Norma Love: Into the Jungle

    “Norma Love: Into the Jungle,” Ensign, Oct. 1990, 55–56

    Norma Love: Into the Jungle

    Side-stepping along the narrow log spanning a snake-infested river, Norma Love held tightly to her guide’s hand, concentrating on keeping her balance, with her eyes focused on the far bank. Soon her foot touched solid ground again. Sister Love had overcome another obstacle to reach the forgotten and impoverished Indian refugees deep in the Honduras jungle near the border of Nicaragua.

    Norma has lived her life by faith, following promptings that led her to the Church and helped her find ways to serve the Moskito Indians in a remote region of her native Honduras as well as the needy in Arlington, Texas, where she now resides.

    When Norma was fourteen years old, she would stop at a small church building on her way home from school to listen to a pair of blond, blue-eyed missionaries give her the discussions. Although she believed the principles they taught her, Norma’s mother told her to stop her visits.

    When Norma was eighteen years old, she moved to New York City and in 1964 attended the New York World’s Fair. There she discovered the Mormon Pavilion and asked to hear more about the Church. Living alone in a small apartment, Norma felt independent and confident enough to make her own decisions and was baptized. More than twenty years later she serves as Spiritual Living teacher in the Spanish-speaking branch in the Arlington stake and is still the only member of her family other than her children to join the Church.

    A single mother with two grown daughters, Norma teaches high school and is a full-time college student and a volunteer at Arlington’s homeless shelter. Yet she still finds time to collect one hundred boxes of food, seeds, clothing, tools, and medical supplies, which she delivers personally to the Indians living in the hard-to-reach refugee camps in Honduras.

    Despite warnings that she would be risking her life in the harsh jungles filled with predators, disease, and unstable military operations, Sister Love felt compelled to help these people after hearing of their plight through news reports. With the assistance of her sister, a Red Cross official, Norma flew on a light plane, hitched rides on trucks, and canoed through swamps to learn for herself the extent of their need. What she found was “people of great faith, who read the Bible, sing hymns, pray often, and keep the Sabbath.”

    Each Christmas for three years now, Norma Love has risked her life to return with provisions and copies of the Book of Mormon to share with the Indians. According to Sister Love, “generous people have contributed food, clothing, medical supplies, and educational materials so badly needed there. Others have miraculously offered transportation or protection as I’ve traveled in high-risk areas.”

    During Norma’s second Christmas effort, so many boxes and bags full of supplies appeared on her doorstep that she was unsure how she would actually get everything there. She just kept packing and praying, while contacting airlines and different organizations hoping to find someone to transport the supplies.

    Through various forms of international cooperation, everything came together. By Christmas she was on her way again, with supplies that would let the Indians know they were not forgotten and give them hope to continue until their circumstances change.

    As Norma gave copies of the Book of Mormon to the Indian pastors, she told them, “I believe in this book. Please read it and teach it to your people.” They did just that.

    “Whenever I am among these humble people,” says Norma, “I am moved by their faith and look forward to the time when conditions will permit the missionaries to share the gospel with them.”

    • Nancy Kinsey Needham is a homemaker and mother of four in the Forest Hill Ward, Arlington Texas Stake.

    Photo by David C. Needham