Monday, June 7, 2010

Sweet Lessons Learned

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to play the piano in the care center branch of our stake. The "kids" who are residents there are severely physically and mentally challenged, and they are angels. They are also noisy; some are slobbery; many are smelly. But they are all sweet.

One of them, who cannot speak clearly, stood up to share his testimony. He reached out his hand for me to help him. The branch presidency all looked a little panicked, as he pushed them away and continued to reach for me. I stood to help him, and I kept my hand on his back the whole time. I said his testimony for him while he beamed at me and at his friends. It was a tender experience for me, and it touched me deeply. President Harmon told me later that this man never connects with the women at the care center, but he was quite adamant that I help him.

Sweet lesson learned: You never know when you might be "the one" that someone needs. And you usually don't get a lot of warning.

Another resident put her arm around me while I was still playing the piano and told me that I played beautifully. I thanked her and asked if she ever played the piano. She responded, "Oh, no, but I love to listen to it."

Sweet lesson learned: Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were all genuinely loving to everyone who serves us, even if we know that a particular talent may never be ours in this life?

Another young man--who is quite mentally challenged himself, but who lives in another ward in our stake--has been called to help with the sacrament at the branch. He humbly began the sacrament prayer, and got as far as "we ask Thee in the name" when he made a mistake. There was not even a hesitation from him as he began the prayer again and finished it perfectly.

Sweet lesson learned: We should be humble enough to do the right thing, the right way, right away, just because it's right. And not feel humiliated or embarrassed.

The same sweet young man bore his testimony, and then encouraged another man to do the same. He then took the microphone to a man who cannot speak clearly (but he "sings" every song!). He said, "You wanna bear your testimony, Derek?" Derek made a few sounds and smiled up at Robert who exclaimed, "Good job, Derek! You did it!"

Sweet lesson learned: Sometimes people only need someone's encouragement to prove that they can do something. And we should be able, willing, available, and capable of giving them the acceptance they need.

Later I went to our ward, where I was reminded of these lessons again. But I think we are less tolerant of people who are functioning "normally" (whatever that means). We need to be tolerant, loving, accepting, encouraging, willing, and genuine with EVERYONE.

It's hard sometimes.

If you need a sweet reminder, I can give you directions to the West Jordan Care Center.


Suzie said...

WOW! Thank you for that...what a beautiful post. :)

Amy said...

A place I need to go frequently.