“Called to Serve,” Friend, Mar. 1997, 2
It sometimes seemed to Adam that not learning the piano was harder than learning it would be. But any struggle, no matter how difficult, would be worth the effort if it proved to his parents that piano lessons were a waste of time.
Now, martial arts lessons—those would be worthwhile. What if he was waylaid on the way home from school by bullies? What if he woke up one day to find himself trapped in some foul dungeon? How would he escape if he hadn’t learned tae kwon do*?
Or, if he had to learn an instrument, drums might possibly be cool enough. Instead he was subjected to Mrs. Turner’s endless urging to “make your fingers like tiny hammers.” Ugh!
So he purposely stumbled over the keys and acted as if he didn’t hear the jangling chords. He had to say one thing for Mrs. Turner—she was patient. She would pat her big white hair and attempt to smile. “That was a good try, dear.”
As for Mom and Dad, they were more determined than he had expected. He’d been taking unwanted lessons for two years. Weren’t they tired of hearing him pound away for half an hour every day but Sunday?
Tick-tick-tick sounded the clock. Three more minutes and practice time would be over.
His little sister, Sarah Kate, clumped her skates down on the bench next to him. “Will you roller-blade with me? Mom says I can’t go down the street by myself.”
“Nope,” Adam said. “I gotta finish practicing.” He brought his hands down with a crash.
“That sounds horrible!” Sarah Kate yelped.
Adam grinned. “Yeah.”
With a sigh, Sarah Kate left him.
Adam’s hands were in midair when the timer buzzed. He slammed down the lid of the piano and raced to the computer to play a game.
When he heard the missionaries’ voices, Adam deserted his game. He liked the elders. Sometimes they threw his football to him, or they played games with him and Sarah Kate. They were fun to tease too. Today, they were sitting at the table with Mom, helping her work on a Primary Sharing Time activity.
“Want to play ball?” Adam asked.
“Not now,” Elder Gilmore said. “Your mom needs us to cut out these circles.”
Adam tried to snatch Elder Presley’s name tag, but Elder Presley wasn’t in a teasing mood. He covered the tag with his hand, so Adam messed up his hair, instead. When that didn’t work, Adam plopped down into a chair. “I could cut some out too.”
Mom smiled. “Good! If you all do that, I can plan the music.” Mom was the Primary president, which in their tiny branch meant she was also the chorister, the secretary, and any teacher who didn’t show up.
Adam wrinkled his nose. “Primary music’s boring ’cause we always have to sing what’s on those tapes.”
Mom shook her head. “We’re lucky to have the tapes. Every day I pray that the elders will baptize someone who can play the piano.”
“We’ll work on it,” Elder Presley said. “You be on the lookout too.”
“I am,” Mom said. “I gave Adam’s piano teacher a Book of Mormon. She’s a wonderful woman, besides being musical. I invited her to church last week, but she didn’t come.”
Adam was unusually quiet as he cut out circles. When he finished, he agreed to skate with Sarah Kate. They skated a long way, but he hardly spoke a word. The rhythmic glide was good for thinking.
At his piano lesson the next week, he pulled out the Children’s Songbook. “Could you help me learn some of these?” he asked Mrs. Turner.
She flipped through the pages. “This is a wonderful book. Where did you get it?”
“It’s our church’s children’s songbook.”
“I don’t know about your learning these songs, though. I’m afraid they’re harder than the ones you’re already having trouble with.”
“I’ll learn them,” Adam said confidently. “I want to work on this one first.” He pointed to “Called to Serve.” It was one of his favorites.
Mrs. Turner shrugged. “All right. But you’ll really have to practice hard.”
“I will,” Adam said. “And can I do it here? Right after school? I kind of want to surprise my mom on Sunday.”
Mrs. Turner agreed, and all that week Adam practiced at her house. He worked on “Called to Serve” for an hour every day. Each night he prayed for help, and by Saturday the notes came fairly readily to his fingers.
On Sunday morning in Primary, Mom started to turn on the tape recorder. Adam stopped her. “I can play ‘Called to Serve’ on page 174.”
He sat down at the piano. There was a shivery feeling in his stomach. How had he thought he could play in front of everybody?
His eyes wandered over the children’s and teachers’ faces—and saw Mrs. Turner! She sat on the last row, a smile on her face!
He gave her a flickery grin and sent up a swift, silent prayer. He felt calmer as his fingers began to play the familiar notes.