Couple renews hopes, spiritual goals
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When Marie and Scott Haumesser were married in the Hawaii Temple in 1980, they were a typical young couple radiant in their hope for the future.
But six years later when they moved into the Woodridge Ward, Naperville, Illinois Stake, their outlook had changed drastically. Both were less active, and she told then-Bishop James D. Jorgensen that Relief Society visiting teachers were not welcome at her home.Their lives had changed as they followed his military career to distant bases and assignments.
"We had non-member friends who didn't live the Word of Wisdom," said Sister Haumesser. "I didn't feel comfortable being around them. It put a strain on my husband's and my relationship.
"We moved to a base in California that was two hours from San Diego. Being so far away from my family, I was very lonely and I felt angry. I really felt isolated and alone. I felt uncomfortable in Church with our marital problems - I felt like a hypocrite. I slowly started staying away. Pretty soon, I stayed away completely.
"Things got really bad then, and I grew very depressed and withdrawn. I didn't have the Spirit with me any more. I missed going to Church and having fellowship with my brothers and sisters. But I never gave the members a chance - I never talked to the bishop."
The birth of their sons, Sean and Norman, helped focus her life and she threw her energy into caring for them. A few years later when the family moved to the Woodridge Ward, it was a homecoming for Brother Haumesser, who had been converted here originally. They were soon visited by Bishop Jorgensen who had once helped teach Brother Haumesser.
"Don't try to get my wife active," Bishop Jorgensen was warned.
The Relief Society president called Sister Haumesser, but was not welcomed. A few months later, though, the couple had an argument that led to Brother Haumesser calling the bishop to come over, and then stalking out.
"I talked to the bishop alone," said Sister Haumesser. "I felt the Spirit telling me to come back, and I was surprised to hear myself agree to meet with him later in his office."
About the same time, Sister Haumesser's babysitter, Ruth Cline, told her mother about the Haumessers.
Her mother, Vernetta Cline, a recent move-in, felt drawn to Marie, a Hawaiian. "I always latch on to Polynesians, since I am one myself," said Sister Cline, a Samoan.
"We started with sports," she continued. "They both loved volleyball." (The men went on to win the stake championship.)
"A lot of the time we talked on the phone. When she sounded like she was in need of more, I just took the kids and we went to the park. Some times we'd just sit there for hours and talk. It was no big deal," she said. "The kids loved to play with their boys at the park."
As Sister Haumesser began participating in ward activities, "she was not so tense any more," related Sister Cline. "She started laughing. We'd sit and cry sometimes, but afterwards it was good to see her smile. She told me she had started praying again. As she began to come back to Church, her husband also started coming back."
Sister Haumesser remembers that "she never failed me. She stuck with me until her family moved from the ward. I expressed a lot of pent-up feelings. She was always concerned about my feelings and what my day was like.
She invited us to their home for Thanksgiving dinner. She got me involved with meeting more sisters and making more friends. Whenever I was ill, she was always here with a meal, or to offer babysitting. We became more than sisters; we became friends."
Sister Cline and Sister Haumesser put on a luau for the ward, and Sister Cline encouraged her Hawaiian friend to do a hula dance.
"I can't believe I am dancing again," said Sister Haumesser at the time.
Over the next months, she became a nursery leader, visiting teacher, spoke at and helped coordinate a visiting teaching conference. She recently spoke again in sacrament meeting.
In her visiting teaching talk, Sister Haumesser spoke on "teaching heart to heart. Through Vernetta I was really motivated to come back. Her strength really helped me get through."
A few months ago, the Haumessers went to the temple, their first return since they were married.
"I feel like Heavenly Father is really pleased with my progress," said Sister Haumesser. "I feel like His way of saying that He is pleased is to allow me to have these experiences. What I am going through proves you can change your life around. I hope my experience can tell others that you can stop the things you were doing wrong and change your life."
Sister Cline, who is now a member of the Davenport (Iowa) Ward, commented, "Sometimes you just first need to be a friend. When you love people for what they are, love takes over and the spiritual things follow. "