Shining moments: Helping Others

Day after day, Sister Gerhild Sacher - like many in East Germany in those days - punched the clock and filled her role in a society that required men and women to work.

Despite government restrictions, they were allowed to attend church meetings and participate in activities, including early-morning seminary where Sister Sacher taught her two sons and youth in the ward for nine years.But when communism collapsed in November 1989, a political and social upheaval followed. Her packing plant was shut down, as were many other facilities.

Unemployment skyrocketed, hitting an estimated 30 percent in the scenic mountain region of Annaberg-Buchholz where she lived.

"These were desperate times that called for leadership and solutions," she said. As a fourth-generation member of the Church, she had been reared to understand that membership required taking an active role in society. So she and her husband, Siegfried, who now serves as president of the Dresden Germany Stake, weighed their options and after soul-searching prayer, decided to risk their life savings in a private enterprise.

She knew nothing about the free market system, but with the aid of an investor from West Germany, she founded a business of making jewelry boxes. The business proved to be a double blessing. Not only did it provide employment for her family where her sons worked to fund schooling and missions, but also she was able to hire older women in the area who had few prospects for employment. She repaid her investor within two years.

During the next several years, as Sister Sacher watched a fledgling democracy take root, she felt that her area could benefit from leadership that understood the principles of the gospel.

With her family's encouragement, she won a seat on the city council in only the second free election held in former East Germany.

Looking back, she now sees the hand of the Lord in helping her to help others. "In a time when all things in life changed - schools, work, government - only the gospel remained a constant," she said.

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