Newsmaker: View from the Shuttle

Not many people have seen the world from quite the same perspective that Richard Searfoss has. Yet Brother Searfoss, pilot of the space shuttle Columbia, notes that “while seeing the earth from orbit reinforced what I already believed, it didn’t add anything to it. There’s no need for people to go into space to gain a testimony.”

Brother Searfoss continues, “There are no words to describe the beauty of the planet and the harmony of this place that was created for us. While we were very busy in orbit, I would snatch moments and just gaze out of the window and gather it all in emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The whole mission was professionally rewarding and spiritually humbling.”

Brother Searfoss, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, joined six others on the fourteen-day life science research mission, the longest shuttle orbit to date. As pilot, he was one of the primary crew members during the shuttle’s ascent and entry. While in space, he participated in numerous experiments, both as observer and subject. His duties also included earth observation (he took nearly five thousand photographs), engineering tests, and navigational exercises.

Crew members worked sixteen-hour days and had little free time. However, Brother Searfoss fit a few gravity-free somersaults into his evening schedule along with a regular exercise routine assigned by doctors. He also managed to spend a few minutes every day reading scriptures, usually after eating breakfast. “We were allowed to carry a few personal items,” Brother Searfoss explains. “Most of us carried pictures; I hung the picture of my wife, Julie, and my daughters, Megan and Elizabeth, over my mid-deck locker. I also had a few of my favorite scriptures printed on cards and took them up with me, too.

“There were reverent moments up there,” he continues, “moments when my spirit was open to more important things than just day-to-day concerns.”

When Brother Searfoss returned to earth 1 November 1993, he returned with a greater appreciation for the gospel and the plan of salvation. Recently called as counselor in his ward’s Young Men presidency, he’s been able to share that appreciation with the youth in the League City Ward, Friendswood Texas Stake. He notes that his appreciation for his family deepened as well. Brother Searfoss is already anticipating his future assignments. “I’m a career astronaut,” he notes. “I’m looking forward to being up there again.”

Built on a Rock

The picket fence and the rose bushes outside the house in Fairfield, Melbourne, Australia, differ little from those on the rest of the street, but the family living inside is anything but typical.

Greg Kidd is a quadriplegic. With the aid of a motorized wheelchair, he works as a liaison officer for the Australian Quadriplegic Association, helping others with spinal cord injuries come to terms with their disabilities. He is also a consultant to the Public Transport Corporation and a freelance editor.

At age fourteen, Greg injured his spinal cord when he dived into a river, hitting a sandbar and breaking his neck. It took many months for him to learn to become as self-sufficient as he is today. He taught himself to write using a pen threaded through his fingers, and he pecks away at a computer keyboard.

“Until the gospel came into my life, I was just drifting,” Greg remembers. A friend encouraged him to meet the missionaries, and he agreed to listen. “But I was not ready to be baptized, or at least I didn’t think I was.”

Greg sent the missionaries away before they gave the last discussion. “After they left, I lay on my bed, my mind in turmoil,” he recalls. “I turned to the scriptures and read 3 Nephi 24–27, which admonishes us to build on a rock foundation. I realized that my life was really on a sandy foundation. Once I acknowledged that, a feeling of peace swept over me, and I could finally sleep.” The next morning he contacted the elders and made arrangements for his baptism.

Now Greg is high priests group leader in the Fairfield Ward, and he attends church regularly with his wife, Jennifer, and nine-year-old daughter, Moana. He and Jennifer were sealed in the temple thirteen years ago.

Enduring Youth

In her eighty-ninth year, Reva Tennant Jensen, then of the Santa Maria Fourth Ward, Santa Maria California Stake, accepted a call to serve as second counselor in her ward’s Young Women organization.

“I’ve never declined a call,” says Reva who now is a member of the Edgemont Fourteenth Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont Stake.

Sister Jensen lived in Santa Maria for thirty years. She and her late husband, Adrian, were well known for their community and Church service. “Adrian always said, ‘If you are in the service of the community, you are in the service of the Lord,’” says Sister Jensen.

A dedicated volunteer, Reva Jensen founded the Visiting Nurses’ Association in Santa Maria. For twenty-four years, she served the northern Santa Barbara community as a visiting nurse in homes and hospitals. When the community honored her at her retirement from the organization in 1989, she told the audience, “Whatever I’ve bought in my life, I have for a time; whatever I gave to charity, I have for keeps.”—Anna Lou Nye, Provo, Utah

Soup Service

More than four years ago, our family moved to Naramata, a little village in the Penticton, British Columbia, area. My elderly mother lived with us initially. A devout Anglican, Mother quickly became involved in her church, including volunteering at the local soup kitchen once a week. The kitchen is a local operation run by a consortium of local churches, with each one taking responsibility for a particular day. One day, my mother returned home and reported that the soup kitchen had a particularly difficult time finding help on Fridays.

My wife, Karin, recognized an opportunity when it presented itself. The next week she reported at the soup kitchen with four willing missionaries in tow, and a Friday tradition began. Every Friday for the last four years, Karin and the missionaries have run the Soupteria.

Karin’s Fridays begin early: by 7:30 A.M. she’s chopping and dicing. By the time the missionaries and Sister Val Hansen, another faithful helper, arrive, it’s time to put on a boiler of soup. By eleven o’clock, the soup is hot, the sandwiches are ready, and the workers are ready to greet those milling outside—many of whom have become friends through the years of weekly contact.

An hour later, the kitchen is closed and the group starts the cleanup, leaving the place shipshape for Saturday’s crew. Karin has truly taught me, along with many others, the meaning of service as she unselfishly and willingly devotes her Fridays to serving others.—Mike McCarty, Penticton Ward, Vernon British Columbia Stake

In the Spotlight

  • Ramona Bigger, counselor in the Scranton Pennsylvania Stake Relief Society presidency, was recently honored as National Volunteer of the Year by Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc.

  • Kiri Gulko of the Kiev Left-Bank Branch in Kiev, Ukraine, was among fifteen Ukranian students selected to participate in the Presidential Classroom Program held recently in Washington, D.C.

  • Richard W. Owens of the Edgemont Ninth Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont North Stake, received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation for more than thirty-five years of service.

  • John S. Tanner, an associate academic vice president at Brigham Young University, has been honored with the James Holly Hanford Award for the most distinguished book on John Milton published in 1992. Tanner, a member of the Edgemont Twentieth Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont Stake, wrote Anxiety in Eden.