“Profiles in Miniature: The European Saints,” Ensign, Aug. 1973, 44
Sister van den Hazel and her husband had sought out the Latter-day Saint missionaries shortly before their marriage and had been converted. When World War II began, she was serving as Relief Society president in The Hague. One day she visited a sister who, because she had no food in her home or fuel for warmth, had crawled into bed. “She was reading the Bible,” Sister van den Hazel recalls, “and she told me that spiritual food also gives nourishment.” Following the war their eldest daughter was called on a mission. Though her wages were vital to the welfare of the family, the van den Hazels urged her to go. “We have never been so well off as while she was on that mission,” Sister van den Hazel says.
Brother Kindt, the Hamburg Stake patriarch, and his wife, Maria, are parents of ten children. At the close of World War II, in which he had been a prisoner of war, he returned to find no home, no clothing, no furniture—but a mission call awaiting him. He answered the call and filled his mission and has, he claims, “been greatly spiritually blessed.”
Sister Kopp, now serving as Swiss Stake Primary president, was called in 1956 as mission Primary president. “Not many teaching materials were available then, and many lessons had to be translated from English. But we persisted. I love children. The gospel is for them as well as for adults. They will be good adults if they learn the gospel in their youth.”
A patent attorney and assessor, Brother Stoltenberg represents a firm of 7,000 employees before the German patent court and gives instructions to attorneys in 50 countries on German patent law. A district counselor in the Church, he recalls that missionaries came to his door in 1960, “when my wife and I were searching intensely for the meaning of life. We have found it in the Church.”
Now the patriarch of Holland Stake, Brother Jongkees learned the gospel from a colleague in the Dutch Royal Navy, Pieter Vlam, to whom Brother Jongkees said, “It is as if I have always known the things you have told me, but that I had forgotten them.” During World War II he was a counselor in the Netherlands Mission presidency and experienced “miraculous deliverances. The gospel saved my life.”
At the age of 32 Brother Matern was called to be president of Hamburg Stake. He was baptized in Denmark when his family fled oncoming Russian armies during World War II. A fellow Saint says of him, “He is a man who was formed by the gospel, and so it is easy to work with him.”
Sister Leuti, a former actress and dancer who has toured throughout Europe, has shared the gospel with many of her acquaintances. “I create the opportunity to talk about the Church,” she says, “in the grocery store, at my hairdresser, even on the bus. One day two elders gave me a Joseph Smith tract. When I read it, I knew it was true. My purpose now is to share the gospel with all I can.”
Baptized at age 14, Sister Menssen has served in many teaching positions but enjoys most her work with the youth of the Church. She is now serving as a seminary teacher. “Conversion to the gospel does not always happen in a minute,” she says. “Sometimes it comes, unconsciously, step by step. The words to Peter have been a personal motto for me: ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ And in so doing, I have strengthened myself even more.”
An engineer, Brother Kirschbaum has been head engineer in a large plant widely known for its new products and has directed engineering design for steam turbines used in 50 percent of the Dutch Royal Navy vessels. He was one of those who heard the gospel from Pieter Vlam while interned as a prisoner of war during World War II.
Brother Keifer has had a long and distinguished career of Church and public service. The owner of a large photo development business, he has been chairman of an organization of photo and movie merchants in the Saar. He sees his material blessings as a “result of devotion to the Lord.”
This couple, both nearly 80, have unshakable testimonies of the gospel. They have collected genealogical data for approximately 1,000 of their ancestors. Brother Borcherding served as a branch president for 25 years, during which time he rode his bicycle through all kinds of weather to neighboring towns to visit members and conduct meetings.
Sister Frey, district Relief Society president, had always longed to be able to go to a temple. “You can imagine our joy when the temple at Zollikofen [Bern] was completed,” she writes. Before her marriage she had worked as secretary to a boss who, she recalls, had few scruples. “In response to my prayers, I was offered a job where my boss was honest and respectable. The Lord helps us—even in what we might call small things.”
Now the Leiden Branch president in the Holland Stake, Brother Jongkees served as stake president for ten years. Like his father, Arie Jongkees, he learned the gospel while serving in the Dutch Royal Navy—though while imprisoned in concentration camps. His Mormon colleague, Pieter Vlam, “preached to all who would listen. By the end of the war, he had converted 11 persons.”
A member since 1958, Brother Fuchshofer has served as counselor to three mission presidents. He is manager of a major industrial firm, having worked up from an apprenticeship. A play that he wrote, Imo Dostils Victor, was presented as a fund-raising project for a new chapel.
Brother Mullor was the first missionary from Spain and served in his native land. “The greatest experiences I’ve known in my life have been a result of my acquaintance with our Father in heaven. These experiences have come by personal testimony and revelation. I feel joy every day of my life since the day I joined the Church.”
Sister Snaidero and her husband found the Church while living in France and were later baptized in Bologna. Some of the first Saints in Italy, they have lived for 22 years in a region virtually untouched by missionaries. “We made an acquaintance with a Protestant gentleman who accepted baptism,” she writes. “Soon another gentlemen joined us, and we met every Sunday for sacrament meeting services.” Though her husband died a year ago, the small group continues its weekly meetings.
Brother Troffaes, president of Antwerp District, Netherlands Mission, recalls that when he first heard the missionaries preach the gospel, he scoffed and said that “they actually had the nerve to say that Jesus Christ had appeared to people living in America!” Now, he says, “I know of only one place on earth where good works are immediately rewarded: the Lord’s church. I have accepted all tasks given to me and have discovered unknown talents in myself. I have made many mistakes but I have gained strength through repentance, and I continually try to do better.”
Brother Hasse, president of Dusseldorf Stake, served a mission in Germany and then a building mission to England and Scotland. He and Sister Hasse have three children of their own and three foster children, two of whom are serving missions. A salesman, he was recently awarded top prize in his firm’s sales competition.
A former French attorney who had studied at Columbia University in New York, Sister Lebon was teaching at a Catholic school when elders contacted her. After joining the Church, she became associated with the France Mission staff and is now language coordinator for French-speaking countries. “My life has been greatly blessed by being a member of the Church. It is beautiful to feel one’s testimony grow almost every day,” she says.
A plastic surgeon, Brother Massei is first counselor in his branch Sunday School. He formerly taught plastic surgery at a university and became the youngest assistant head surgeon in Tuscany. “My work was number one in my life until I knew the Church,” he says. “But I have learned much from my profession. I have learned from working with deformed children that most parents accept and love their children greatly, even though they may be different. I realized within myself that this must be somewhat like our relationship with God: He loves us and accepts us as we are.” Brother Massei says that his greatest pleasure in the Church is to make “house calls” on his “patients”: his home teaching families.
Brother Didier, who was recently released as president of the France-Switzerland Mission, was the first mission president called from Europe who had not previously lived in America. A Belgian, he speaks four languages, has a bachelor’s degree in economics, and has worked in the Church’s translation department in Frankfurt. He and his wife, Lucie, have two sons. Shortly after their marriage, he reports, “we had several long planning sessions on how to succeed in marriage. Our best answer was to follow the gospel principles. We testify that it has worked!”
Brother Oliveria, an attorney, enjoys movie-making; in fact, he wants to write commercial filmscripts with a gospel message. He has already won two prizes from the Spanish government, one for a film on life after death and the other for one on the spirit world. For many years there had been an American branch in his city, and he was the first Spanish member there. “Soon my mother and a few other relatives came, then a miracle happened: we had 25 in our group! Then the Law of Freedom of Religion was passed and we applied as Spanish members to organize the Church in Spain. Soon some missionaries came to Spain. All this timing of the Lord is a great testimony to me.”
As a group, Latter-day Saints thrill to learn about other members of the Church, particularly those from afar—whether the distance be measured culturally, geographically, or even historically.
Through hearing of the gospel’s applications among the Saints, gospel truths are reconfirmed in our hearts and seeds are planted for improving our own behavior.
In planning this issue of the Ensign, we wanted to feature some of the Saints who live in continental Europe—to briefly tell their stories and let them share their testimonies. From the numerous profiles we received, the following have been selected as representative of European Saints who apply gospel principles in their lives.