Be Still, My Soul

I wasn't super excited about going to church on Sunday. I hadn't slept well (for the fourteenth night in a row) and my kitchen table was covered in fruit, ready to be processed. It's no secret that the last few weeks have been a little rough. And I was thinking that a day at home, to catch up on life, would be nice.

But Rachel sabotaged my plan by getting dressed and ready to go by 9:00 am. (Church doesn't start until 1:00 pm.) And for that, I am thankful. Because church was exactly where I needed to be.

In sacrament meeting, there was a special musical number, sang by a man who isn't in our ward. The words felt like they were being spoken directly to me:

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord;
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

In Sunday School, this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard was read:

"Life isn't always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa-- up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. . . . Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing, 'All is well! All is well!'"

(From LDS conference talk, April 1997.)

And then in Relief Society, Janelle, asked me to share a story I had previously told her about my grandma when she was serving as a missionary in Palestine. (Which I told incorrectly because it's actually about my great-grandma, Bertha Walser Piranian, during the second period of time that she and my great-grandpa served as mission presidents in the area.)

In 1933, my great-grandparents were called to preside over the Armenian Mission with headquarters in Haifa, Palestine. My grandmother was sixteen years old and served with them as the missionary secretary. In 1947, my great-grandparents received a call from President George Albert Smith to re-open the Palestine-Syrian Mission with headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. The mission was later closed in 1950 due to underground Communist unrest. My great-grandparents were then instructed to go to Fresno, California and work with the Armenian people there. In 1953, they were called to the Zurich, Switzerland Mission where my great-grandpa served as the liaison between the Swiss government and the church as the temple was being constructed.

This story was shared by Elder Carlos E. Asay in my great-grandmother's funeral address on November 21, 1966:

"I want to relate just one experience which I think illustrates the choiceness of this fine lady. Laboring in the Near East was not an easy task. It was extremely hard to get good support, and it was extremely hard to convert. When we held our meetings we did not attract a large group of people generally, and there was always the danger of becoming discouraged. One president that labored there in the field said, "Doing missionary work in the Near East was just like trying to tear down Mt. Nebo with a teaspoon, while someone else is on the other side of the mountain building it up with a team of scrapers." But Sister Piranian didn't know the meaning of the word discouragement."

"A short time after the mission was opened, Sister Piranian had scheduled the first Beirut Branch Relief Society Meeting in a hall that we were renting. The word had gone out to the local sisters that the meeting was being held, but most of our sisters lived way across town and it was difficult for them to get there. It was a hot and humid day, one that was better spent in the cool mountains or near the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean Sea. When everything was in order, President Piranian walked his companion to the tram stop and helped her board the rickety public conveyance. He prayed that she would be protected as she made the hour-long trip from one end of the city to the other."

"In the late afternoon, Sister Piranian returned to the mission home looking very weary; however, there was a beaming smile upon her angelic face. Her anxious husband greeted her with his usual kiss and asked, "Mamma how was the meeting?" She responded, "Oh, it was wonderful! There was a beautiful spirit present." Later in the evening we were informed that Sister Piranian was the only person who attended Relief Society that day. No one else came. Nonetheless, she conducted the service with songs, prayers, and lesson, as if a score or more women were in attendance."

. . . . . .

Beautiful words from a hymn, powerful words from a general authority, and an inspiring story about my great-grandmother. . . exactly what I needed to refill my cup and restore the peace in my life.

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side.

1 comment:

Gloria said...

Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing.