Liahona
A Gift of Testimony and Love
previous next

Digital Only: Portraits of Faith

A Gift of Testimony and Love

I feared that Brother Bravenec’s musical testimony had come to an end, but then I saw him slowly make his way to the organ.

Ed Bravenec

Photograph by Carter Hydrick

“While of these emblems we partake,”1 we began to sing. I wished we were singing a little faster, but I focused on the ordinance.

A calm came over me, settling my soul. The tone and meter of the organ were exactly appropriate to prepare us for the sacrament.

I looked with gratitude at our organist as he reverently swayed with the music. I thought back to our first meeting eight years earlier. Just a few months before we met, wildfires had destroyed Ed Bravenec’s home, along with most of his family’s possessions. As the missionaries and I shared a gospel discussion in his new mobile home, Brother Bravenec told us he played the organ.

“I play to express my testimony and love of God,” he said. Then we talked about whether he might play for our ward should he join the Church.

I looked at the ends of his fingers. A couple of them had been amputated. I was inspired by his faith, but I wondered about his capacity to play.

“I know that the Church would be grateful for you to share your gifts,” I said.

Brother Bravenec was satisfied with my response, and we went on to enjoy a good lesson and the beginning of a firm friendship. He was soon baptized and, as he had desired, became our ward organist.

Over the years since his baptism, I have watched as his health challenges led to the amputation of one of his toes. Not long after that, Sister Bravenec, who returned to Church activity when her husband became a member, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Then Brother Bravenec lost another toe.

We missed him for a few weeks as he cared for his wife and struggled through his ordeal. But soon he returned to church, sharing his testimony through the beautiful strains of the organ.

In 2019, Brother Bravenec learned that he would lose one of his legs. I was sad for him, thinking that his years at the organ had come to an end. But a few weeks after the surgery, Brother Bravenec hobbled into church on his new prosthetic leg.

Using canes to keep his balance, he slowly made his way to the organ. There, he sat on the organ bench, removed his prosthetic limb, and began playing the prelude music. A few minutes later, he played the opening hymn. Now it was time for the sacrament.

“In Jesus’ name and for his sake,” we sang—tone and meter perfect.