“A Spirit of Peace during Difficult Times,” Ensign, July 2006, 36–37
My family joined the Church in 1977, when I was 11 years old. At that time a violent civil war was beginning in our native land of El Salvador. The political situation was serious, and there were constant armed confrontations between the army and the rebels, forcing the government to order a curfew of 6:00 p.m. for all citizens. There was no freedom of assembly or freedom of speech, and we felt threatened by both the army and the rebels.
These events caused many people to look for ways to emigrate to wherever they could. My family was no exception. My father accepted an offer of employment in Venezuela, hoping he could get us out of danger. For a time my mother was left as the head of our household.
The war made it a difficult time for the Church. The same flight that took my father to Venezuela took the last 15 missionaries out of El Salvador. This meant the end of any chance to receive the messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ for a long time.
At the end of 1979 we and other members of the Church, especially the youth, began doing missionary work of our own. We organized small choirs and sang in the streets to give people hope. By doing this we found many people wanting to learn about the gospel.
Meanwhile we learned to live in danger. Whenever the confrontations or shelling occurred, we threw ourselves on the floor and hoped it would all be over soon. Mama would cover us with our mattresses for protection. What brought peace to us in these difficult moments were the hymns. Lying on the floor, we would hold our hymnbooks, and Mama would encourage us to sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30), “How Firm a Foundation” (no. 85), “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (no. 26), “High on the Mountain Top” (no. 5), “O My Father” (no. 292), “I Stand All Amazed” (no. 193), and many other hymns that comforted us in our adversity. We often cried from the stress, but singing the hymns gave us the courage to face such a terrible situation.
Some time later Papa succeeded in bringing us to Venezuela, where we began a new life. We thanked our Heavenly Father for keeping us together and alive. Through this experience, I learned that the hymns invite a spirit of peace during difficult times.
Ana Gloria Hernández de Abzuela, Venezuela