Risks and Blessings
Big-city police work has its risks and its stress. Mike Lynch of the Branham Ward, San Jose California South Stake, knows the risks and the stress firsthand. But he loves the work and credits the gospel with giving him the inner peace to cope.
In 1978, Mike and his wife, Marilyn, moved their family from Big Piney, Wyoming, where he had been a sheriff and law instructor for five years, to San Jose, which is one thousand times larger than Big Piney. Mike describes the difference: “In Wyoming, you knew everyone in town, and there was always a personal greeting. The big city is much more intense and stressful—at times dehumanizing. This work makes you grateful for the gospel perspective on life, on right and wrong.”
After eighteen years of police work, Mike still enjoys public service—whether in a small town or a big city. “It’s not just a job,” he says. “Public service is an opportunity to help people when they’re in trouble and help them hold their lives together.”
A father of seven children, Mike doesn’t talk much about the risks of his work, but he’s not afraid to take them. For example, late one night in February 1990, as he drove through his assigned area, Mike noticed smoke pouring from an apartment building. He radioed for help, and soon he and two colleagues were forming a human chain, crawling through the smoke-filled second floor. Shouts raised no one, so Mike and his colleagues broke into an apartment and found a young couple and small baby asleep. Before the flames engulfed their room, the family was safe outside.
For his lifesaving measures, Mike received the William Poelle Living Service Award from San Jose police chief Joseph McNamara on 1 March 1990.
Mike keeps things like awards and rewards in perspective and doesn’t get too excited by them. “I love Church history, biographies, and historical fiction,” he says. “What I enjoy most are the great examples of the good people do. There’s no end to the good we can each be a part of.”—, San Jose, California
In True Fashion
Those at the orphanage in India call her Didi, which means “big sister,” a title of affection granted to only a few. Cecile Pelous, of the Paris First Ward, Paris France Stake, is a fashion designer. She has designed for the finest names in fashion—Dior, Cardin, Ricci. But the world of high fashion became only a means to a more important end when Cecile visited India in July 1986.
That summer, Cecile spent six weeks working with the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa and the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calcutta, helping with sick children, the elderly, and the handicapped. Then she worked in the slums of Pilkana, where she learned of the problems of the young orphan children for whom the Indian government cannot afford to care.
Sister Pelous lived and worked in an ashram (a religious retreat) in Banipur, one of eight orphanages for children from ages five to twelve. “The conditions there moved me so deeply,” Cecile comments, “that I knew I had to find a way to get back again to help.”
She returned to her job in Paris, determined to save enough money to help construct a chicken coop and buy hens to provide eggs to feed the undernourished children. With savings and donations from friends and family, she returned to India in August 1987 to carry out the poultry project. She also purchased thirty geese and distributed them to the eight orphanages.
In 1988, Cecile returned to Salkhia, near Calcutta, and taught orphan girls ages twelve to seventeen to print batik designs on material, which they could then sell to provide funds for the orphanage. Cecile’s fashion design experience gave her sufficient knowledge to train the girls to make patterns and to cut and sew their own clothing. The girls now produce all the clothes for the more than eight hundred children in the eight orphanages. In 1989, Sister Pelous also organized a day-care center in Belari for forty children, ages three through five.
“Once people have sufficient food and clothing, they can begin to respond to the gospel,” says Cecile. She is learning Bengali herself and has given copies of the Book of Mormon in Bengali to people who have asked her about the Church and its beliefs.
A Life at the Hub of the Wheel
Reed Bradford, a young LDS missionary, feared his life was at an end that day in 1933. Four men viciously beat and kicked him because he had declined to salute the swastika flag of Nazi Germany. He was saved from death because two Germans pointed out to the Gestapo police who were beating him that he was an American.
During the terrifying moments when the young missionary feared for his life, his mind had been filled with two thoughts: first, sorrow for the things he had done that didn’t harmonize with the Savior’s teachings; and second, gratitude that he was prepared to die as a servant of the Savior.
His close encounter with death gave Reed the opportunity to find the purpose in life he had sought since his youth. It is a purpose that has guided him through the decades of his distinguished teaching career at Brigham Young University and has directed him well in his loving service to family, friends, and Church.
Young Reed learned to think of the purpose he sought in life as the “hub of the wheel.” If he could put the divine purpose for his individual life at the hub, with supporting activities radiating out from it like spokes, he felt confident that it would be possible to join his soul to the kingdom of heaven. So, nearing the end of his mission in Germany, he retired to a beautiful, tranquil spot, as he knew the Savior had sometimes done, to ponder, meditate, and pray.
“A divine thought and impression came to my soul,” he recalls. “It was: ‘The main goal of your life is to become my son.’” He later realized that this admonition is given repeatedly in the scriptures. But at the time he simply knew it was to be his individual goal; to achieve it, he would have to take the Savior as his model, choosing the goals and the methods of reaching them that the Savior would choose.
That object has been a lifelong quest for Reed Bradford. Friends, family members, and his thousands of former students would probably say he has achieved many Christlike qualities. Even those who have known him only casually recall him as one of the kindest, most loving people they have ever met. But typically, Brother Bradford still considers each day an opportunity to continue working toward his goal.
For the past several years, each new day has been a gift, because he has been battling cancer of the liver. When he first learned of the disease, he carefully considered the limited options explained by his doctor, then determined “to live each day as it comes, and try some old standbys like prayer and special diet.”
He is no stranger to trials and difficulty. When he was a young husband, his wife, Nora, died after five and a half years of marriage. He did not plan to marry again, but the Spirit of the Lord intervened. Brother Bradford considers himself lucky to have found Shirley Aamodt to be his wife; they have been married for more than forty years.
Shirley bore seven children. All of them are grown now except one who died in infancy. Then, when Reed was sixty and Shirley was forty-seven, they determined to adopt additional children. Their goal was to help children who needed a home and also to affect for good those children’s yet-unborn posterity. Because of the Bradfords’ ages, adopting their youngest son (who is now in his late teens) was a long legal ordeal. It was an even longer battle to adopt their youngest daughter, who was born in China and is now in her mid-teens.
Reed is sincerely grateful for his opportunities to serve. He is reluctant to talk about the honors he has received during his career, but there have been many. He was named Distinguished Sociologist of 1981, for example, by his colleagues in the Utah Sociological Society. Twice he has been honored by BYU for excellence in teaching, and once as professor of the year. One meaningful award came from the BYU Honor Council, which helps promote high standards of behavior and personal integrity among students. The award recognized his eight years of service to the council and cited his “unfailing testimony of personal commitment.”
A recent recognition of his service to others came on 26 October 1990, when he received the Distinguished Service Award from the BYU Alumni Association. Brother Bradford reflects that when he first joined the BYU faculty, he determined that above all, he would teach the gospel of Christ, the principles Jesus lived and taught.
Brother Bradford has also served the Church in a variety of callings, including serving on the Adult Curriculum Committee several years ago.
In whatever he has done, for more than half a century Reed Bradford has been guided by that goal he set, near the end of his full-time mission in Germany, to put the principles of the gospel at the hub of his wheel of life. He says that he determined then to try to become like the Savior “in as many ways as possible. I would seek his understanding and wisdom. And I would try to love as he loves.”—, Bountiful, Utah
Six years ago, when she was four years old, Krystal Shirley darted into the path of a speeding car. She fractured her spine at the base of her neck and was permanently paralyzed. Dalby Shirley and his wife, Kathlene, of the North Las Vegas Seventh Ward, were told that Krystal, the second of their three children, probably would not live, and that if she did, she would never move, never talk, and never leave the hospital.
“We prayed for miracles,” recalls Kathlene. “We prayed first for her life,” and when that blessing was granted, “we prayed that Heavenly Father would restore her body. Prayers, blessings, and ward fasts all focused on Krystal. Today, although she moves only her head, she does talk, and she lives at home.”
Because Krystal’s lungs are paralyzed, she must be connected to a ventilator, a large machine that forces air in and out of her lungs through a tracheostomy in her throat. When she must be away from the machine, a football-sized bag is attached to her trach, which allows someone to manually breathe for her.
For four years following the accident, diaphragmatic pacers, which draw air in and out of her lungs, were implanted under her arms. This allowed Krystal to be away from the ventilator for up to seven hours on good days. Krystal says the pacers helped her look “like any other ordinary kid in a wheelchair.” When the pacers failed, they were replaced by four-inch trach tubes that enter her throat through the tracheostomy.
Although hospital stays have been frequent, in the spring of 1985, Krystal became one of the few permanently respiratory-dependent children to leave Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital for home care.
Krystal’s mother, using sterile hospital procedures, maintains a rigorous daily routine that includes frequent cleaning and care of the tubes that keep Krystal going—the gastric tube to her stomach for feeding and medication, since Krystal’s appetite is generally poor; the Broviak tube that enters the main artery to the heart to supply medication; the tracheostomy and circuits that connect her to the ventilator. The tracheostomy has been instrumental in helping Krystal communicate. With air passing over her vocal cords from leaks around her trach, Krystal has taught herself to speak in a completely normal voice. It’s her voice that reveals her delightful sense of humor. Once, when the ICU nurses were searching in her room for a misplaced electronic thermometer, Krystal gleefully quipped, “Well, we know I didn’t take it.”
In the last year, Krystal has undergone several surgeries, which have added complications to the already demanding care that she requires. In addition to caring for the tubes, Kathlene must see that Krystal’s body is bathed, lotioned, and massaged daily. And her limbs also must be kept supple by range-of-motion exercises three times a day.
At times, the exercises have been performed by teams of family members—especially Kathlene’s parents, who are often at her side—friends, and ward volunteers. Since Krystal can never be left alone, a nurse now spends a nightly 8-hour shift with her, but her parents have spent many 24-hour days caring for her.
One thing the Shirleys didn’t pray for at the time of the accident, but which they have discovered, is Krystal’s spiritual development. When Krystal was only four, she told her father, “I can’t move my arms, and I can’t move my legs, but I can think.” And she thinks a lot about spiritual things. When she turned eight, Krystal insisted on being baptized, regardless of the real possibility that she could drown or be deprived of oxygen for too long. Her uncle “breathed” for her, using the manual ventilator, and held her nose while her father performed the baptism. Her parents also used the manual ventilator to help her breathe for two hours during a tour of the Las Vegas Temple, and for three hours when she attended that temple’s dedication. Her Primary class comes from the meetinghouse next door to bring Primary to Krystal. She reads the Book of Mormon daily, turning the pages with a pencil held in her teeth.
Krystal’s courage and her family’s dedication to her and the gospel have affected many people—strengthening testimonies, shoring up faltering determinations, and introducing many to the gospel. Dalby says, “We have to depend on the Lord for everything.” Kathlene adds, “It doesn’t matter what happens in life; it is what we do with it that counts.”—, St. George, Utah, and , Santa Clara, Utah