“Of Good Report,” Ensign, Jan. 1994, 77–79
Missionaries Compile Kenya Museum Records
The director of the Kenya National Museum, Dr. Muhammed Isahakia, has received a compilation of the thousands of items contained in the museum, thanks to the efforts of more than forty missionaries serving in the Kenya Nairobi Mission.
This massive undertaking required countless hours as teams of elders spent two to three hours every week for the past several months counting and cataloging objects.
“This is the first-ever record source. It will be an invaluable aid to our work,” said Gideon Matwali, a recent convert and museum archivist.
Swedish Members Help Russian Orphanage
“The Russians live only five hundred kilometers (three hundred miles) from us,” reports Mats Ekelund, a member of the Handen Ward, Stockholm Sweden Stake. Close enough that when members of the Handen Ward heard about an orphanage in Syktyvkar, Republic of Komi, Russia, that was desperately in need of help, they eagerly responded.
The whole ward got involved in the project, which included donating food and supplies for the sixty-five children living at the orphanage.
When ward representatives called the orphanage to inform them of the project, they were greeted by tears. The director had written various organizations asking for help. Three times foreign delegations had visited, then left, wishing those in charge “good luck.”
Initially, members donated clothing, some food, powdered milk, and other items. After the phone call, members were told that there were only seven knives in the entire orphanage and that other dishes and utensils were in short supply. The children, who hadn’t seen milk in two years, were eating in four shifts so everyone could have a dish.
Ward members redoubled their efforts, and dishes and silverware began pouring in. In addition, others not associated with the ward heard about the project and offered to help. By the time the supplies were sent to Syktyvkar, some 280 boxes of food, toys, and clothing had been received, as well as a refrigerator and two sewing machines.
Brother Ekelund, who delivered the supplies to the orphanage, reported the visit was inspiring, delightful, and humbling. “Our last evening there,” he said, “all the kids sat down, and I told them about God. I explained the plan of salvation and told them that God loves and cares for everyone. We read some excerpts from the Book of Mormon; they all wanted to hear more. The Spirit was truly present.”
Ohio Saints Make Sleeping Bags for Homeless Children
For the second year in a row, members of the Cleveland Ohio Stake participated in the KIDSACKS project. The service project, organized by a local association of seamstresses and textile artisans, consists of making kidsacks, a sleeping bag with a built-in pillow. The items are then given to homeless children.
“It is exciting to see the huge bolts of colorfully striped or plaid and plain materials, bolts of batting, and huge spools of thread travel the production lines [set up in local malls] and emerge as finished, lightweight sleeping bags, each appliquéd with a huge heart embroidered with ‘Sweet Dreams’ and completely portable for even the smallest child to carry and call his or her own,” reported Gladys M. Osborne, stake public affairs director.
“Our young people are enthusiastic over this service project; we call it ‘kids working for kids.’ We make use of everyone; they cut material, pin, sew, serge, unpin, inspect, and bag. They leave feeling happy and successful with their service.”
KIDSACKS project director Marlene Ingraham called the two hundred-plus LDS volunteers the “backbone” of the production line. “Without the ongoing, enthusiastic work of your experienced volunteers, working side by side with other volunteers, the project would not have run as smoothly or been as productive. The LDS families, youth groups, women, and men set the example of good workmanship, teamwork, and productivity. We know that other volunteers caught the spirit and learned from your volunteers.”
Gift to the Community
This month, for the sixth year in a row, members in the Palo Alto Second Ward, Menlo Park California Stake, are hosting an exhibit of crèches from all over the world. The four-day exhibit, explains Shirley G. Campbell, is the ward’s gift to the community.
Last year, more than five thousand people toured the display, with more than 50 percent of the visitors being members of other faiths. Highlights of the exhibit included exquisitely detailed Swiss carvings set against a six-foot long Bethlehem scene, a village of eighty traditional carved wood figures from Oberammergau, and unusual Polynesian, Eskimo, and American Indian displays.
More than forty countries are represented in the display. In addition, several of the crèches were made from unusual materials such as seed pods, driftwood, Philippine grass, terra cotta, thread, corn husks, and gingerbread.
Local leaders annually invite community dignitaries, as well as members of other religious congregations, to come and enjoy the more than three hundred nativity scenes that make up the collection. “It is a quiet and beautiful way of letting the community know that our church believes in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Marlene Meshinski, one of the event organizers. “The exhibit is a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season.”
A Month of Meals
There are no members of the Church in Levasy, Missouri. Yet when residents of that small rural town were driven from their homes by flooding during the summer of 1993, Relief Society sisters in the Independence Missouri Stake wanted to help.
On 16 July 1993, just days after the swollen Missouri River surged over its banks and swallowed the homes of twenty-two Levasy families, stake Relief Society president Shirley Gallup called Levasy resident Dorothy Wynn and volunteered help. Eighty-one years old, Mrs. Wynn had survived three floods and seemed the town’s natural choice for flood relief coordinator.
“We need meals,” she told Sister Gallup. And so, six days a week for a month, Relief Society members from the stake’s nine units prepared, delivered, and served meals for twenty-five to fifty people at the Levasy Civic Center, the command post for flood relief and temporary home to many of the displaced victims.
“Often, the only meal they got was the one we would serve at noontime, and then we would leave the leftovers for their evening meal,” explained Terri Hontz, Relief Society president in the Independence First Ward. Enchiladas, casseroles, barbecued burgers, chicken, hoagie sandwiches, and honey-baked ham with all the trimmings were just a few of the month’s entrees.
However, members of the Church provided more than food; they also served up love and support and a sense that someone cared. “It was a really fulfilling experience because they were very grateful. They saw that we were there because we genuinely cared,” explained Michelle Truman, Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher in the Blue Springs First Ward.
“The people I’ve talked to have told me how much it meant to them to have us come, how it really got them through just knowing that a meal was coming each day,” Sister Gallup noted.
The gratitude shown to the Saints was even more meaningful considering the self-sufficient nature of these independent people. “These are farmers, and they’re not used to having to depend on someone else,” Sister Truman observed. “It was hard for them to accept someone else doing something for them.”
Yet they had no choice. The flood had stripped them of their belongings and changed their lives. Many didn’t have enough to eat until the members started bringing the meals.
Sister Truman described her shock the first time she helped deliver a meal. “I expected to see water, but there were boats right there in the road. The Civic Center was on the ‘shoreline.’ There was one lady living in the center who could look out the back window and see her house under water up to the picture window. I asked someone where the river used to be, and she said two miles away.”
What Sister Truman described was just the damage from the first crest. A second crest followed, which drove flood victims from the Civic Center refuge to a fire station in a nearby town. The Relief Society continued to feed their newfound friends at the new location.
And as other needs arose, the Saints were there. When the flood relief agency asked for quilts, the stake quickly organized a marathon quilting bee and finished eighteen quilts. In addition, those involved told relatives of the plight of the Levasy farmers, and help began coming from other areas as well.
In Firth, Idaho, members of the Kimball Ward, who suffered through the Teton Dam break in 1977, sent a truckload of new sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and thirty-two quilts. Attached to two sheet sets were notes carefully written by a child: “This isn’t much but we hope it will help.”
Local support was also gratifying. Members donated money, cleaning supplies, and other essential items. Local businesses helped provide food for some of the meals. And many people donated hours and hours of time.
Although not a member of the Church, Mrs. Wynn knows it is by serving others that God helps his children. And to those Latter-day Saints who reached out to the victims in Levasy, she says, “You didn’t know it, but you were an answer to my prayers. We needed somebody and the telephone rang and somebody was there.”—Heidi Jackson Willes, Blue Springs, Missouri