Today we could see that we made a difference! The first of our piano students played the keyboard for two hymns in church today. Everyone was beaming with pride—especially her father, who was surprised when she went to the keyboard. (Yes, we were beaming and even a little teary too.) We have another student who will be ready to play in another branch next week—and another who is scheduled for the week after that. We are confident that by the time we leave Granada at the end of the year, all four branches will have several pianists who are playing from the simplified hymnbook. The most advanced of our students will also be able to keep the eight keyboards that we are using if they will agree to play for church and teach others to play.
This is not only a great boon to the quality of music in the worship services and primary classes; it is also a marvelous opportunity for young people who don’t have a lot of resources. Today when I was setting up a time to meet with one of our best teen-aged students, the oldest of seven children, I learned that she does not have the financial resources or legal paperwork to attend school. What a blessing it is for her to have English and keyboard lessons from us several times each week!
We don’t always know that we are making any difference, but we sometimes do get formal training opportunities. Next week Ellen is presenting a 30 minute district Relief Society session on how to teach a lesson. The norm here is for people to open the book and start reading as fast as they can. They stop, and the meeting ends when they get to the end of the chapter, whether that requires 20 minutes or 75 minutes. There is no discussion, application, or real learning taking place. Meanwhile, Frank has spent a lot of time meeting with leaders of the young men’s organization. Today a branch president actually borrowed our ever-handy Handbook of Instructions for Church Administration to explain the purposes of the Young Men’s program to the young men.
We walk a fine line, wanting to influence and instruct leaders and members, but not having administrative authority over them and not wanting to undermine their sense of competence and responsibility. Gradually we are getting credibility and worming our way into the hearts of the people, whom we are coming to love like family.