Newsmaker: Golden Service

Fifty years ago, Jeane Henny Kirschbaum was a messenger for the underground armed forces during World War II. Although the job was dangerous, Sister Kirschbaum knew that service was one of the things that makes life worth living.

Recently, Sister Kirschbaum was presented with the royal golden medal of honor of the knighthood of Oranje Nassau for half a century of service in the communities of Heemstede and Haarlem in the Netherlands. During the ceremony in the town hall, the burgomaster of Heemstede (a suburb of Haarlem) noted a long list of activities that have kept Sister Kirschbaum busy since her days as an underground messenger. Those activities include volunteer work for the Red Cross, Rheuma Foundation, old-age care, Unmarried Mothers, and other organized charities or local causes.

However, much of the ceremony focused on Sister Kirschbaum’s twenty-five years as organizer of a twice-monthly cultural afternoon for retired individuals. “You cannot stop this lady,” the burgomaster observed. “When we had to terminate the subsidy for her cultural afternoons for old people, she continued them on a private scale and found a sponsor. Since twenty-four years ago, she has continuously organized these cultural presentations every two weeks.”

And Sister Kirschbaum does more for elderly people than organizing activities for them. She loves the elderly and counts most of them among her friends. She asks about their families, their illnesses, their troubles, and their dreams. She gives each person a heartwarming greeting as they attend each cultural afternoon.

One regular afternoon participant refused to undergo surgery until Sister Kirschbaum returned from out of town. “My guardian angel is on holiday,” the 93-year-old said. After Sister Kirschbaum came home, the elderly lady consented to the operation.

In addition, Sister Kirschbaum is a member of the board of “Haarlem Is Helping Poland.” She is very active in getting all kinds of medical equipment from the surplus stock of the hospitals in Haarlem. With her husband, Christiaan Robert, she has traveled to Poland several times to distribute the donated items.

Although Sister Kirschbaum, a member of the Haarlem Ward of The Hague Netherlands Stake, is seventy-three years of age, she still works long hours each day. In addition to her service projects, she spends much of her energy on her family, which includes three children (one of whom died as an infant) and seven grandchildren. She also works tirelessly in the Church and has served in the Relief Society, in the Sunday School, and as a public affairs representative. She was her husband’s great support during the seventeen years he was branch president in Haarlem.C. R. Kirschbaum, Haarlem, Netherlands

“I’ve Been Waiting for You”

When the missionaries knocked on Radmila Ranovic’s door, she greeted them with the phrase every missionary loves to hear: “Hello. I’ve been waiting for you.”

In Radmila’s case, a pen pal in New Zealand had told her she had some friends who would like to visit Radmila. Born in Yugoslavia but studying in Switzerland, Radmila welcomed the chance to meet some new people. However, when she realized the young men had never been to New Zealand and were therefore not personal friends of her pen pal, she told them she had no interest in their message. Before they left, however, they convinced her to come to a presentation at the local branch on the Book of Mormon.

When Radmila walked into the small chapel in the basement of an apartment building, the first thing she noticed was a sign that read, “The Glory of God Is Intelligence.”

“I was immediately impressed and moved,” she remembers. Radmila loved to learn. The presentation, which focused on the fact that she could learn for herself whether or not what she was hearing was true, also impressed the young student. She accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon, took it home, and put it on the shelf.

A few months later during the Christmas season, Radmila began to hear more about Christ. She wanted to know more about his life, and she remembered the Book of Mormon. She pulled it out, but the words were unfamiliar, and she didn’t understand much of what she read.

So she called the missionaries, and once again the elders knocking on her door were greeted with “Hello. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Although she still didn’t want to hear the missionary discussions, she agreed to study with the elders. Every week she would read ten chapters, write down her thoughts and questions, and then discuss them with the missionaries.

She eventually listened to the discussions, accepted the gospel, and was baptized on 22 February 1975 in Zurich, Switzerland. She later moved back to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where the Church was just being organized. In 1981, she served a mission to Montreal, Canada; she was the first missionary to be called from Yugoslavia. Now she is finishing a graduate degree in physical therapy from Brigham Young University and also helps translate Church materials into Serbo-Croatian.Kenneth S. Rogerson, Columbia, South Carolina

Thrift Store Treasure

About sixteen years ago, Willie Bob Leary was browsing through a secondhand store when a worn “religious-looking book” caught his eye. An avid reader and familiar with the Bible, he bought the book and took it home.

“That was the first time I came in contact with the Book of Mormon and the first time I ever heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the 63-year-old recalls. “When I began to read 3 Nephi, that was it! I knew that it was the truth.”

At that time in his life, Brother Leary was seeking desperately for the truth. Although he had never officially joined a church, he had always felt a closeness to God. The thrift store copy of the Book of Mormon had the name of the Church inside the cover, so Brother Leary looked up the Church in the telephone directory and wrote, asking for a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants.

“The very first verse that I read convinced me that these were the true words of Jesus Christ. It was just that quick!” he declares. He even began putting aside his tithing to pay after baptism.

Shortly after receiving the scriptures, Brother Leary returned to Macon, Georgia, where he had grown up. He found the missionaries and was baptized. He lives near many of his relatives and shares his testimony with them frequently.Val Wilcox, Provo, Utah

[photo] Photo by Val Wilcox

In the Spotlight

  • Recognized as one of the top memorial designers in the U.S., Jeffrey L. Anderson, bishop of the Austin Ward, Rochester Minnesota Stake, has been named president of the Monument Builders of North America.

  • A Latter-day Saint has been inducted into the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame. Dennis C. Manning, second counselor in the Myton Second Ward, Roosevelt Utah Stake, was the world champion horseshoer at the 1985 Calgary Stampede.

  • In Syracuse, Italy, Giovanna Marino has been elected vice president of the Syracuse Women’s Town Council. A member of the Syracuse Branch, Sister Marino is a journalist and historian.

  • J. Wesley McKnight, a Scoutmaster in the Heritage Ward, Salt Lake Granger South Stake, has been elected international president of Delta Nu Alpha Transportation Education Association, the largest organization of its kind.

  • Shen Hua “Sheena” Song, a junior at BYU—Hawaii and member of the BYU—Hawaii Eighth Ward, BYU—Hawaii First Stake, won the Best of Balance award for volleyball from the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics. The award is presented annually to an individual who exhibits excellence in academics as well as athletics.

  • The National Library of Poetry presented an Editor’s Chair Award to Elsie J. Staska, a member of the Fishers Landing Ward, Vancouver Washington Stake.