Two weeks ago I had a life-changing conversation with one of our piano students. For me, it changed my perspective on what we are accomplishing here, and for her, I think it may have been pivotal in her decision to participate in the Church.
One of our most gifted pianists is a girl of about 15 who came to piano lessons with her father, who is a member of the church. She is one of the sweetest and most generous girls we know. At the end of the first hour, when we ask if someone can give up their teclado so that another student can have a lesson, she will be the first to jump up and offer her keyboard to another. Then she will stay and help other students with their notes, or sing with them while they practice playing a hymn. (We have a hard time helping 8 people at once.) She comes into lessons smiling and chatting with everyone, and she is like a ray of sunshine in the room.
Two weeks ago, she was ready to accompany hymns in church, and we scheduled her to play the opening hymn. Of course she was nervous, and even wondered if it was OK for her to participate when she isn’t a member of the church, but we assured her she was ready and welcome. She was at church early Sunday morning and ready to play her song, when a well-meaning, but notoriously outspoken woman told her she wasn’t dressed appropriately and asked, “How would you feel if Jesus were here?” Our dear little friend was crying when she found me to say that she couldn’t play the piano and told me about the conversation.
I looked her in the eye, and I said, “If Jesus were here, he would say, ‘A—, my precious daughter, I love you. I’m so glad you are here in my church today. Thank you for serving me and the members of the Church by playing the piano and bringing music and my spirit into the meeting.’ And you would feel His overwhelming love. That is how you would feel if Jesus were here. I love you, and Jesus loves you even more. If He were here, we would both feel His overwhelming love.” I told her again that I loved her, and she said, “I know.” I think we both felt the Savior’s love at that moment, and she somehow found the courage and loving support to stay and play the piano perfectly. She comes back to every lesson, and helps everyone feel her great love.
Since that day, I have remembered the many loving teachers who stepped in to rescue my own children at times of crisis—caring young women or young men’s leaders, my brother, a bishop, or a primary class teacher who took extra time to serve and encourage a child just when they needed extra support. I realized that just as my family has been blessed one person and one conversation at a time, we have the time and focus here to bless and support individuals one person at a time.
Since arriving in Granada 8 months ago, we have sometimes been disappointed that we have not seen leaders take our suggestions for programs or policies we have thought it important for them to implement. But we are starting to realize that perhaps we are doing the “member and leader support” we were sent here to do by making individual visits, having conversations, or giving piano lessons that may change individual lives and attitudes for years to come—one person at a time.
We feel a great responsibility wearing the Savior’s name on our name tags. If we can help others to feel His overwhelming love, then perhaps we will be found to be worthy representatives of Him here.
Thank you to all who tell us that you pray for us. And thank you for all who give a little extra love to our kids and grandkids in our absence!