Having Ears to Hear

    “Having Ears to Hear,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 65–66

    Having Ears to Hear

    As the fireside in the English town of Hull began, I stood on the stand in the chapel along with seven other missionaries to perform an evening of sacred music. Our mission president and his wife had chosen specific pieces of music and put them together with narration to teach about our purpose on earth and Christ’s role in that purpose. We hoped the music and words would give an introduction to the gospel for those who knew little about it and reaffirm the testimonies of those who already believed.

    While we sang, I looked at the audience and noticed an elder seated with some hearing-impaired investigators, signing the words of the music to attentive eyes. Another elder who was performing with the choir, Elder Adams, had met them on the streets of a small town in north Lincolnshire earlier that day. Elder Adams had a limited British Sign Language vocabulary and conveyed that he and his companion were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He asked them simple questions that he could sign, and they were receptive to what he had to say. Among them was a young man named David.

    Elder Adams invited the group to our fireside that evening, and they expressed an interest in attending. He gave them the address, promised to meet them at the door, and sent them on their way, intending to hand the referral to the missionaries assigned to work with the deaf. Later, he wondered why he had thought to invite people who could not hear a musical program, especially when they lived 45 minutes away. He doubted he would see them again.

    But there they sat, on the front row, while an elder signed the words to the music. As the evening progressed, David often shifted his attention from the interpreter to those of us singing. I felt the music swell with conviction as we sang about our premortal life with a loving Heavenly Father, our birth and purpose on earth, and our eternal potential. The Holy Ghost enveloped us in a sublime climax as Sister McCulloch sang about our Savior’s hands while Sister Horman, who was also hearing impaired, signed the words for the entire congregation.

    When the music ended, teary-eyed listeners came to the stand to thank us, and I saw Sister Horman and Elder Adams huddled with the hearing-impaired investigators. Later I was told that Sister Horman signed to David, “What did you think of our presentation?” He signed back that he actually knew what the people were singing about, he just knew. He pointed to his chest repeatedly: “I knew.”

    In British Sign Language, knew is conveyed by pointing to the head, not the heart. The missionaries asked him to explain. David said he could not explain, he just knew, still pointing at his chest. The missionaries understood. They explained that what he felt was the Holy Ghost testifying to him about the Savior’s message. Then they invited him to have the missionary discussions and feel more of that same testifying Spirit.

    David accepted and, after receiving the first lesson, agreed to baptism.

    This experience reaffirmed to each of us who sang that evening that music is a powerful medium by which the Holy Ghost can enter into hearts and testify of the Savior—even without ears to hear.