Area Authority in England

In the summer of 1950, one year after being introduced to the Church, eight-year-old Brian A. Watling and his parents were baptized. The baptism took place in the North Sea near a small island off the coast of Essex, England.

“I remember that we used an old World War II defense bunker to get changed into our white clothes,” says Elder Watling, now an Area Authority Seventy for the Europe North Area. “I also remember how the missionaries had mistimed the tide, for it was out, and we had to walk over a mile of mudflats to get to the sea.”

The Watlings were the first family in Colchester, England, to become Latter-day Saints since the late 1800s. For a time they formed the entire branch, though soon other families joined. Church meetings were held in rented buildings, usually political party halls. “I used to clean up the beer mugs and cigarettes from the hall and open the windows to clear the air so we could meet in a place more conducive to worship,” says Elder Watling. “Those were great faith-promoting days, and my faith grew in leaps and bounds.”

From 1962 to 1964 Elder Watling served in the Alaskan-Canadian Mission. “This was a time during which my love, devotion, and commitment to Jesus Christ and his great Church became absolute,” he says. “Wonderful companions, sacred experiences, and bringing souls to Christ made these two years the turning point in my life.”

Upon returning home, Elder Watling was pleased to find that the first meetinghouse in Colchester was nearing completion. His father had played a large part in securing the land and helping to construct the building.

On Christmas Day 1964 Elder Watling proposed to Pamela Turrell, whom he had met several years before his mission. They were married in 1965; the couple now have eight children. Elder Watling currently is a consultant who specializes in management development, and he says that nothing helps him better perform his job than the teachings contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“As I go about my work, I tell people who I am, what I am, and why, and I have never felt that this has done anything less than enhance my relationships,” he says.”I have learned that people everywhere respect values and standards, even though they may be unwilling to accept them as their own.”

Member Missionary

Ruben Delfor Luna, a doctor for more than 30 years in Mendoza, Argentina, prescribes doses of common sense based on gospel values along with his medicine. He carries a Book of Mormon with him when he makes his visits and has placed a number of them over the years.

Eight years ago Dr. Luna began visiting Uspallata, a village located 90 miles away in the mountains, to care for the sick. In addition to treating their outward afflictions, he often found himself treating their inner spirits with positive words of hope. Interest in Dr. Luna’s religion began to grow, but there were no missionaries to teach the people, and no branch of the Church was nearby.

Dr. Luna began a weekly 15-minute radio program to discuss important health concerns in the community. Each broadcast also included a message reflecting gospel teachings about life, the family, or finding happiness. The small village of Uspallata is so isolated that there are few things to do—except listen to the single radio station. Dr. Luna’s weekly messages soon became popular. Interest in the Church continued to grow, but there was still no way to establish a branch.

Under the direction of Argentina Mendoza Mission president Gordon K. Thomas, young adult members of the Maipu de Cuyo stake joined with missionaries and Dr. Luna in an activity in Uspallata, where they knocked on every door in town. Fifty referrals resulted from the day’s activity, and two missionaries were assigned to the area. Ten baptisms followed within a month, and the first seedlings of the Uspallata branch were planted.

“One of the most gratifying experiences of my profession is to complement traditional medicine with gospel principles,” says Dr. Luna. “I feel Heavenly Father has blessed me and helped me share the gospel with many people.”

[photo] Dr. Luna with his wife, María Rosa Luna.

[photo] Sunday School class in Uspallata, Argentina.

Searching Her Roots

Sheila Hsia has long felt a sense of urgency in doing her family history work. “In my patriarchal blessing I was promised that I could help my people in this life and in the life to come,” she explains.

In 1949, at age 23, Sheila left her native China and relocated to Hong Kong, where she joined the Church. Due to China’s political situation, she was not able to visit her hometown, Jungking, until 30 years later. While on a second trip she learned that during the Cultural Revolution her family’s records, which had been preserved for centuries, had been destroyed. Sheila then asked her brother Shao Qiang if he would search for any records that might include their family’s line.

In 1983 Shao Qiang learned that a distant relative, Xin Song, possessed some old family records. Some 50 years earlier, Xin Song’s father, who didn’t have long to live, gave Xin Song nine large books and told him to guard them with his life. Being unable to read or write, Xin Song did not know what was in the records but felt that the best thing he could do was to bury them in large clay pots beneath the ground in his home. This he did in 1930.

Not long afterward the village burned down, but the records remained safe in the ground. Sometime later the village was rebuilt. In the late 1960s, when the Red Guards came through and destroyed most of the records in the village, again these books were preserved as they lay under a blanket of earth.

In December 1983 Shao Qiang was able to visit Xin Song and hand copy from the records all the names of their direct line back 12 generations. He sent the information to Sheila, who, through further research, managed to trace her lines back an incredible 172 generations. “I am very lucky that the Chinese keep such detailed records,” she says.

Receiving these records was only the beginning of Sheila’s work; now she had to write by hand all of the Chinese names into thousands of family group sheets so that temple work could be done. This effort took several years to accomplish because it involved more than 15,000 names. Sheila continues to be involved in this endeavor. Additionally, she is a family history consultant in the Coquitlam Ward, Vancouver British Columbia Stake.—Elder and Sister Roland and Darla Tooley, Canada Vancouver Mission

In the Spotlight

  • Professional golfer Johnny Miller has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. In ceremonies held in St. Augustine, Florida, last May, he joined a listof 72 others so honored. Brother Miller, a high priests group instructor in the Napa Second Ward, is director of public affairs for the Napa California Stake.

  • Luis Alfredo Vidal de Carvalho has been honored by the Brazilian Society of Psychiatry for his contribution to the field of psychiatry. He has studied schizophrenia, and his methodology is now being applied to other psychiatric disorders. He is first counselor in the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Stake presidency.