Area Authority in Japan
“Sometime after I began attending church,” says Elder Hitoshi Kashikura, an Area Authority Seventy in the Asia North Area, “I noticed there were times when there were no flowers adorning the pulpit on the Sabbath. I noticed that when there were flowers on the pulpit it comforted the heart.” Making this realization prompted Elder Kashikura to learn ikebana, or floral arranging, a hobby that now gives him much pleasure. But it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that has brought the most comfort to his heart.
As a university student in 1960, Hitoshi was a young man with many troubling questions. Together with other students concerned about U.S.-Japanese relations, he carried flags and led street demonstrations. At this time he also began to study world political systems and religions. On one of his daily trips to the university library, he read about the Prophet Joseph Smith. Much of what he read was negative, yet it stated that Joseph Smith had restored the ancient Church of Jesus Christ. Enough interest was kindled that he began attending church. “The testimonies and acts of love shown by the missionaries were what led me to gain a testimony through the guidance of the Holy Ghost,” says Elder Kashikura.
After joining the Church, he desired to find a wife who would help him build the Lord’s kingdom. In 1964 he married Tomoko Konda; the couple now have six children. Elder Kashikura currently is chief manager of the design and engineering department of an engineering company in Japan.
“While it is a simple thing in a life of faith,” says Elder Kashikura, “I have truly, truly learned the importance of always praying. When one prays from the heart, it increases the faithful heart. And when one has a faithful heart, a deeper love grows. When love grows, it leads to the ability to treat those around us kindly. Praying unceasingly will bring about a better life as a member of the Church.”
Ronald Sims, 77, of the Cardston Second Ward, Cardston Alberta West Stake, reached his goal to act as proxy in 200,000 ordinances for the dead (baptisms, endowments, and sealings) at the Alberta Temple on 12 June 1997. He set his first goal for 100,000 in November 1980 and achieved that number by the end of 1985, when he set the goal to increase the number to 200,000.
A member since 1949, Brother Sims still remembers the day missionaries first knocked on his door. He says that even before they came, he felt a prompting telling him who they were and what they represented and that he had better listen to them. After joining the Church, he received his endowment in 1953 and then began doing work for the dead.
Service has long been a priority in his life. He cared and provided for his parents in their home until he was 40 years old. In 1980, suffering health setbacks that made him unable to continue his employment, he moved with his wife, Ruth, from Cherry Grove, Alberta, to Cardston, where Ruth could be close to her family. This move also made it easier for him to serve more frequently in the Alberta Temple. “As I see it,” he says, “every time you do temple work for an individual, you’re making another friend. So I imagine when I’m finally called home I’ll have a lot of friends around me.”
Brother Sims plans on getting a pacemaker for his heart so he’ll be able to continue attending the temple. He has set his sights on the quarter-million mark in proxy ordinance work for the dead. “I haven’t a doubt in the world that the Church is true,” he says. “And I haven’t a doubt in the world that the work I’m doing is the most important work I could be doing.”—, Cardston, Alberta, Canada
About two years ago, Sister Floripes Luzia Damasio arrived at the S•o Paulo Temple with other members of the Jo•o Monlevade Branch, Belo Horizonte Brazil Stake. During this temple excursion on 3–7 June 1997, she went through at least three sessions each day and was also sealed to her deceased husband and to other family members. This 500-kilometer trip (310 miles) was the third time Sister Floripes had attended the temple since her baptism in 1993.
None of these facts seems entirely unusual unless one knows a little about Sister Floripes and her circumstances.
Sister Floripes was born on 13 December 1889, just over one year after the May 1888 declaration freeing the slaves in Brazil. Her parents were former slaves who had worked for owners of sugar plantations. Sister Floripes, however, was born into freedom. She learned from her parents to place a high value on life, on freedom, and on work.
It wasn’t until 11 July 1993—at age 103—that Sister Floripes was baptized a member of the Church. In 1994, she traveled to the S•o Paulo Temple for her endowment. During her latest trip to the temple, she was 107 years old! While serving in the temple, Sister Floripes did not want to rest. She was a little tired but explained she was very happy being in the temple.
Now at age 109, Sister Floripes has outlived 5 of her 12 children. She still plants and harvests her own food, cooks her own meals, and takes care of a widowed daughter when she is ill. And Sister Floripes always arrives at the meetinghouse early on Sunday—in spite of having to walk a distance and then catch a bus.
Sister Floripes does not give in easily to annoyances and challenges of life. Her spine may have been curved by the passage of time, but she shows much determination and perseverance and is an example of finding happiness in righteous living.
In the Spotlight
Larry Gelwix, volunteer coach of the Highland Rugby team in Salt Lake City, Utah, recently led his squad to a third-place finish in the World Schools Rugby Championship in Harare, Zimbabwe. The privately funded team is made up of high-school-age young men who are primarily Church members. It was the only team from the Western Hemisphere invited to participate in the tournament. Brother Gelwix, who attributes the team’s success to applying gospel principles and focusing on doing their best, is a member of the Olympus Fifth Ward, Salt Lake Olympus Stake.
Pediatric ophthalmologist Roger L. Hiatt Sr. has been recognized by the American Academy of Ophthalmology as a Guest of Honor for the 1998 Annual Meeting and as the recipient of the Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award. Along with the charitable work he does in Tennessee, where he lives, Brother Hiatt has served a three-year mission for the Church in the Philippines, where he worked at the Baguio General Hospital, supervising both the residency program and the eye clinic. He is a member of the Memphis Second Ward, Memphis Tennessee Stake.