Brazil Area Authority

Born with malformed feet, Elder Ernani Teixeira, an Area Authority Seventy for the Brazil Area, did not learn to walk until he was seven years old. As a result, while other children played, he spent much time sitting and pondering. “Especially during the evenings I contemplated the skies and the Lord’s creations,” Elder Teixeira remembers. “In a simple way I was able to start a relationship with the Creator and see how small we are before him. That experience helped me realize the need for revelation and for a prophet.”

Many years later, Elder Teixeira started dating Gisa Rodrigues Alves, his future wife. Occasionally the two of them discussed religion and their shared feeling that something was missing from their church. But at that time they knew of no other options.

On 13 February 1969, Ernani and Gisa were married. Gisa suggested that they read the Bible to form the foundation for their marriage, and the couple began with the New Testament. “When we came to the Sermon on the Mount, I was impressed with the Lord’s prayer and the possibility of really communicating with the Father,” says Elder Teixeira. “After that, our prayers were different. We asked, ‘If there is a true church, show us the way.’”

Not long after their marriage the couple went to a nearby city for the weekend, and there they passed a church with a long and unfamiliar name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They didn’t give it much thought at first, but after they returned home, the name of the Church kept reentering Elder Teixeira’s mind. “What impressed me the most was the fact that it happened not when I was thinking about the trip but when I was concentrating on my books,” he says. He mentioned this to Gisa one morning and was surprised when she told him she had been having the same experience.

That night, after Elder Teixeira returned home from a day of study at the university, Gisa told him, “Two missionaries from that church knocked at our door this afternoon. I made an appointment for next Saturday.”

Upon hearing the missionary discussions, the couple knew that at last they had found the church they were looking for: “How happy we were to finally know for ourselves that the Lord had restored his true Church and that we are led by a true prophet,” Elder Teixeira says. He and Gisa were baptized on 7 June 1969.

Elder and Sister Teixeira have since held many callings in the Church and are the parents of three children. Elder Teixeira is a professor of economics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

A Coach with a Mission

“You have really changed my life, Coach.” Ed Nymeyer has heard similar comments many times during his 38 years of teaching and coaching at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, Arizona. The winningest coach in Arizona high school history, he led teams to more than 300 wins in two sports: boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball. The athletes on his teams have loved him and played hard for him and have been respected for both their skill and their good sportsmanship.

Much of Coach Nymeyer’s teaching was done outside the classroom. His athletes never heard him use a swear word and soon learned the same was expected of them. He often invited groups of students to his home for parties with his wife, Donna, and children. “So many kids today are from broken homes,” he says. “It may be the only chance they have to see what a family can and should be.” Sister Nymeyer says it is almost impossible to go anywhere in Tucson without meeting one of the 4,000 young people he taught or coached over the years.

Among his many honors, Brother Nymeyer has been inducted into the University of Arizona Hall of Fame, the Arizona Coaches’ Hall of Fame, and the Pima County Coaches’ Hall of Fame. He was also named the Arizona Daily Star volleyball coach of the year in 1991 and 1995.

An outstanding basketball player for the University of Arizona from 1954 to 1958, he earned several school records, including most points scored, most free throws made, and second-highest scoring average. Captain of the team for two years, he led the Wildcats in scoring for three consecutive years. While at the university, he also lettered in golf.

Brother and Sister Nymeyer recently completed an 18-month family history mission. “I love athletics and I love working with kids,” says Brother Nymeyer, “but working full time for the Lord doing genealogy and helping others find their kindred dead is very rewarding. It was perhaps the greatest experience of my life.”Dana Bayardo, Tucson, Arizona

Proud of Her Heritage

Andrea (Andi) Jack of Fairbanks, Alaska, has long felt the importance of educating others about her Native American culture. Of Tlingit Indian and Yupik Eskimo heritage, she has performed traditional dances and spoken to school and civic groups, worked as a tour guide at a simulated Indian village, and served as a tutor and mentor to Native American children in elementary school.

In 1996 Andi was chosen as Miss Indian World, and in that capacity she served as an ambassador for native peoples in the United States and Canada. A lifelong member of the Church, she knew that she represented not only Native Americans and Alaska but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well. “I’m so glad I didn’t miss that opportunity,” she says. “Even though it was tiring at times, every event was special to me.” Her favorite duties included teaching young people traditional Yupik dances and marching in the 1997 United States presidential inauguration parade.

For two years Andi worked as a liaison between Native American children and the Alaska school system. She served as a role model for children and helped them with classwork, organized cultural activities, and monitored their school attendance. “That experience led to my decision to become a teacher,” she says. She graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks last May and will start teaching first grade in the Anchorage School District this month. “All children deserve a teacher who loves and respects each of them individually and who is someone they can look up to,” she says. “A teacher can touch the lives of her students forever.” She also plans to be a reserve law enforcement officer.

Andi is the Young Women Laurel adviser in the Anchorage 18th Ward, Anchorage Alaska North Stake.Elizabeth K. Ritchie, Fairbanks, Alaska

In the Spotlight

  • James G. Matkin has been appointed chief executive officer of the Law Society of British Columbia. He previously was a business executive and attorney. Brother Matkin serves as public affairs director of the Vancouver British Columbia Stake.

  • The American Dental Association presented a Golden Apple award to Robert M. Merrill, a counselor in the bishopric of the East Wenatchee First Ward, Wenatchee Washington Stake. Brother Merrill received the award for his dedication to organized dentistry, new dentists, and the community.

  • Maren Norton has been elected student-body president of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. A member of the Stanford First Ward, Menlo Park California Stake, Maren grew up in the Richmond Beach Ward, Seattle Washington Shoreline Stake. She is a political science major and plans on teaching high school after graduating.