Bible, sing hymns, pray often, and keep the Sabbath.”

Each Christmas for three years now, Norma Love has risked her life to return with provisions and copies of the Book of Mormon to share with the Indians. According to Sister Love, “generous people have contributed food, clothing, medical supplies, and educational materials so badly needed there. Others have miraculously offered transportation or protection as I’ve traveled in high-risk areas.”

During Norma’s second Christmas effort, so many boxes and bags full of supplies appeared on her doorstep that she was unsure how she would actually get everything there. She just kept packing and praying, while contacting airlines and different organizations hoping to find someone to transport the supplies.

Through various forms of international cooperation, everything came together. By Christmas she was on her way again, with supplies that would let the Indians know they were not forgotten and give them hope to continue until their circumstances change.

As Norma gave copies of the Book of Mormon to the Indian pastors, she told them, “I believe in this book. Please read it and teach it to your people.” They did just that.

“Whenever I am among these humble people,” says Norma, “I am moved by their faith and look forward to the time when conditions will permit the missionaries to share the gospel with them.”

[photo] Photo by David C. Needham

Nancy Kinsey Needham is a homemaker and mother of four in the Forest Hill Ward, Arlington Texas Stake.

Giulia Trabuio: Her Fountain of Youth

“My children tell me that the Church has made me young, that I have changed,” says Giulia Trabuio.

Her children must be right. Sister Trabuio’s energy and vibrancy belie her age. In 1987, then in her early seventies, she completed nearly fifteen months as a missionary. Her children were pleased with her decision to serve a mission—even though they are not members of the Church—because of the difference they have seen the gospel make in her life. For the same reason, a daughter paid Sister Trabuio’s way to the temple the first time she attended.

Sister Trabuio has been a member of the Mestre Ward, Venice Italy Stake, for more than ten years. In the ward, she is known for her willingness to work. She explains simply that she does everything she is called to do; then, if there is more to be done to serve others, she does that, too.

Sister Trabuio spent the first part of her mission in Florence and Rome with younger companions. But she enjoyed most her eight months in the Swiss Temple.

Despite her age and a few physical aches and pains, when there is an opportunity to make the trip to the temple in Switzerland, she still enjoys going and working from 6:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. “And the wonderful thing is that I don’t get tired,” she says. “When I enter the temple, I’m a different person. If I could stay there until I die, I’d do it.”

[photo] Photography by Don Searle

Roger Drinkall and Dian Baker: Harmonious

When internationally known cellist Roger Drinkall first performed with pianist Dian Baker, it was love at first measure. “It was as if we both had identical feelings about the music,” recalls Brother Drinkall. “I’d never enjoyed such oneness with another musician. Without planning or even discussing the dynamics of the pieces we played, our interpretations were totally harmonious. It was uncanny.”

Since that first performance as a musical duo, the partnership has become a marriage, and Brother and Sister Drinkall have performed in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. But “some very important things happened” before their marriage, Roger explains. “The most important thing was my conversion to the Church.” Dian had been a member of the Church ever since her brother invited the missionaries to teach her family twenty-two years ago. At her encouragement, Roger met with the missionaries.

Shortly after their first meeting, Roger left the country on a concert tour. Dian wrote him, sending excerpts from her journal. She expressed her feelings about him and about the importance of a temple marriage. “Roger wrote back with questions about temples,” remembers Dian, smiling. “That opened the door to our discussions of eternity, discussions that we continue to have.”

Their spiritual lives and their musical lives have blended together as the tones of their two instruments blend in a performance—complements with distinct sounds—each giving the other a fullness that neither alone would have. In sacrament meetings and firesides, Dian and Roger have shared their music and testimonies hundreds of times and in many different cultures.

As they perform together, the delicate sound of his bow on the cello strings, a velvet voice distinct from the sharper and clearer voice of her piano, they combine in a remarkably unified richness of tone.

Dian tends to handle the business end of their concert touring, keeping the schedule in numerous files and, Roger says, “in her computer mind.” For his part, Roger likes to cook, and they try lots of concoctions together.

After thirteen years at Florida State University in Tallahassee, the Drinkalls recently joined the music department at Brigham Young University. “Our celebration of music is one way of expressing our testimony of God’s love for us,” Roger explains. “Music is such a heavenly expression, a language that speaks directly to the heart, transcending cultural and social barriers. It is a pure means of sharing love of beauty.”

[photo] Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff

David Gardiner: The Priesthood Difference

David Gardiner is a firm believer in using the priesthood often. “Priesthood power is the greatest blessing I could have in this life,” he says emphatically. “I wish I had always known of this great power for good.”

David and Linda Gardiner have been members of the Church since October 1969. At the time, they were living temporarily away from their native Canada in London, England. Two missionaries met Linda in a laundromat and later called on the family. The Gardiners were baptized in the Hyde Park Chapel just days before returning to Canada.

The parents of four children, David and Linda now make their home in St. Catharines, Ontario, “just down the road” from Niagara Falls.

David is president of a company that operates seagoing vessels carrying grain, coal, and other commodities throughout the Great Lakes and to ports in Europe, South America, and elsewhere. He has also been serving as bishop of the St. Catharines Ward. He is known for a ready smile, a good sense of humor, and the ability to delegate—or, as he says, “building a good team and letting them go to work.”

“My real understanding of delegating to others came when I began to understand the priesthood,” says Bishop Gardiner. “It greatly expanded my sense of the good that can be done by others.”

“When I learned how to use the priesthood, we began in our family to give priesthood blessings. I think that’s the key. We’ve learned to use and be directed by the Spirit. We don’t do anything really significant as a family without first going to the Lord, and if it’s appropriate, we exercise a priesthood blessing. That really makes a difference for us.”

Lane Johnson is a writer who lives in the Prairie Second Ward, West Jordan Utah Prairie Stake, where he serves as stake mission president.