Making a Joyful Sound

Jack Bowers takes quite seriously the counsel to praise the Lord with singing and music (see D&C 136:28). Every Sunday evening, Brother Bowers leads a sing-along hymn session for ten to fifteen of his fellow residents at the Pioneer Home senior center in Palmer, Alaska.

As a result of the sing-alongs, men and women of many faiths have come to know the words and tunes of some Latter-day Saint hymns. Members from nearby wards take turns playing the piano for the weekly sessions. The seniors seem to particularly enjoy the young children and babies who accompany these visiting families.

Brother Bowers thoughtfully selects a list of hymns each Sunday. About a half hour before the sing-along begins, he loads his wheelchair with hymn books and brings them out into the common area. He then helps the staff arrange the furniture and bring in any residents who want to participate. He keeps a tape player and a cassette of hymn accompaniments on hand in case no piano player is available.

The groups sing all the verses of the selected hymns, and often Brother Bowers pauses between hymns to read the scriptures noted at the end of each hymn. The last song is always “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, 1985, no. 152). Brother Bowers closes the sing-alongs with expressions of love for the participants and with prayer.

Though he struggles with his own health problems, Brother Bowers enjoys inspiring others with the hymn sing-alongs. He is a member of the Palmer First Ward, Wasilla Alaska Stake.Roselyn Sant, Wasilla, Alaska

She Gives and Gives

At age seventeen, Jeanne Lewis was roughhousing with a group of friends when she suddenly felt the brunt of too much weight on her back. A numbing shock passed through her bones and ligaments, and she cried out, “I’ve broken my neck, and I’m paralyzed!”

Doctors told Jeanne’s parents that she would never again move below her shoulders, but Jeanne did not lose hope. During her time in the hospital, she underwent a regimen that included attaching fifty-pound weights to her shaven head and rotating her body on a frame every two hours. One doctor wanted to brace her wrist, but Jeanne’s friends kept regularly manipulating it until the wrist gained some movement. Hospital personnel tried to issue her an electric wheelchair, but Jeanne refused because she wanted to keep her muscles toned by using a manual chair. “I’d rather have the hurdles,” she said. Instead of accepting home tutoring, Jeanne went back to high school as soon as she could.

At first, members of Jeanne’s ward and volunteers from neighboring wards visited her three times a day to help her exercise. More than twenty-five years after Jeanne’s injury, members still assist her five times a week with exercises that range from wheeling her chair for two miles and standing for half an hour in a special frame to swimming in her backyard pool.

Today, Jeanne is employed full-time helping people solve computer problems over the telephone. She regularly attends the temple, and she currently serves as a counselor in her ward’s Young Women presidency. Her past activities have included coaching Young Women volleyball and basketball and teaching Primary. She has also tutored children and teenagers, earned a real estate license, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California’s San Jose State University.

“I just don’t know what I would have done without the support I’ve received,” Jeanne says. “I take and take and take. So many people do so many things for me.”

“But Jeanne also gives and gives and gives,” replies her mother, Beverly, with whom Jeanne lives in the Robertsville Ward, San Jose California South Stake.Margaret Woods, Walsall, England

[photo] Photo by Margaret Woods

An Eternal Family Exhibit

Dutch painter and wood sculptor Johannes Mollemans designed, constructed, and painted a large exhibit that the Church has been showing at trade fairs and shows throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A banner across the display reads, “Starke familien halten die welt zusammen,” which translates as “Strong families hold the world together.”

“Through my art,” Brother Mollemans says, “I hope to show exhibit visitors that joy can begin here on earth and continue in heaven. We can consciously elect to live happily forever as a family.”

Centered around a figure that represents the Savior, the exhibit depicts several scenes of family life. Brother Mollemans first created a miniature model of the exhibit and then made full-size patterns, which he traced onto construction board and cut out, sanded, and painted white. These simple, outlined figures appear against a blue and gold background. Several panels cover nearly all the rectangular exhibit’s wall space.

“If there is anything good about my work,” says Brother Mollemans, “it is because God has given me skill and inspiration. Whenever I paint, I feel very close to the Spirit.”

A former bishop in Holland, Johannes lives with his wife, Maria, in Friedrichsdorf, near Frankfurt, Germany.Paul and Shirlee Conners, Frankfurt, Germany

A Good Samaritan

During the commute one winter morning to her office in Atlanta, Georgia, Aloise McNichols noticed a disabled car blocking two lanes of traffic on the interstate. She could see the driver slumped over inside his vehicle. “I knew he was in trouble,” she says. No one had yet stopped to help the man.

Aloise parked her car and ran across two lanes of busy freeway traffic to the man’s car, which had apparently struck a retaining wall. “Sometimes you just know what is right and do it without further thought,” she says. When she found that the driver was unconscious and showing symptoms of shock, she wrapped him in her coat and ran back across traffic to call an ambulance from her car phone. She then returned to the victim and found his identification, which indicated that he was a diabetic. She was able to reach his employer on her phone, who in turn notified the man’s wife.

When an ambulance passed nearby, Aloise flagged it down. With the help of another motorist who had stopped after she did, Aloise pushed the disabled car out of the traffic flow and changed its flat tire. She then drove the car to the hospital so that it wouldn’t be left on the roadside with what appeared to be valuable computer equipment inside. After she was briefed on the man’s condition, she got a ride back to her own car and made it to her ten o’clock meeting only a little late.

Medical personnel confirmed that the man had been in serious danger and that Aloise’s quick response probably saved his life. “I felt really exhilarated and humbled at the same time,” she says of the experience. “I honestly feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to help someone to that degree.”

A member of the Commerce Branch, Sugar Hill Georgia Stake, Aloise works as a human resources district manager at a large corporation, which recognized her with an employee award for risking personal injury to save someone’s life.

In the Spotlight

  • Robert W. Layton of the Edmonton Eighth Ward, Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake, received the Sam Ross Award for editorials from the Radio and Television News Directors Association of Canada. Brother Layton is the news director of radio station CHED. His winning editorial, which dealt with public-school sex education, was titled “One of Us Abstained.”

  • David Harkness of the Dumfries Ward, Edinburgh Scotland Stake, was awarded the Royal Humane Society lifesaving award for rescuing a hospital patient who had jumped into the River Nith.

  • Author and poet César Guerra of Montevideo, Uruguay, received a national literary prize sponsored in part by the Uruguay Ministry of Culture and Education. He was described in a newspaper article as a man of “exquisite sensibilities.” A longtime translator for the Church, Brother Guerra serves as a patriarch.

  • Ruby P. Puckett of the Gainesville Second Ward, Gainesville Florida Stake, received an award for excellence in management from the American Dietetic Association. Sister Puckett directs food and nutrition services at the Shands Hospital at the University of Florida. The award recognizes her innovation, creativity, management leadership, and professional experience and education.