Tragedy or blessing?

As I read the article “The Contaminated Chocolates” in the December New Era, I relived that exciting time in our ward in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The story was accurate and well written, but there is more to be told. The news of Danny Collette’s serious illness and the subsequent loss of the chocolates came at a time when our ward was deep in grief. During the preceding two months of 1973 we had been devastated by a series of tragedies.

First, David Atkinson, an active young seventy, died of cancer, leaving a young widow and five small children, including a month-old son. Then death finally claimed Reed Ricks, who was a spiritual giant an a spiritual giant and an inspiration to us all—especially influential with the young men and boys of the ward. His physical condition had deteriorated over a period of years as a result of a progressive muscular disease, but in the end cancer took him too: Of his six children, three were still at home with their mother, and a son had just departed on a mission to the Philippines.

About the same time, a tragic automobile accident seriously injured Valerie Storer, a student at Ricks College. Val was beautiful and talented, and her cheerfulness and optimism had brought sunshine to our ward family. She and her doctors fought for her life, and we were encouraged by her steady improvement. Suddenly one evening, however, she suffered a cardiac arrest and was gone. Very shortly afterward, Johanna (Anna) Young succumbed to cancer after a six-year battle, leaving her husband and young daughter.

It was too much. Our spirits were low, and with Christmas fast approaching, we found it difficult to lift ourselves out of the depression that seemed to permeate the entire ward. Our meetings were solemn, and we wept easily. Then tragedy struck again. Danny was seriously ill with hepatitis, and because he had helped with the chocolates, all had to be destroyed. Added to his severe illness was his terrible feeling of guilt. His heart-broken mother confided in her friends, and an idea was born.

Was it really a tragedy, or was it a blessing? It seemed to be precisely the medicine we needed for our own illness. As our fund-raising project escalated and activity increased feverishly, our spirits rose. Christmas was more joyous than we could have anticipated a short time before, and we could hardly wait for news of the New Year’s Eve party in the Lloydminister Branch in Canada when Danny would open the envelope we had sent. We smiled at each other more now, and laughter came easily as we thought of the secret we all shared and of the surprise waiting for our Canadian brothers and sisters. I have often thought of the lines James Russell Lowell wrote in “The Vision of Sir Launfal”: “Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me.”

Edythe B. Casper Idaho Falls, Idaho

The warm joy

I can’t even express the warm joy I felt as I read of Brother Tanner and his son in “Two Alone, Three Together” in the January–February New Era. This story was one of high quality and touched me to the heart. Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard Brother Tanner’s stories. I’ve sat through some great seminary classes and listened to him tell us of the wonders of the gospel. Indeed he has not only touched the life of his son Bob but has also enriched and inspired all the people he teaches. He is responsible for inspiring hundreds of prospective missionaries from the Spanish Fork-Salem area, and on behalf of them all I’d like to thank him and our pal Bob for the great and uplifting experiences they shared with the world.

Elder J. E. Shaw England Leeds Mission

Serenity at the crossroads

The Texas Dallas Mission may have found Elderville and the Texas Houston Mission may have found Zion (inside front of the September issue), but the elders of the Texas San Antonio Mission have found serenity on the road to the celestial kingdom.

Elders Parker, Williams, Hutchison, and Staley Texas San Antonio Mission

Just think!

My parents have made sure that we have always had the Church magazines in our home, but it was only a couple of years ago that I really started to take an interest in the New Era. My testimony has really been strengthened by reading and learning from other people and their experiences. I enjoy reading the comments sent in by all the missionaries around the world, and I wish them success. I am sending the New Era to a nonmember friend who is serving in the Marines, and hopefully it will be a missionary tool. If every member could bring one soul into the Church—just think!

Julie Ann Argyle American Fork, Utah

New Era dig

In the first week of August I went to the Idaho Falls Temple to be sealed to my parents for time and eternity. While my parents went through a session before the sealing, I sat in the youth waiting room of the temple. This was a time for quiet reflection, and while I sat there, I read through the entire September 1978 issue of the New Era. This was very inspiring to me. I especially enjoyed the story “Religion, Rebellion, and Rebecca.” When I returned home from the temple, I dug out all the New Eras from the past year or so and began reading them. Since then the New Era has become an important part of my life, and I look forward to it each month. I was surprised to find that one of my best friends is also an avid reader of the New Era. We have been trying to get others to read this fine Church magazine.

Lonny Northrup Ontario, Oregon

Roses and a thorn

I just had to sit down and write a thank-you for one of the greatest magazines I’ve ever read. I received a subscription from my friend last summer, and since then I’ve been having many great moments with the New Era, moments filled with both laughter and tears. I have really enjoyed articles like “The Last of the Big-Time Spenders” and “The Award” (both by Brother Weyland), and “The Stern but Sweet Seventh Commandment” by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. I think the New Era is just what we need in the world today, something that tells us that it is really worthwhile to be different.

Well, I should have warned you that there are no roses without a few thorns! Somebody has said that you can never wait too long for anything good. But still, receiving the December New Era in the middle of February isn’t so nice. Is it possible to get the New Era by airmail? I’m willing to pay extra for it. If no, dear New Era, while I learn patience, please could you hurry just a little?

Tarja Mannonen Helsinki, Finland

Your December New Era was mailed on the 13th of November, so you can credit the delay to the mysteries of international postal delivery. It is possible to receive the New Era by airmail, but the cost is high. Below is a listing of the annual cost of airmailing the New Era to various parts of the world. Unfortunately, these rates will undergo another substantial increase early next year. Please remember that these costs are in addition to the regular subscription price.

Editor

USA and Territory, Canada, Mexico: $7.00

Central America, West Indies, Bahamas, Bermuda: $11.00

Europe, North Africa, South America: $16.00

China, Asia, Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Korea, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa, South Pacific, Taiwan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria (West Africa): $21.00

It is helping

I have just finished reading the March issue of the New Era, and it has left me very touched. My favorite article is the one about Colleen Webb Asay. Her faith in the Lord has been an inspiration to me. Being a nonmember, I have been giving serious thought to becoming a Latter-day Saint. A close and sincere friend of mine, Catrina Fazzari from Toronto, has sent me a gift subscription to your wonderful magazine to help make my decision easier. And it is helping me.

Karen Mizuyabu Toronto, Ontario, Canada