“The Hymns Are Hers,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 69
Mandy Kunitz, age 33, of the Tooele Third Ward, Tooele Utah North Stake, likes to be busy and involved wherever she goes. In 1995, one year before her family moved from South Africa to the United States, she traveled to Connecticut and competed in the Special Olympics, where she won a gold medal in bocce, a bowling game played on a fine gravel or smooth lawn. During this visit she also had a chance to meet Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Mandy makes friends easily. “The warmth and acceptance of ward members has always been such a blessing,” says Mandy’s father, Ron. “You sometimes hear that people don’t know how to react to or share with individuals with Down’s syndrome, but fortunately Mandy has never been ignored. In fact, if anything, she’s been indulged.”
Her leaders and teachers in Durban, South Africa, where Mandy grew up, were among her best friends. They helped her graduate from Primary, earn her Young Womanhood Recognition award, and participate in Relief Society, where she still loves to sing and give prayers. She made another good friend when a child in the Durban Bluff Ward was hurt in an accident and lay in a coma for several months. Mandy wanted to comfort the child’s mother, so she sat by her at church and visited her home.
Mandy’s pleasant manner and desire to fully participate make her a well-loved member of her ward, where she helps with the Primary. In her calling, Mandy makes out a certificate for each child who offers a prayer or gives a talk in Primary. Mandy is also in charge of hymnbooks, an assignment she had in Durban and continues to enjoy in Tooele. She sees that all hymnals are where they belong after meetings and before sacrament meeting each week. When still living in South Africa, Mandy also posted the hymn numbers at the front of the chapel.
“Mandy’s dependability is exemplary,” says her mother, Pat. Back in Durban “Ron and I didn’t get to the chapel early enough for her, so she walked the half mile to church an hour early. She wanted to have the hymn numbers posted well before the meeting.”—Vera Bell, Durban, South Africa