'Christmas Spirit' book excerpt: Woman received gift of music one Christmas season

By Michele Ashman Bell

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13 2012 2:05 p.m. MST

Angela had learned early on that David had a special gift. He was very sensitive to the Spirit. He had mentioned to her many times that things in South Africa were changing for the worst. He had served in the military and knew the communist influence was a growing force. Black oppression, friction between tribes, and white supremacy added to the turmoil percolating in the country.

Their first child, a son named William, was born in March the following year. He was a strong, healthy baby, and both Angela and David knew they wanted him to have every chance and every blessing life had to offer. As conditions in South Africa worsened, they knew their choice to leave was the right one, but it certainly wasn’t an easy one.

They both worked many long, hard hours to save their money. They lived on Angela’s salary and saved every penny of David’s income they could. But the greatest sacrifice was yet to come.

“Honey, please don’t cry,” David said when they drove away from Angela's parent’s house, leaving her family and her beloved piano behind. “As soon as we get settled and get enough money, we will have it shipped to the States. I promise.”

She wiped at her tears and clutched one hand to her breaking heart, wishing she dared believe him. But deep down, she knew she would never see that piano again.

With William in her arms and two suitcases each, Angela and David left their beloved homeland and flew halfway around the world to their new home. It was the longest flight of her life, and Angela felt as though she’d cried the entire way.

After two years of schooling, David got his associate’s degree and accepted a job in the postal business, which led them to the Salt Lake City area.

With each child they had, their budget got tighter and tighter; still, Angela was determined to save money so she could bring her piano over from South Africa. But her dream of that ever happening was shattered. Her father lost his job and was out of work for more than a year. Her parents had to sell her piano to pay their bills.

Broken-hearted, Angela understood their predicament and knew that her mother wouldn’t have done it if there was any way to avoid it. Not wanting to ruin everyone’s Christmas, Angela managed to stay strong around her family, but at night, in her prayers, she let her tears fall.

Then David’s health began to fail.

Problem after problem seemed to arise, and soon medical bills began to pile up. Feeling as though she were destined to never have a piano of her own again, she gave up hope and buried her expectations and dreams underneath a pile of disappointment.

Nearly 20 years had passed since they’d left South Africa. Because of the conditions and the political unrest, Angela never doubted that they’d done the right thing in leaving their beloved country. Violence and war were rampant, and she was grateful for the freedom and peace they had in the United States.

Angela worked long, hard hours, feeling the heavy burden of providing for the family. Trying hard to bring the spirit of the season into her home, she found the strength one Saturday to pull out the Christmas decorations. With those up and a few gifts provided by their LDS ward, Angela felt peace in knowing it would be a meaningful Christmas.

With only a few days to go, Angela needed some groceries. Her boss at work had given her a gift certificate for a turkey, so she stopped at the grocery store to buy what she needed for a nice Christmas dinner.

Cautiously, she drove home along the snow-packed road with a prayer of thanks that there wasn’t a lot of traffic at the moment.

She slid on a couple of turns, and the car fishtailed slightly as she drove up the hill, but she made it safely to her house.

When she stepped through the gate toward the front door, she let out a startled yelp. Then she dropped the bags of groceries in her arms and burst into tears.

Sitting there in front of her was a beautiful, spinet piano with a giant red bow on top.

She stood there as snow fell and sobbed.

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