Never give up

Winston Churchill - known for his determination as the leader of Great Britain during World War II - returned in his later years to the school where he had studied as a boy.

Before he arrived the headmaster told the students, "The greatest Britisher of our time is going to come to this school, and I want every one of you to be here with your notebooks. I want you to write down what he says, because his speech will be something for you to remember all your lives."Then elderly statesman was introduced and delivered the following speech that he once gave in Parliament: "Never, never, never give up." (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 1997 General Conference)

Church members have been counseled repeatedly to persevere - as Winston Churchill - to never give in, regardless of temptations, frustrations, disappointments or discouragements.

Numerous examples of perseverance are found in the daily lives of members.

One thing stood between Benjamin F. Roll and his life-long dream when he graduated from law school in 1990 - the California bar.

Now 75, Brother Roll failed the test 13 times over a seven-year period before finally succeeding last summer.

In 1978 Benjamin F. Roll was encouraging his son, Thomas, to further his education. Thomas accepted, deciding to attend law school, and then offered the challenge to his dad. The father/son team applied and were accepted to Western States University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif. They started school in the fall of 1978.

But after a year and a half, the senior Brother Roll left school. "My stake president called me in and said, `Brother Roll, the Lord wants you and your wife on a mission, and He wants you now. A mission is more important than anything you are doing.' "

So Brother Roll and his wife, Garnet, members of the Corona Del Mar Ward, Newport Beach California Stake, served an 18-month welfare services mission in Hawaii. Upon their return, Brother Roll, a former bishop and high councilor, served as a branch president in Beattyville, Ky. It was almost 10 years before he had time to think about law school again.

When he tried to go back, the school told him he had been away too long, and would have to start over. So he did.

He graduated from law school in 1990 at the age of 68 - completing the first leg of his 19-year journey to practicing law in California. His family gathered around him, celebrating the fact that "old dad had finally graduated from law school."

But no one knew then, it would be seven more years - and 14 attempts at the California bar - before they would have another celebration.

The California Bar exam is offered twice a year, in February and in July. Brother Roll - who holds several academic degrees and is a World War II, Vietnam War, and Korean War veteran, retiring from the U.S. Amry as a lieutenant colonel 30 years ago - passed the exam in Feburary.

"I am used to success in my life," he said. "These people kept telling me that I hadn't made it, so I would dig out my books and try again. . . .

"I was determined that I would pass the bar if I lived long enough."

His son, Thomas, who completed law school shortly after the pair started in 1978, presided over his father's swearing-in this June.

Now Brother Roll plans to make the most of his well-earned success.

Since July, he has been to court a few times - once to stand in for another attorney and once with his granddaughter who had a moving vehicle violation.

Brother Roll thinks he might like to also set a up part-time practice with his son.

The younger Brother Roll will be the senior partner in the firm, the elder Brother Roll explained, since he has been practicing law all the years his father has been practicing for the bar exam.

They have even picked out a name for the future company: "Roll and Father, Attorneys at Law."

Lyle Chamberlain, 17, has wanted to build robots for as long as he can remember. He was reading about them in first and second grade.

Back then "it was pretty discouraging because most of the material I got a hold of were college books, and I was in elementary school," said Lyle, a member of the Oak City 2nd Ward, Delta Utah Stake. "I couldn't do the math."

But that didn't stop him from planning and carrying out big projects, such as the radio controlled airplane he built in the 7th grade.

He got the airplane for Christmas and spent hours and hours putting it together. Then he went to work, earning money to buy the engine and eventually the radio. The entire process took him seven months - but was worth it.

"You have to step back and say, `If I am going to get it done, what do I have to do?' " he said.

This perseverance paid off for Lyle last summer when he won second place in the engineering division of the International Science and Engineering Fair.

He had invented an obstacle-avoiding robot named Iris.

The student from Hawaii who took first place in Lyle's division built his robot at Westinghouse labs with a $12,000 grant. Lyle assembled Iris in his basement, spending $800 - money he earned by planting tress, driving a tractor and digging fence-post holes.

Most of the entrants in the international fair hailed from specialized technical high schools and were mentored by science fair coaches and professional researchers. Lyle's public school doesn't even have a science fair. In fact, he has never even taken an electronics class.

"I learned pretty much from books and trial and error," he explained.

If he got stumped, he would ask some of the local engineers in Oak City to look at his plans. They would tell him what to try, and he would read up on their suggestions.

Lyle's parents, Chuck and Lisa Chamberlain, say their son just "doesn't know when to quit."

Beside his interest in robotics, Lyle also plays the saxophone. He tries to practice three hours every day.

Lyle says he has just never compromised what he wants most for what he wants at the moment. Many days, he has stayed home to work on his robot or practice his saxophone while his friends are playing football in the park.

"I am just a normal kid as far as I am concerned," he said. "The stuff I am doing isn't that hard, it just takes a lot of work."

Tiffany Lott has a long list of athletic accolades. In July, BYU's versatile track and field star was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News.

At the NCAA championships in June, she won the heptathlon, placed third in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the javelin. Her score in the heptathlon of 6,211 points makes her the third highest scorer in NCAA history, behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Diane Greesham.

Tiffany, a member of the Oak Canyon Ward, Lindown Utah Stake, has also been ranked as high as second and 13th in the world in hurdles and heptathlon, respectively.

"I like to tell people to achieve their dream," she said. "That is what I believe in because that is what I am trying to do. . . . There is a price you have to pay, but it is worth it."

When she was younger she relied heavily on her talent and did not practice as much as she should have. Now she realizes that only practice, four to five hours a day in the off season and three to four hours a day during the season, will take her where she wants to go - the Olympics.

She qualified for the last Olympic trials but did not attend.

She was playing BYU intramural basketball when she injured her knee. Three months before the trials she had to make the decision to have knee surgery. "I had a hard time dealing with that," she said. "I was in the best shape of my life before and suddenly that was gone. It was really difficult to watch the rest of the team perform."

She thought it would take her a year to come back. "But that didn't happen," she explained, "I came back better than ever," setting numerous BYU, Western Athletic Conference and NCAA records during the 1996-1997 season. On Feb. 22, 1997, she broke the world indoor track record in the 55-meter hurdles.

She acknowledges that she has accomplished a lot already, but says she still hasn't reached her goal.

"I need more practice," she said. "I need to improve on each of my events. I still haven't run the perfect race.

". . . I don't just want to go to the Olympics, I want to win. I believe in never giving up."

While recovering from a car accident that left him in a quadriplegic condition, rehabilitation therapists told Dale Brannon he could still be anything he wanted to be.

"I thought about different careers," said Brother Brannon, a member of the Oklahoma City 1st ward, Oklahoma City Oklahoma stake. "I never could find anything I wanted to do more than medicine."

Brother Brannon decided during a mission to South Carolina and Georgia (a few years before the accident) that he wanted to be a doctor. He dreamed of opening a general practice in a rural area.

After he returned home in June 1991, he married Deborah Boyce in the Dallas Texas Temple and in October of 1992 their daughter, Alexis, was born. During the next 16 months, the family worked together, preparing Dale for medical school while he studied premed in Oklahoma and at BYU. He had good grades, was working hard and was confident he would get in.

But in early 1994, he and a friend were driving from Oklahoma to BYU to pick up a letter of recommendation for medical school when their truck hit at patch of black ice in Colorado and rolled.

Paralyzed from the neck down, Brother Brannon has only partial use of his arms.

Even if his therapists were positive, Brother Brannon worried his disability might prevent him from reaching his goal of being a doctor. Not knowing if it would be possible to get into medical school, he knew he wanted to try.

Through research, he learned of only four other people with a disability similar to his who had been accepted to medical school and met a young man, who was also a quadriplegic condition, who was in medical school at the time.

Then he applied to eight schools for the entering class in 1996 and was turned down by each. "One school was bold enough to say that I was not being considered for admission because of my disability," he recalled. "That was kind of disheartening."

Another school sent Brother Brannon "hoop jumping" until they had filled their class.

But when Brother Brannon faced a setback, he fought harder, his wife explained. At one point she said, "Let's pick a different career." But he wanted to be a doctor.

"Dale could not have done one thing more to get into school that first year," she added. "In rehab, everyone was saying, `Do whatever you want to do.' We found out that really wasn't true. It was really harder than they said it would be."

The next year, Brother Brannon applied to only one school - the University of Oklahoma. After an additional interview to talk to the admissions board about his disability, he was accepted. He started medical school this fall.

Today, he can't decide what kind of medicine he will specialize in. "Every time I read something, I get excited about it," he said. "It is sort of cliche, but you can do anything. . . . Society is starting not to look down on disabilities."

Sister Brannon agrees. "I'm sure it will be hard, but I am not worried. I know he can do it. I am glad he has the opportunity to do it."

Before Sept. 28, 1994, Juliann Sommerfeldt never imagined she would have to persevere spiritually - reconfirming her faith in the Lord's plan for eternal happiness on a daily basis.

On that day, she was driving from her home in southwestern Alberta to Provo, Utah, with her husband, Dalan, and their 1-year-old son, Devan. They had planned to attend general conference and their missionary reunions.

But outside of Plymouth, Utah, the family was involved in a car accident. The Sommerfeldt's baby was killed. "Right then," said Sister Sommerfeldt, "the gospel worked instantaneously. We just knew that there was a plan for everything. We had a calming peace."

Before the accident, things in the life of the young couple - both returned missionaries - had been going well. Sister Sommerfeldt quit her job when their son was born and they had just saved enough money to build their first house. "We prayed, we read our scriptures, we really tried to do everything that we were supposed to do," she said. "We were really on the right track. We were very content."

Then Devan died two days before his first birthday and the Sommerfeldts contentment fell apart. Gaining it back has been a daily struggle.

The first year after the accident the couple lived in eight different homes. There were days when Sister Sommerfeldt's "arms ached for the weight of a baby."

They worked in their ward nursery and although they loved the time with the children, they dreaded the moment when Church ended; when other parents picked up their children and they went home empty handed. "We didn't know what to do or where to turn," she recalled.

So they turned to the Lord, and continue to do so every day. Questions such as " why?' andwhat if . . . ?' will not bring peace," she said. "Jesus Christ died for us and through Him we can still be a family. That brings peace."

Sister Sommerfeldt also remembers the words of a song her sister-in-law, Dana Sloan, wrote for Devan's funeral. "There's a light still shining. There's a face still smiling. There's a hope and dream yet to come true. God is now my keeper. Heaven is my home. Love is all around me and I am not alone."

The Sommerfeldts have never given up on the principles that are important to them - faith, eternal life, hope, and peace - because little things keep them going. "Life can be made up of the little spiritual moments," she said.

In the years since the accident they have put their lives back together.

On Feb. 20, 1996, their daughter, Shaelee, was born, and on May 17, 1997, a son, Jase, was born.

There are still days when the Sommerfeldts cry, when they question why their son is no longer with them. But they persevere, reconfirming their faith on a daily basis that the time will come when they will be with their son again. They teach their younger children about their older brother and Heavenly Father's plan.

They have never given up on the gospel or the Lord's eternal plan which, Sister Sommerfedlt said, "can take shattered hearts and heal them."

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