Shining Moment: My Syrian Sister

Contributed By Stephanie H. Olsen, Red Rock Stake, Nevada

  • 18 July 2017

A Syrian mother holds her child.

“No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In a general conference talk in October 2011, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the time when his family fled East Germany. He said he sometimes felt like a little forget-me-not flower, “small and insignificant. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father” (“You Matter to Him”).

My friend was another person who could easily have felt forgotten. She and her family were refugees from Syria, where their house had been bombed when they were out visiting friends. They came to America as refugees. Now, she was in the maternity ward of an American hospital, awaiting the delivery of her eighth child. Her loving husband was across town caring for their other children, and she had only a few friends in the United States. Giving birth in an American hospital was very different from her experience in Syria, and I could see her tears and exhaustion when my daughter and I came to visit her.

I looked into her eyes and wished desperately that I could say something to comfort her, but I did not speak Arabic and she could speak only a few English sentences. My daughter and I went to a corner in the room, and we each offered up a silent prayer asking the Lord to help us know how to comfort our friend.

As our prayer concluded, we both felt impressed to play the hymn “I Am a Child of God.” I pulled out my phone and put the song on repeat. “I am a child of God, and so my needs are great. … Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.” With each word the Spirit got stronger, until it seemed to fill the whole room.

Within a few minutes, my friend became calm and stopped crying, despite the fact that she did not understand what the lyrics were saying. The muscles in her face relaxed, and she closed her eyes. She seemed at peace. As I looked at my friend, I saw her in a different light. She was not just my refugee friend; she was my Syrian sister.

A witness filled my heart that she had not been forgotten by the Lord. She was His daughter. He heard her prayers, He felt her worries, and He had calmed her fears. He knew what she needed at that moment, and He wanted her to feel His love and peace.

In the words of President Uchtdorf, “Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you.”

God’s love knows no bounds.