Firm in the Faith

In 1992, when missionaries invited Tom Spivey of Tiffin, Iowa, to be baptized, more was at stake than commitment to a new faith. At age 35, Tom was—and continues to be today—one of the oldest surviving people with spinal-muscular atrophy (SMA) type II, a genetic disorder that results in loss of muscle function. He had never been immersed in water before, and if water entered his lungs, he would not have the strength to cough it out.

This was a time of serious prayer for Tom and the missionaries. In spite of objections from friends and relatives, he felt impressed that he should be baptized.

Because Tom could not be taken to the baptismal font at the meetinghouse, the missionaries improvised by filling up a toddler swimming pool in the Spiveys’ kitchen. He was lowered into the water up to his neck, the prayer was said, and, while Elder Brian Rowley covered Tom’s nose and mouth, his head was immersed. He was then quickly taken out of the water and dried off. Prayers were answered, and Tom was fine.

“I know the gospel is true,” says Tom. “I have a deep love for Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, and for my family for supporting me in my decision to be baptized.”

Although Tom has never been able to attend church, the sacrament is taken to him each Sunday, and he has been videotaped giving talks and sharing his testimony. He is a source of great inspiration to numerous friends. The missionaries especially love to visit him, and many continue to call or write him even after leaving his area. He has also corresponded via tapes and letters with disabled children and their parents.

Tom, a member of the Iowa City Second Ward, Cedar Rapids Iowa Stake, is an elders quorum district leader in charge of home teaching.Cammon Arrington, Coralville, Iowa

[photo] Tom Spivey with his father, Theodore.

Helping Others Grow

Dr. David Cobia, a professor of agricultural economics at North Dakota State University, is the recipient of the National Cooperative Education Award. The award was given in recognition for his efforts in helping farmers worldwide form cooperatives to purchase supplies and market their products.

“I get great satisfaction from seeing other people grow and develop,” says Brother Cobia about his work. “I’m able to see groups of individuals and companies do things together that they couldn’t do alone and still remain independent.”

Brother Cobia, who is director of the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives, has written a textbook, Cooperatives in Agriculture, that has been used in courses throughout the world. His book has become known as the definitive manual for cooperatives. He has been sought out by farmers and political leaders from Japan, Sweden, and numerous other countries, and during the summer of 1997 he traveled to Ukraine to help teach independent farmers, governmental officials, and representatives of collective farms how to form cooperatives.

Brother Cobia says, “The gospel has influenced many of the specific things I teach and practice. For example, there are several scriptures on resolving conflicts that I use in classes and seminars.”

He has completed his 20th year as patriarch of the Fargo North Dakota Stake.Lani Law, Fargo, North Dakota

She Means Business

The German state of Saxony recently selected Gerhild Sacher of Annaberg-Buchholz as Entrepreneur of the Year. In a short seven years she has developed an international jewelry case and display box business that has brought her recognition and benefitted her community.

When free enterprise was established in eastern Germany, Sister Sacher was in the right place at the right time with the right talents to begin her business. She started her company in 1991 by teaming up with a mentor-partner who had experience with free enterprise and by leasing equipment from the state-owned factory where she worked.

Sister Sacher had many personal resources to apply to the business. She studied economics and foreign trade at the Berlin School of Business in 1971–75 while working at a state-owned materials packing plant. By 1986 she had advanced to become the plant’s export manager for jewelry cases.

But she possessed more than just training and experience. She also had ambition and energy, a bright outlook on life, a willingness to work, and a supportive husband, Siegfried—successful in his own right as the manager of another company.

Within two years Sister Sacher paid off her mentor. Today she owns a large five-story building wherein beautiful leather and velour jewelry cases and display boxes are made and packaged. She has developed an international market, with many of her company’s 350 products exported to Europe, the United States, Japan, and elsewhere.

“I believe that through the gospel I have been prepared very well for my present assignment. I derive from the gospel my daily strength and motivation,” states Sister Sacher.

The Chemnitz and Dresden Morgenpost newspaper reported on 2 September 1996 that her business was “like balm to the wounds of the economically depressed Erzgebirge [area of Germany].” Indeed, Sister Sacher, who feels a great obligation to help her community, hires many people who would otherwise be part of the large unemployed population of Annaberg-Buchholz.

Sister Sacher is also a member of the city council. Her husband is president of the Dresden Germany Stake; their sons, Dierk, age 25, and Ulf, 23, are fifth-generation Latter-day Saints.

Sister Sacher serves as second counselor in the Primary of the Annaberg Ward, as well as a Primary and Relief Society teacher.George and Helen Blake, public affairs, Europe West Area, Frankfurt, Germany

In the Spotlight

  • Julie Ellsworth, a representative in the Idaho State Legislature, was part of a nine-member delegation representing the United States on an official visit to Israel and Egypt. Members of the delegation met with business leaders, members of the Israeli Knesset, and other government officials. Sister Ellsworth is a member of the Park Center Ward, Boise Idaho East Stake.

  • A member of the Payson 11th Ward, Payson Utah West Stake, Elmo Keck was one of eight student council advisers in the United States to be recipients of the Warren E. Shull Advisers of the Year award by the National Association of Student Councils. Brother Keck is an adviser at Spanish Fork High School.