'Christmas Spirit' book excerpt: Woman received gift of music one Christmas season
Editor's note: Michele Ashman Bell's friend has given her permission to anonymously share this story and names have been changed. It is an excerpt from "Christmas Spirit: A Collection of Inspiring, True Christmas Stories."
Nine-year-old Angela’s mouth dropped open as she stared at the exquisite Bernstein piano in the music store showroom. The smooth finish of the deep brown wood with reddish tint reflected the lights overhead. It was the most beautiful piano she had ever seen.
“Honey,” her mother said, “did you hear Daddy? The piano is yours. We signed the contract.”
She couldn’t speak. Couldn’t breathe. If every dream she’d ever dreamed, every wish she’d ever wished, and every hope she’d ever dared to hope for had happened all at the same time, she never would have even dared expect something this wonderful to happen.
She burst into tears and fell into her father’s arms. Then she turned to her mother and held out her arms. With a giant squeeze, her mother gathered the weeping child to her chest and held her close. “I take it you like it?” she teased.
Angela continued to cry and hug her parents, feeling as though she’d died and gone to heaven. She couldn’t imagine another day ever being as wonderful as this day was.
Great preparations were being made for stake conference in their little town in South Africa. A visiting general authority was attending this year, then-Elder Thomas S. Monson. Angela accompanied the stake choir, which was preparing to perform Beethoven’s “Hallelujah Chorus” for a final closing number. ...
Before the closing prayer, Elder Monson rose to the pulpit and complimented and thanked the choir and the accompianst.
It was about this same time that the prophet President Spencer W. Kimball announced that the Lord had revealed all worthy male members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could hold the priesthood. For members living in South Africa during the time of apartheid, the news came as a shock but also a joyous and blessed event.
Soon after she turned 20, Angela met a young returned missionary named David Wells. It didn’t take long for either of them to realize they were in love and wanted to get married.
Because there were no Mormon temples in South Africa yet, they got married civilly in South Africa, then chose the temple in St. George, Utah, to get sealed. David had become close to a companion, Elder Michael Wright, from St. George, and Elder Wright had offered to help them with the arrangements.
Going to the United States turned out to be a fortuitous event in their lives. In the airplane on the way home to Africa, David shared his thoughts with Angela.
“I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying, and I feel strongly that we should immigrate to the United States.”
Angela looked at her husband in shock, trying to process the magnitude of what he was suggesting.
“But South Africa is our home. All of our loved ones are there. How can we move so far away and leave it all behind?”
“I understand. It isn’t easy for me either. But while we were in the temple, I felt strongly prompted that we should do this.
"I've pondered and prayed, and I know in my heart it is right.”
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