Being Themselves

Calvin Brooks was recovering from two major operations and his wife, Susie, was in the hospital with a severe leg fracture when their bishop approached them and invited them to serve a mission.

“I promise you that the Lord will bless you and you will succeed according to your faith,” he said, when the couple agreed to accept the call. The couple took the bishop at his word and proceeded to strengthen and exercise their faith during the next several years as they served two missions, both among Native Americans in Arizona and New Mexico.

Although the Brookses were nervous about serving a mission, they soon discovered that all they needed to do was be themselves. Calvin soon built a reputation for being able to get the most serious Native American to laugh, and Susie found that her southern cooking vanished the quickest at the monthly potluck dinner. The couple had one of only three phones in the area and drove as far as thirty miles just to deliver messages. The two formed many friendships that continued even after they returned home to the Hopewell Ward, Richmond Virginia Chesterfield Stake.

The couple also gained a testimony of missionary work. After returning home, they were called as stake missionaries. Brother Brooks started home teaching a member at the federal prison in Prince George, Virginia, and soon he was teaching the missionary discussions to a number of interested individuals. Although inmates cannot be baptized, more than twenty joined the Church after being released.

In addition, Brother and Sister Brooks volunteer two days each week at a local hospital, they make more than a dozen visits every month to those in their stake who are sick and bedridden, and they regularly present programs at schools, libraries, wards, and other places about their experiences working among the Native Americans.

The Brookses still struggle with sickness and various hospital stays. “We do have a lot of health problems,” Brother Brooks acknowledges, “but we don’t let that stop us.”Becky Robinette Wright, Richmond, Virginia

[photo] Photo by Maren Younce Mecham

Gift of History

Almost ten years ago, Jaris Taylor Elkins finished a history book for her family. A member of the Mesa Sixty-fifth Ward, Mesa Arizona Mountain View Stake, Sister Taylor wrote the 320-page hardcover book Charity Upton Powell Elkins—Six Generations for her four sons who wanted to know more about their father’s family heritage.

When Sister Elkins decided to share her own father’s pioneer heritage, she tackled another book. A Royal Family is 697 pages and covers seven generations and includes the story of her great-grandfather, one of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.

While the completion of both books is admirable, the feat is even more outstanding when one meets the author and finds that at age fifty-six, Jaris Elkins has lived with the debilitating effects of muscular dystrophy since she was thirteen years old. While she can’t get about without the help of others and can raise her arms only slightly, Sister Elkins patiently wrote her first book in longhand and typed her second book at the computer given her by her son Ronald.Clinton M. Taylor, Mesa, Arizona

Uplifted by Elaine

When you meet Elaine Brown of the Cascade Park Ward, Vancouver Washington Stake, the first impulse might be to feel sorry for her. After all, she’s been unable to move her arms and legs for more than ten years due to multiple sclerosis.

But Elaine’s cheery smile and genuine interest in every visitor make it clear that she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She never complains. Instead she focuses on how blessed she is to have such a supportive family—her husband, Mike, and two grown sons, Michael and Mark. Tears come to her eyes, and she gropes for words to describe her husband. Mike is God’s gift to her, she often says. He was prepared to take care of her and because of that, she knows Heavenly Father loves her.

Elaine asks little of the sisters from the ward who come in regularly to care for her during the day. Perhaps a glass of water, straightening an arm or leg, sometimes reading a book. Mostly, she focuses on each sister, eager to offer her love and support in each woman’s life. Visitors who leave the Brown home leave a little happier, a little more grateful, and better off for having Elaine as a friend.Marilyn Feik, Vancouver, Washington

Joy in Her Posterity

Margaret Jean Doughty of Birkenhead, England, has learned that living the gospel may not eliminate challenges, but it will increase our capacity to meet those challenges. This belief has enabled Jean Doughty to carry on as a single mother since her youngest son was two years old. That son is now married with children of his own, and Jean’s quiet example is being given to another generation.

“As the gospel teaches us, great joy comes through our posterity,” says Sister Doughty, mother of four and grandmother of nine. “I love my children and am proud of them all. I felt especially blessed when Paul was called to serve a mission in Scotland and when John received a call to serve in London. As a convert myself, I have known what a gift the gospel can be in a person’s life. Seeing my sons serve was both a blessing to me and part of our family’s returning thanks.”