Los Angeles California Canoga Park Stake President M. Curtis Price didn’t think he was even invited to the Emmy Awards celebration the year he won “Best Sound for a Comedy Series.”
But luckily a friend at work convinced President Price to get a ticket. He ended up attending the awards ceremony at the last minute, having no idea he would be receiving an Emmy Award for his sound work on the “Food Fight” episode of the weekly Frank’s Place.
Comfortable with his place behind the scenes, President Price rarely tells people about his work as part of the crew responsible for music, dialogue, and sound effects for more than half a dozen well-known TV series.
“President Price’s job is demanding,” says Don Parker, a counselor in the stake presidency. “Sometimes he works through the night with only two or three hours of sleep, but he is dedicated and comes to every Church event he possibly can.”
“He is a stable person in a sea of storm,” adds his wife, Ellen. “He never shifts to the side when we have problems in our family.”
Curtis and Ellen have six children of their own but have also welcomed forty-five foster children, seven young single mothers, and three Lamanite children into their home during the past twenty years. They also had a Vietnamese family of six stay with them for a few months during the Vietnam War.
Setting a good example for members of his stake, President Price has made it clear to his employers that he will work only with television shows so as to avoid working on R-rated movies.
Doug Grindstaff, vice-president of Pacific Sound Services, says, “Curtis has set his standards high. If he had decided to work with feature films it would have been quite a career, but he has chosen a higher route.”
Even working with television, Curtis Price still has to deal with scenes that are not in accordance with the gospel. “Satan is working harder than ever, and one of the ways he does it is through the entertainment industry,” he says. “Drinking, drugs, and immorality on television are made to appear so appealing. We must make the decision to avoid these things.”—, Provo, Utah
Beth Sorensen and Joe Ann Smith know that Latter-day Saints should be willing to go the extra mile in order to serve others, but they don’t bother keeping track of how many extra miles it takes.
Beth, who served a mission in Canada, lives in the Wilson Ward, and Joe Ann, who served a mission in Holland, lives in the Ivins Ward, both in the Salt Lake Wells Stake, and they’ve been friends for a long time.
“One Labor Day weekend, Joe Ann asked me what we should do with time off from work,” recalls Beth. “I told her I really ought to go down to California to help my sister with some of her yard care and housework.”
To that, Joe Ann responded, “Well, let’s do it!” And they were on the road to Downey, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, where Beth’s sister lives.
After the fourteen-hour drive, Beth and Joe Ann arrived and allowed themselves a ten-minute rest from the road before they plunged in to their “work of love.”
Beth’s sister, Harriet E. Singer, eighty-five at the time, was slowing down. She had always kept a tidy house and yard, so Beth knew it would mean a great deal to her to have some help with the polishing, pruning, and trimming.
Beth and Joe Ann pulled weeds, raked leaves, trimmed trees, and turned flower beds, filling sixteen bags and eight barrels with leaves and weeds. Then, after washing the exterior of the house and cleaning windows till they sparkled, they went inside and vacuumed, scrubbed, and dusted.
After the flurry of work was done, the two extra-milers took Harriet out to dinner and toured the city and the beaches. The next day they all attended church together. On Monday, Beth and Joe Ann headed home, feeling the satisfaction that compassionate service brings. The round-trip was 1,550 miles, and since that first set of extra miles, they visited Harriet two or three times a year for five years, until Harriet passed away recently. “It’s our work of love,” Beth says, smiling.
When Kathy Summers isn’t being a volunteer clown working with children who have life-threatening illnesses, she is a homemaker in Kailua, Hawaii. She and her husband, Keith, have six daughters and three sons.
“I came to be a clown in a different way than most,” says Kathy. “We lost a baby, born prematurely at home; then we had our last daughter. After her birth, I became very ill for a long time. When I was finally well again, I felt I had a second chance at life and wanted to help dying people.” But she didn’t know how. Furthermore, she was busy rearing her family.
Kathy read about a man who had clowned to cheer the sad and sick children he had seen in a hospital. “A light turned on in my head and my heart,” she remembers. “A clown is what I had always been, anyway. I had always loved to make people laugh.”
The world of Kathy the Clown is magical—full of fun and love. It is a world in which she makes instant friends. She started simply, with a dyed mop head and an altered clown costume her daughter had.
After lots of reading and research, Kathy learned to make up her face, juggle, and perform an extensive variety of tricks that enchant children of all ages.
“I involve the children in all I do,” insists Kathy. “I don’t perform to them; I get them to do it all with me. They love to be a part of everything. ‘Do you eat worms?’ I like to ask them. And when they tell me no, I pull out a candy gummy worm, and they shout, ‘I eat worms!’” Laughter is great medicine.
Kathy the Clown gives out stickers, kazoos, and clown noses. She gives out balloons and lets the older children pump up their own, using an inexpensive hand pump with the end of the hose removed. “I always tell them what good pumpers they are,” she says. “I think they love to pump as much as they love getting a balloon.”
With the limited time Sister Summers has to give in the hospital—usually three hours a day, one or two days a week—she has learned one very important lesson: “I never hurry my visit with a child. Consequently, I only get to a few children each time.”
One-on-one time with a clown is magic, the hospital staff tell her, as do parents who have come to appreciate Kathy’s presence there. At times, the hospital staff will call her when a child is especially “down.” Then Kathy Summers brings her colorful Kathy the Clown self and her bag of tricks and gimmicks to cheer the child up. But the real magic she brings to these children is her love.
In the Lord’s Time
“I’ve felt the hand of the Lord guiding me throughout my life,” says Joseph Sokia of Suva, Fiji, flashing his trademark broad grin.
That guidance began with his conversion to the gospel in the early 1950s, when his uncle brought home a discarded library book, What of the Mormons? Since Joseph’s family valued education but had little money to buy books, they used it as a reading text.
When Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Fiji in 1954, the Sokias were prepared and welcomed them with open arms. They were the second family to be baptized in the country. Joseph was serving as president of the Suva Branch by age twenty-one, later serving as district president and as a counselor in the mission presidency.
In 1974, after working for a bank for several years, Brother Sokia became director of seminaries and institutes for Fiji, and later he worked as division coordinator for the Pacific Area. Because of his banking contacts, he was instrumental in locating and negotiating the purchase of land when the Church built a high school in Fiji.
After only four years in this position, Brother Sokia felt prompted to further his education. At first he doubted: he had a good job and a young family to provide for. Yet he and his wife followed the Spirit. They sold their home and moved to Hawaii, where he enrolled at Brigham Young University—Hawaii. Soon, Brother Sokia was called to help translate the temple ordinances into Fijian. “It struck me that this was the reason I had come,” he says. “And I realized that my work in the Church Educational System had prepared me for this responsibility.”
After graduation, he felt led again, this time to a graduate program at the University of Utah. Why Utah? Brother Sokia wondered. It’s too cold there! But when he was asked to help voice the temple ordinances in Fijian, he said, “I realized this was why I had come.”
Soon after, funds for graduate school ran out and the family returned to Fiji, where he is now bishop of the Tamavua Ward and works as business manager for Fiji LDS Technical College. “I know this is where the Lord wants me to be,” he says. “Now I have to stay worthy so that I will be ready when he needs me to fulfill another part of my mission.”—, Kirchberg, Switzerland
“I Am All Changed”
Mary Guluzian immigrated to New York City from her native Armenia to continue her nursing studies. After her arrival, she faced a series of personal tragedies, including the deaths of her husband and brother. These challenges left Mary in deep depression.
For four months she didn’t even want to cook. “I was in a very bad condition,” said Mary. “My kitchen was completely empty.”
But one day in 1987, after finishing her day’s work as a nurse, Mary began to walk home. “I was very, very depressed,” Mary said. “I was just walking like a lost lady. I didn’t want to wear colors—just black, only black. Like dead, I was.”
On her walk, she saw two young men next to a display with a picture of Jesus. Mary went directly to the picture and one of the missionaries said, “You look very tired. Can I help you? What’s your name?”
“I said, ‘I’m Mary. I want to know where these dead people are going. I am really confused. And why me, why me?’
“So that cute kid said, ‘Mary, we will help you.’
“I said, ‘I want to know about life after death.’”
So the elders began to teach Mary about the gospel of Jesus Christ. They taught her to have faith, says Mary, now a member of the Manhattan First Ward.
With the help of the gospel, Mary has learned to laugh again. “My life is excellent. I am all changed. I love my elders. They love me, too. It is like my family with them.”—, Chile Santiago North Mission