This Hymn Story is from an experience of my son, Scott Lockhart, during his mission in Nicaragua, 2008.
"While serving my mission in Nicaragua, my companion and I were teaching a girl named Mariela. She had been reading from the Book of Mormon, but was only willing to meet with us for short periods of time and had not consented to attend church yet. One evening after dinner my companion and I were discussing our appointment that we were going to have with Mariela. We had come to the general conclusion that there was little more that we could do to help her progress if she were to continue to be unwilling to attend church to learn more about our faith. At that moment an idea came to attempt something that I knew I should have already done previously. I carried around with me on a daily basis a ukulele. Before each lesson my companion and I and the investigators would sing a hymn while I played the ukulele. This would usually spark interest and attentiveness in the investigators, as well as invite the Spirit to the lesson. However, we had never once sung a hymn with Mariela. This was mainly because of the fact that she always gave us so little time to share our lessons that we felt it unimportant and irrelevant to her progression. I told my companion that we should sing a hymn to her before this lesson.
Upon arriving at Mariela’s house that evening, before she could tell us about what she had read since the last lesson and then grill us with her difficult questions, we took out the ukulele and a few hymn books and told her that before answering questions or getting into the doctrine, we’d like to start with a hymn. With a look of indifference she said she supposed that would be alright. We gave her a hymn book to follow along and then began to sing, “I believe in Christ”. By the end of the song there was a tear rolling down her cheek. She said quietly, “Elders, I will go to church with you on Sunday”.
Mariela went to church with us that Sunday, and has continued to go every Sunday since. She progressed more and more and eventually committed to baptism. She was baptized and confirmed a member of the church and almost immediately declared her desire to prepare to serve a full time mission. This desire was set aside however, as she began to date Manuel, a returned missionary from the branch she attended. Not too long after my mission I received an invitation to be a witness in the sealing of Mariela and Manuel in the Guatemala City temple. I accepted and was thankfully able to attend and am happy to know that he now serves as a branch president and that she serves the branch faithfully with him. She also played a key role in the conversion of her sister, as well as one of her cousins. She has brought her parents to church and activities as well, and they continue to learn more and more about the gospel.
We can’t expect everyone to understand and accept everything right away about the gospel, and even quite frankly, the important things like the Book of Mormon or the prophet Joseph Smith. By small and simple events, testimonies are born and truth is found. Mariela was able to come to the gospel through music. We are advised by Moroni to ask to know if gospel principles are true. We are also taught that the, “song of the righteous is a prayer unto me”. Song through hymn is a perfect way to come to the knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel. Mariela later wrote a letter to me telling me about how when she was baptized, she didn’t have a true testimony of the Book of Mormon. She told me that she received testimony of the book as she was serving her first calling after baptism as gospel doctrine teacher. The material for that year was based out of the Book of Mormon. Through her weekly study and preparation for the lessons she taught, she was able to come to know that the book was true. There are different ways in which people come to the gospel; it’s our duty to find those ways."