“My Place Is at Church”

Polly Wineera Tarawhiti is a Maori Church member who has long been an example of gospel pioneering in Takupuwahia, a Maori community near New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.

Though she passed through the hard times of the Great Depression and World War II, Polly has always been active in the gospel. “My mother, Paeroa, had a strong view on what was right and wrong,” she recalls. “She had good values, and this was instilled in us children by her example. My dad was quiet, but he was a strong-willed man. He grew to love the scriptures, and later in his life he became a branch president.”

Among the many missionaries she remembers in Takupuwahia during her youth was Elder Matthew Cowley, who later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

A widow, Sister Tarawhiti has served in many capacities in the Church, including as a full-time missionary in Quezon City, Philippines, from 1987 to 1989. At 76 years of age, she spends much time and energy working on family history and serving as Relief Society president in the Wellington New Zealand Stake. Before retiring, she worked for the New Zealand government.

“My place is at church,” Sister Tarawhiti says. “I am proud of my Maori side, but I have chosen the Church above everything else. Also, the rewards and blessings that the Lord gives us far outweigh the fleeting things of the world.”Michele Parata Hamblin, Phoenix, Arizona

Nursery Grandpa

In October 1989 William (Tommy) Howell and his wife, Marguerite, were called as nursery workers in the Chesterfield Ward, St. Louis Missouri Stake. Sister Howell was released a year later because of health reasons, but at age 82 Brother Howell is still among those serving in the nursery.

“Brother Howell asked me to please let him stay with the children,” recalls former Primary president Diana Carter. “He has always been such a stabilizing force to our children. I have loved to see how he focuses on the sad or quiet child and helps that child feel comfortable and loved. I imagine he’s probably put together the same puzzles a million times!”

Children in the ward continually demonstrate their appreciation of Brother Howell’s love and attention. “Our three-year-old, Laura, takes great delight in shouting, ‘There’s my friend!’ as she points to Brother Howell,” says Susan Matthews.

Asked what he loves most about the nursery, Brother Howell says: “It’s the response of the children. When they look in your eyes and you can see that they trust you, that’s worth an awful lot. I love them so much. You can’t fool a child with fake love.”

Brother Howell has said he feels he can do more good serving in the nursery than almost anywhere else. Nevertheless, he and his wife perform another important service each month when they drive six hours to Chicago to do temple work for three days.Jeanette Mahaffey, Chesterfield, Missouri

Returning to the Temple

“In the temple you get the feeling that you are close to Heavenly Father,” says Cardinal Malimela of Durban, South Africa. “We go back often to keep up and remember.”

He and his wife, Teressa, were baptized in June 1991, and their two sons, Bright and Knowledge, are growing up in the gospel. The son of an Anglican priest, Brother Malimela serves as president of the Umlazi Branch, Durban South Africa Stake, and supervises the stake’s Church Educational System programs. Teressa serves as a counselor in the Durban stake Young Women presidency.

An insurance broker, Brother Malimela sometimes has the opportunity to talk with people about gospel principles and offer them Church literature. “Most people are looking for initial coverage while they are still on this earth,” he says. “What is more important is the everlasting policy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Since his baptism, he has kept a daily journal to record his progress and blessings. In June 1992 the family was sealed in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, and every three months he and his wife make the six-hour drive to return to the temple. They often invite other members who may be struggling financially to accompany them on temple trips.

“However far away the temple is,” Brother Malimela says, “if you set a goal and have faith, our Heavenly Father will help you.”

He identifies two important reasons for the Church’s growth in Africa: the work for redemption of the dead and the strong family emphasis. “In our culture our ancestors and families are very important to us, so we get a very positive response to gospel teachings,” he says.Allison Bundy, Bismarck, North Dakota

“She Lifts You”

“I understood the frustration of not being able to do all the things other children are able to do,” says Nancy Erb about her years of teaching children with disabilities in hospitals and schools. Sister Erb suffers from a rare disease that prevents her body from properly metabolizing calcium, resulting in brittle bones that are easily broken.

She grew up and still lives in a little town called Hollidaysburg tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania. By the time she was a young woman, Sister Erb had broken bones so many times that she had to continually walk on crutches. But the limitations caused by her disabilities didn’t stop her from leaving the immediate support of her family and moving away for a time to attend college and fill teaching positions in New York and Florida.

One cold Pennsylvania day in 1971 before she joined the Church, missionaries knocked on Sister Erb’s door. She invited them in to warm themselves with a cup of coffee. They didn’t accept the hot drink, of course, but she accepted their invitation to hear the message of the restored gospel, which in time she accepted. Years after she joined, her brother Bill was baptized. The two siblings shared a home until Bill passed away in 1995 due to complications from the same disease his sister has. Sister Erb’s nephew, Bruce Erb, serves as a counselor in the Altoona Ward bishopric.

Sister Erb is now confined to a wheelchair. She serves as visiting teaching supervisor in the Altoona Ward, and periodically she is asked to teach Young Women classes in her home. Each week a group of sisters from the ward meets in her home. One ward member described the experience of visiting her: “You go to lift her, but she lifts you.” She enjoys the company of a white cat named Cricket, and she reads, watches uplifting television shows, and follows the Penn State football team.Ted R. and Carol W. Schofield, Salt Lake City, Utah

In the Spotlight

  • Second baseman Jennifer Dalton of Glendale, California, was elected to the GTE Academic All-America Softball Team. Last year Jennifer hit a home run in the NCAA title game in which her University of Arizona team won the national championship, and she was named Most Valuable Player of the College World Series. After last year’s season she was the NCAA career leader in RBIs (328), runs (293), walks (178), and slugging percentage (.815) and second in career home runs (78).

  • A member of Western Samoa’s parliament since 1988, Hans J. Keil has been appointed the nation’s Minister of Transport, Civil Aviation, and Shipping. Brother Keil belongs to the Pesega 5th Ward, Pesega Samoa Stake.

  • In recognition of her contributions in the food service industry, Ruby P. Puckett was awarded the American Dietetic Association’s Medallion Award. Sister Puckett has developed a widely used training course for dietary managers, authored or coauthored 10 books and 250 articles, and spoken more than 400 times at meetings and workshops worldwide. A teacher training coordinator and Relief Society teacher in the Gainesville 2nd Ward, Gainesville Florida Stake, she is president of a food service consultancy.

  • Two Latter-day Saint assistant U.S. attorneys for Idaho, Monte J. Stiles and Anthony G. Hall, were honored by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in Washington, D.C., for their seven-year investigation of international drug smugglers and money launderers. Brother Stiles is a member of the Riva Ridge Ward, Meridian Idaho South Stake, and Brother Hall is a member of the Boise 19th Ward, Boise Idaho North Stake.