Blooming Where Planted
After living in Winchester, Indiana, for ten years, Eunice Addington discovered quite by accident that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had lived there as early as 1831. Curious as to how residents of this small town in Indiana could have known about the Church so soon after its restoration, she began researching the deeds in the county courthouse. Soon she discovered that the missionaries and even the Prophet Joseph Smith had visited Winchester during these early years and that Winchester had been the site of the largest branch of the Church in Indiana in 1831. Through her persistent and tireless efforts, she has identified nearly half of the one hundred members of the Winchester Branch. (See Ensign, Oct. 1992, pp. 56–59.)
“These people are so real to me,” says Eunice, who has found the property deeds of early Latter-day Saints, visited their lands and the cemeteries, and tried to locate their descendants. “I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about the early history of Winchester and its place in Church history. I love these people.”
A popular local speaker to groups of all ages, Eunice loves to tell the stories of these early pioneers. She often dresses up in pioneer dress and brings along artifacts.
“Most of these early members left Winchester in the fall of 1831 and the spring of 1832 and joined the Saints in Missouri,” says Eunice. “Many people don’t even know their ancestors lived here. Some are mentioned in Church history—George Burkett, Samuel Lee, Oliver Walker, Jeremiah Lindsay, William Lindsay, John Jones, James Stapleton Lewis, and Henry Jackson. Most, however, have faded into obscurity. That’s why I hope to find some new sources such as journals.”
Born and raised in nearby Muncie, Indiana, Eunice joined the Church as a young woman. She didn’t know it at the time, but her grandmother was one of the first members of the Church in Muncie but had fallen into inactivity. Because of this, when the missionaries found Eunice and her mother, neither one knew much about the gospel. They gained a testimony of the gospel quickly. Eunice’s mother died suddenly before she could be baptized, but Eunice was baptized and has remained faithful her entire life. She is currently a member of the Greenville Branch in the Dayton Ohio Stake.
When Eunice is not doing research, she is busy making beautiful dolls in elaborate dresses. A registered doll maker, Eunice has created more than four hundred dolls based on the turn-of-the-century prototypes for people all over the United States. She and her husband, Murrie, also keep busy with their grandchildren.
Though Eunice lives in the rural countryside outside the small town of Winchester, Indiana, she has magnified her talents in historical research and doll making to the benefit of people throughout the United States.
Earthly Care and Heavenly Love
“I’ve always loved the elderly,” says Trudy Bunderson, age thirty, of the Adams Park Ward, Logan Utah Central Stake. “They have so much to teach us, with their full lives and their hearts of gold.”
Trudy’s are not idle, idealistic words. She has worked as an aide in the Logan Valley Nursing Home for the past three years, and she also works nights at Sunshine Terrace, another home for the elderly.
Her parents, Nedra Jean and the late Ross Bunderson, inspired Trudy’s desire to care for older people. “My parents have always thought of others, and they set a wonderful example for me as I grew up,” says Trudy.
Trudy further serves people by going to the temple. When she received her own endowments in June 1986, she set goals to do a certain amount of temple work.
She attends the temple weekly and has done a variety of ordinance work there in the past seven years. Since committing herself to do so, Trudy has participated in more than 7,315 name extractions, 244 endowments, 16,400 baptisms, 683 sealings, and 1,341 initiatory ordinances for the dead.
“During the years of regular temple attendance,” Trudy says, “I have had very distinct confirmations of how anxiously those who’ve departed await the performance of these earthly ordinances. It is a continuous joy to do this sacred work.”
Feeling a Certain Power
In 1977–78, Brad Chidester was the Utah State Muscular Dystrophy poster child. Even then, his artistic abilities were obvious. “I spent my time drawing when other kids were out playing and doing sports,” says Brad. “I’ve always loved to draw.”
As a high school student at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah, Brad was an honor student; during his senior year, he earned the locally prestigious Sterling Scholar award in visual arts. Later, he attended Salt Lake Community College and studied graphic arts. But soon the demand for his watercolors and subsequent sales allowed him to paint full time.
Confined to a wheelchair since he was a toddler, Brad says, “Through my art I can express my feelings. When I am working on a piece, I feel a certain power that I am not able to experience in any other way because of my physical limitations. I can reproduce nature as I see it and can even make changes in nature if I want to.”
He has won numerous awards and often displays his work. Each year he donates paintings to the Muscular Dystrophy Association to be auctioned, with the money used in the fight against muscular dystrophy. Though his physical muscles are weak, Brad Chidester wields real power as he uses his artistic “muscles.”
Gold Mine of Love
How lucky can we be?” Clayton Collins, eighty-seven, frequently asks this rhetorical question. He and his wife, Thelma, eighty-three, live in Nevada City, California, an old mining town spread over the pine-covered foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode country. Clayton worked as a gold miner all of his life, but in 1987 he and Thelma found something more valuable than gold—the gospel.
A casual visitor to their mobile home might at first be surprised that the Collinses consider themselves so lucky. Clayton, who has arthritis and wears hearing aids, is the care-giver for Thelma. For the last eight years, Thelma has seldom left her bed. Osteoporosis necessitated a hip replacement in 1983. Then in 1985, she fell and broke several bones. Concern for the probability of future breaks, combined with fibrosis of the lungs and a series of heart attacks, preclude an active life for her. Yet despite these challenges, Clayton and Thelma are happy beyond their wildest dreams. This is a home where visitors of all ages come, not just to cheer up the Collinses but to be cheered themselves.
The Collinses’ formal introduction to the gospel occurred about four years ago, when Jesse and Zelma Johnson, Latter-day Saint friends of the Collinses for more than fifty years, called from San Francisco to ask how Clayton and Thelma were doing. The Johnsons had talked to the Collinses about the Church over the years, but the time for the Collinses to hear the gospel message never seemed quite right. But when they told the Johnsons there was a Mormon church just across the freeway, the Johnsons knew that now was the right time.
The next morning, Elders Herman and Peterson visited the Collinses. From the beginning, Clayton and Thelma thrilled to the discussions, studied the scriptures, and kept their commitments. In a few weeks, they were ready for baptism. Thelma will never forget that day: 27 October 1987. Seated in a chair, she was carried down the steps into the font. When it was time for her to be immersed, the missionaries lowered her and the chair sufficiently to cover her with water and then lifted her and the chair back up. She remembers the feeling of elation and tears. She said, “I lit up like a light!” Clayton, too, was overcome and said, “Honey, why haven’t we done this sooner?”
They are now members of the Nevada City Ward of the Auburn California Stake. Since that time, they have received constant attention and love. Meals and homemade bread arrive regularly. Since Thelma can’t attend Church services, they listen to sacrament meetings via a telephone system installed by John Hight, their bishop at the time. Occasionally, Clayton and Thelma tape their own testimonies to play for the congregation at testimony meeting. Clayton has been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and Thelma serves as a visiting teacher, but the sisters she “visits” come to her. Every week the Relief Society tapes their lesson for Sister Collins. And the stake patriarch made arrangements to give them their patriarchal blessings at home.
Members of the Aaronic Priesthood bring the sacrament to them, and Clayton assists in administering the ordinance. This act of service on the part of the young men results in blessings on both sides. Some of them are now away at college or on missions, and they continue to keep in touch through letters, which Thelma treasures and keeps in albums. They are “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to a host of teenagers who love to “hang out” at their home.
When the Collinses yearned to go to the temple in 1989, friends made preparations to make it possible. They picked them up in a comfortable RV, so Thelma could lie down. Several friends accompanied Clayton and Thelma as they received their endowments, and the Collinses felt an outpouring of love they had never known before.
Clayton and Thelma never cease to show their appreciation for the gospel and their friends. They know their blessings exceed the luck of striking gold, and those who visit the Collinses and delight in their company might well say themselves, “How lucky can we be?”—, Grass Valley, California