A Song for Ryan
It was the kind of Saturday that makes me appreciate the warm coziness of staying in bed. But this luxury was not to be. The annoying sound of my pager alerted me to a fire at a nearby cement plant, so I threw on my equipment and headed for the door, thankful my helmet would cover my messy hair. Vanity had taken a backseat ever since I joined our small town’s fire department and then became an emergency medical technician (EMT).
The cement plant fire was soon contained. But our pagers went off again, this time asking for EMTs to respond to a freeway injury accident involving a four-year-old boy. I knew this would be difficult, so my partner and I immediately began to pray. No EMT can truthfully say he or she is not affected when caring for seriously injured children.
We arrived to find a white van upside down in the median. I quickly looked around for our patient, thinking perhaps he was still in the vehicle. But I was called to the opposite side of the freeway where several people were huddled over the small form of a child. One man was a doctor. He gave me a rundown of the boy’s most serious injuries, then disappeared into the crowd. A woman was holding the child’s hand and reassuring him. I asked if she knew his name. “His name is Ryan,” she said. “I am his mother.” Remarkably, she and two older children were unhurt.
EMTs follow certain protocols to ensure the best care for patients, but none of these procedures can prepare us for the human suffering we must deal with when responding to horrifying accidents. I remember reviewing my training in my mind but also feeling overwhelmed. My little patient was crying, and I wanted to calm his fears, kiss his hurts away, and promise his frightened mother that he would be all right. My hands went through the routines I knew so well, but I felt so inadequate, so alone. My partner was not able to assist me with Ryan because he was caring for the little boy’s father, who was still trapped in the van.
Ambulances soon arrived. I was assigned to stabilize Ryan’s head on the way to the hospital. I knelt above his head and spoke softly to him, but he continued to cry and thrash about. I worried that he might injure himself further, but restraining him would have caused other problems.
At this point my prayers became more fervent, and I asked Heavenly Father to bless me to know how to comfort and calm Ryan and ease his pain. I immediately received an impression: “Sing to him.” I hesitated. I questioned whether I had understood correctly. After all, I was a professional, and what would it look like to have an EMT singing in an ambulance over a critically injured patient?
Ryan cried out, and again I received the distinct impression: “Sing to him.” As I held his head I quietly leaned close to his ear and started singing, “I am like a star shining brightly, Smiling for the whole world to see” (“I Am like a Star,” Children’s Songbook, 163). As I sang, Ryan became quiet. I sang “I Am a Child of God” and many other Primary songs. I realized Ryan was a Latter-day Saint when I noticed his very distraught mother trying to sing with me. More than once the paramedics became concerned because he was too quiet, but Ryan would respond as asked. I continued singing all the way to the hospital and into the emergency room, where the trauma team took over his care.
Later that day I returned to the hospital to check on Ryan and his father. I learned that Ryan had undergone surgery and was now stabilized and doing well. Even though he and his father would require a lengthy hospital stay to recover, I was grateful for the news. Ryan and I soon became good friends, and I still look forward each year to receiving a Christmas card with Ryan’s picture inside.
I will always remember an answered prayer when my little patient quieted instantly in response to songs he loved, songs that reminded him of how much his Heavenly Father loves him. The effectiveness of emergency medicine is truly a marvel, but the beauty and simplicity of a few Primary songs will forever remain in my memory as a gentle and profound miracle.
Not Just Another Business
Although my husband and I came from families with religious and moral principles, we were not satisfied with the way our own family of five was progressing spiritually. I attended the same church we had been reared in, accompanied by our three children—Beverly, Janice, and Ralph. My husband, Raúl, didn’t go to church because he thought that all churches were businesses. He thought they were highly commercialized and that many of the leaders profited from the members’ donations. He also believed religious literature should not be purchased but should be given to people who are interested in it.
In February 1986 my husband chanced to see two Latter-day Saint missionaries walk by our house, and he called them over. His intent was to ask them if the church they represented was interested in buying a lot to build a meetinghouse on. My husband is in the real estate business, so he saw this meeting as a sales opportunity.
The missionaries were not able to give him any information on that matter, but they didn’t miss this chance to ask him if they could set up an appointment for a discussion about the restored gospel. My husband was certain this was just another church like all the others he had come in contact with before, so he asked them to come back the next day. He intended to show them that their church just used God to do business.
We received the missionaries the next day with a bit of suspicion. But as they proceeded to talk to us about the Church and its history, we began to feel something very special in our hearts. When they left they gave us copies of the Book of Mormon, and my husband asked how much he owed for them. To his surprise, the books were free. His surprise was even greater when he realized that this Church was not a business. He became interested and started asking the missionaries all kind of questions.
We went to church every Sunday after that, and by 15 July 1987 our whole family had become converted. We were baptized and later were sealed for eternity as a family in the temple. Our son, Ralph, served as a full-time missionary and later married in the temple. Our two daughters have married returned missionaries in the temple, and we now have nine beautiful and healthy grandchildren.
My husband and I have served in many callings in the Church and have continued to grow spiritually and to help the gospel grow in our branch, located in the southern part of our beautiful isle of enchantment, Puerto Rico. My husband has presided over the Salinas Branch twice. The work has been hard, but we know that our example as a branch has left many seeds scattered over our little town.
What more could we ask of our Heavenly Father? Our gratitude is eternal. What started as a simple sales conversation and an effort to prove the Church was a business came to be the greatest possible celestial transaction for our family—the opportunity to be united with each other, with our Savior Jesus Christ, and with our Heavenly Father.
Guided to Church
I grew up in Mongolia and believed in Buddhism. But one day a friend came to my home. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She talked to me about Jesus Christ and invited me to attend her church. I didn’t listen to her. She came again, but still I didn’t listen.
A few weeks after her visit I had a dream. In the dream a voice told me to go to church. I asked, “What? What church? I don’t understand.” The voice gave me directions on how to get to church. I was told, “Tomorrow morning go to this church. When you enter, two missionaries will be there to meet you.”
When I woke up the next morning, I was confused. “Who had come to me in a dream? Who had talked to me?” I wondered. But I decided to go to church.
I followed the directions and found the church. At the door were two missionaries to meet me. They shook my hand and invited me to attend the meeting. The members were nice, and everyone smiled. I felt very happy.
After sacrament meeting the missionaries invited me to hear the discussions. I said yes.
When Elder Johnson and Elder Sampson taught me the first discussion, I was confused, but they explained everything again. They had powerful testimonies. I asked many questions, and the elders always answered me. They read the scriptures with me and invited me to pray about what they had shared with me. Then they left my home.
I felt happy. I decided to ask God if what I was learning was true. I knelt down and prayed, “If God lives and loves me, if Jesus Christ lives, and if this Church is true, let me feel the Spirit.” After I prayed, my heart felt so good and so comfortable. I felt like I was flying. I felt the answer come to my heart: “God lives. He loves you! Jesus Christ lives. Do not be confused. This is the only true Church.” I knew this was the Holy Ghost testifying of the truth. I had received my answer from God.
Two days later the missionaries returned to my home. I told them about my feelings and that I wanted to be baptized. I was so happy I jumped up and down. During the next three weeks, the elders taught me the rest of the discussions, and I was baptized.
I know that God lives and that He loves us. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon and know it is the word of God. I served as a full-time missionary in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the United States. I loved my mission. This is the Lord’s work. I am so grateful I was guided to the true Church of Jesus Christ.