Elaine Shoekel was born in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1927. She grew up in East London on the coast of the Indian Ocean and was raised by parents whose roots were from Germany, England and Ireland.
When Elaine was fourteen years old, her mother passed away, leaving a family of three children: Elaine, fourteen, her brother Neville, ten, and her two-year-old sister, Beryl. Her father wanted to keep all his children together, so Elaine, as the oldest, helped raise her younger siblings.
When she was nineteen years old, Elaine met Melvin Jubber, who had recently returned from serving in Italy during World War II. Melvin’s family had been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for three generations. Elaine, on the other hand, had been raised a member of the Church of England. Initially she felt wary of Melvin’s church.
Soon after they began dating, Melvin invited Elaine to his home one evening. At that time, the South African mission president and his wife were touring the mission and staying at Melvin’s home. There Elaine was introduced to President June B. Sharp. She had very little knowledge of the teachings of the Church. He mentioned a few Church beliefs, particularly marriage for time and all eternity. He looked at his wife and said, “You see that lady? We’ve been married for thirty two years, and I am getting kinda used to her.” This impressed Elaine who had always felt very strongly about the importance of marriage and family life.
Elaine began attending some church meetings with Melvin. Gradually this became more frequent, even though she still had no intention of joining the Church. As Elaine learned more and more, she realized that the teachings of the Church represented a perfect life pattern and she wanted this for her children. Elaine also realized that their children would more likely follow the Church’s teachings if she did as well, so she was baptized on March 7, 1952 (Melvin’s 29th birthday) in the Nahoon River, just outside of East London. At that time they had two little boys, Vernon, two years and Gary, just six weeks.
Elaine’s sister Beryl would often spend time in their home and would sometimes attend church services with them. One day a missionary suggested to Melvin that Beryl should be baptized. Melvin felt reluctant to suggest this to Beryl’s father and asked that the missionary talk to him directly. So the missionary, Elder Wayne Mendenhall, did. Elaine’s father responded positively and said that if Beryl wished to be baptized, he had no objections. Beryl was baptized just following her fourteenth birthday also in the Nahoon River with her father present at the baptism.
Two weeks later, their father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. It was only after his death that the family recognized how Elder Mendenhall had been inspired in taking up the matter with Beryl and Elaine’s father.
At that time, Latter-Day Saint congregations in South Africa were very small. Elaine remembers a few occasions when she, her husband and the two missionaries were the only members present for Sunday evening sacrament services. The meetings were held in a local hall and it was common on a Sunday morning to sweep the floor and pick up bottles from a dance the previous night.
Elaine wanted her children to have the opportunity to participate in all the programs that the Church offered. Melvin had grown up attending a large boys’ school in East London and was the only member of the Church in his school. The opportunity to meet and associate with others who believed as he did was very limited. Elaine wanted something different for her children.
“The Church has played an important role in raising my family!“ Elaine says. All of her descendants are active in the Church. Her sons have served missions and each of her children and grandchildren has been married in the temple. Her grandsons and two granddaughters have served missions. Elaine’s posterity continues to turn sacrifices into blessings with hope and faith that by so doing future generations will realize similar blessings.
Elaine’s granddaughter, Brooklyn Mullen, was called to a mission to Portugal and was temporarily in the Canada Vancouver Mission awaiting her visa when she contributed this article.
Elaine Jubber, her sister Beryl and son Vernon reside in the Lethbridge Alberta Stake. Her son Gary resides in Bountiful, Utah and daughter Delcia resides in the Calgary Alberta Stake.