Area Authority in Brazil

Until he was 15, João R. C. Martins Silva felt he lacked direction in life. “I had no idea who I should be or what I should do,” says Elder Silva, today an Area Authority Seventy in Brazil. But his life began to change in 1967 when his sister met the missionaries through a friend. “My parents allowed her to be baptized, and about a month later my mother, brothers, and I were also baptized,” he says.

His father, who had not objected to his family getting baptized, began to miss them on Sundays. One Sunday he decided to attend church with them, and soon he became converted as he felt the Spirit there and began to learn about the gospel.

When João read the Book of Mormon for the first time, he came across these words of King Benjamin: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The words illuminated his mind and soul, and he began to reflect on the desires he had felt since childhood to serve others. “After reading this scripture, I began to believe that I had a sacred purpose in life—to serve the Lord,” Elder Silva says. “This scripture serves as my motto, and I gain great satisfaction from helping others.”

A few months after his baptism, another family, the Estacas, joined the Church. Their daughter, Maria Lúcia, drew João’s attention. Over the years the two participated in youth activities and seminary and institute classes together. In 1977 they married, and the couple now have two children, Lúcia and João.

Elder Silva, who has worked for the Church Educational System for more than 25 years, feels great love for his family and for the gospel. “We are a united family because we have the gospel as a common reference point in our relationship,” he says.

[photo] Elder Silva with his family: João, Sister Silva, Lúcia

Standing Tall in Service

Standing slightly over four feet tall, Cathy Jensen exemplifies the scripture, “By small means the Lord can bring about great things” (1 Ne. 16:29). For more than two years she has volunteered in the gift shop at Jordan Valley Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to that, she volunteered for more than 10 years at the Brigham City Community Hospital, where she was honored for contributing more than 10,000 hours of service. She also volunteers as a tutor at an elementary school on Thursday afternoons and does extensive research in the family history records extraction program. For anyone this service would be admirable, but for Cathy—who has cerebral palsy as well as numerous other health challenges—it is nothing short of heroic.

“Cathy is in extreme pain constantly but does not complain,” says her mother, Joyce Anderson. “She has a beautiful attitude, and she really trusts in Heavenly Father.”

When asked why she feels volunteer work is so important, Cathy responds, “It helps you look beyond your own situation and think of others rather than yourself.” She is a member of the Prairie Second Ward, West Jordan Utah Prairie Stake.Pat Davies, Brigham City Ninth Ward, Brigham City Utah Box Elder Stake

Quilted with Love

Recently a unique quilt made by eight sisters from the Cypress Texas Stake in Houston, Texas, strengthened the bonds of friendship between the Church and the local community.

The story of the quilt actually began eight years ago, when the stake became a member of a local charitable organization, Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM). NAM, whose membership consists of 47 local congregations and civic organizations, espouses the same principles of dignity, self-reliance, and provident living found in the Church’s welfare program. Over the years, ward and stake auxiliaries have taken on special service projects with NAM, including providing shelter for homeless families and delivering food to homebound senior citizens. Two Latter-day Saints have served on NAM’s executive board.

In May 1999 Anais Watsky, NAM director, turned to the stake Relief Society with a special request. NAM was planning a fund-raising dinner that would raise money to help the poor in northwest Houston, and talented quilters were needed to make a quilt to be auctioned at the event. NAM would provide the materials if the stake would provide the labor.

The stake Relief Society agreed to take on the project. Sister Gail Bigelow produced an original design, and seven other sisters participated in putting the quilt together. Four sisters at a time worked on the quilt almost every weekday from 9:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. In October, after more than 1,700 hours of work, the quilt was completed.

More than 600 people were able to view the quilt at the dinner, and it was purchased for a substantial sum. The funds from the sale of the quilt will help provide food, medical care, and clothing for needy families in northwest Houston.Chris Fults, Lakewood Ward, Cypress Texas Stake

Faith Sustains Police Officer

During his 28 years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department, Stephen D. Kehoe received more than 75 commendations and letters of appreciation, including the Medal of Valor. On one occasion during his career as a motor officer, he was involved in a running gun battle and was shot twice while successfully saving a 12-year-old girl taken hostage by a robbery suspect.

Brother Kehoe, who has learned that faith gives people courage to face the difficulties of life, was converted as a youth at age 14 in Medford, Oregon.

His family was later stationed with the army in France, where he graduated from Orleans American High School. He went on to attend Brigham Young University on a football scholarship. Knee surgery ended his football career, and he moved to Seattle, where he met Candis Wallis. The two were married in 1966 in the Los Angeles California Temple. The couple spent the next four years with the army, where Brother Kehoe served as a military police captain. After leaving the army, he worked as a private investigator in San Diego before joining the LAPD.

During the years Brother Kehoe worked as a peace officer, he seriously studied the gospel. “In a career field that statistically leads in divorces and suicides and is near the top in stress, I credit the survival of my marriage and family to the principles taught by the gospel,” he says.

He feels the Lord has healed him on several occasions. He was shot one Friday night while on duty, and the next morning he had surgery to remove the bullet, then went home on Sunday. Another time he was poisoned. After initial test readings indicated a toxic level 14 times normal and instructions to be immediately hospitalized, his sons gave him a priesthood blessing. Forty-five minutes later the doctor sent him home.

“Seeking out our spiritual gifts and acting on them with faith is part of our heritage as Latter-day Saints,” says Brother Kehoe, who has been grateful for the Lord’s hand in saving his life.

The Kehoes have four grown children. Brother Kehoe is a member of the Mission Viejo First Ward, Mission Viejo California Stake.

In the Spotlight

  • For the second time, Deborah Wilder has been elected mayor of Foster City, California. She is a member of the Crystal Springs Second Ward, San Francisco California Stake, and she and her husband, Russell, are the parents of three children.

  • The Chinese government has presented to Christian and Karen Hardy their Friendship Award for humanitarian service. Brother and Sister Hardy, members of the Oakland First Ward, Oakland California Stake, are pediatricians who have helped bring about many improved conditions at a children’s hospital in China.