The Gift of Hands


The dedication of the Bountiful Utah Temple will always hold a special place in my heart. My husband and I attended the sacred event with our older children and extended family members. Not long after we arrived, a temple worker asked those assembled if someone could interpret the dedication for a deaf sister.

Immediately my husband and my brother looked at me. They knew that 15 years ago I had served a mission in Indiana, where I first met Edith Cartwright, a deaf woman in one of the wards. I had always wanted to learn sign language and saw an opportunity to do so, along with being able to help Sister Cartwright. I obtained some books from the library on sign language, and on preparation days or when I had spare time I would read and practice. Soon I felt comfortable and somewhat proficient with my new ability. During the years following my mission, while I finished school, married, and worked at raising my six children, opportunities had not arisen for me to use the sign language I had learned—until now.

I agreed to interpret for the deaf sister, feeling both excitement and anxiety. I had an overwhelming desire to help but also a tremendous fear of failure. As I stood to join the sister at the back of the chapel, a young man in front of me touched my arm. He reminded me that with prayer and faith I would have the gift of tongues. His words gave me courage and helped me exercise faith in Heavenly Father.

When I was introduced to the sister for whom I would be signing, I told her how nervous I was and that I hoped I would be able to help. She bowed her head and signed a prayer on my behalf. My husband came to give me a reassuring hug and whispered that he and the children would be praying for me.

Shortly after, another deaf sister joined us. As the dedication began I struggled to keep up. But the two sisters quickly let me know that I was doing fine and that they understood what I was signing. A calming peace washed over me. The words of our faithful Church leaders passed through me and flowed easily through my hands, and I began to sign words I had never learned or signed before. Somehow I knew exactly how to sign the words at the same moment I heard them.

At the close of the dedication, the congregation sang “The Spirit of God” as tears flowed down the two sisters’ faces. Even though they couldn’t hear the song, they could feel the emotion and the Spirit that touched us all.

After the two-hour meeting, I felt like I had run a marathon—and won. I was physically drained but spiritually lifted. I will always be thankful for the faith and prayers that day that strengthened my efforts and helped those sisters feel Heavenly Father’s love and receive His words.

Laura Belnap is a member of the Mueller Park Seventh Ward, Bountiful Utah Mueller Park Stake.