Jetta Pearl Stewart pulled off her bonnet and plopped down on the porch next to Father. “What’s a pearl?” she asked him.
Eight-year-old Jetta knew what a pearl was, but she loved hearing Father’s answer. Like always, Father explained how pearls grow in oysters, layer upon layer, until they become a bright, shiny jewel.
“Pearls shine like you, my little Jetta Pearl,” he said, smiling. Jetta smiled back. She liked being his Pearl.
At dinner that night, Father told Jetta he had an important question for her.
“Ever since you were little, you have had a special way with music,” Father said. “Would you like to learn the piano?”
Jetta’s eyes widened. “Oh, yes!”
“It would mean traveling far away and staying with your teacher for a while,” Mother said. “No one here in Milburn can teach you.”
Jetta’s smile faded. She had never been away from her family for more than a day. And to be far away …
“But it’s important for us to develop our talents, even when it’s difficult,” Father said.
Mother nodded. “You must work very hard,” she said.
Jetta loved music. And she had always wanted to play the piano. Slowly, a smile crept onto her face. “I’m going to play the piano!”
But the next morning, as Jetta watched Father hitch the horses to the wagon, she didn’t feel excited at all. Today she was just scared. She hadn’t expected to be leaving home so soon.
Jetta slowly climbed up into the wagon next to Father.
“You ready, Jetta Pearl?” he said.
She didn’t feel ready, but Jetta nodded. The wagon lurched forward.
After a while, Father glanced over at her. “Do you know how proud your mother and I are of you?”
Jetta nodded. “But what if you need my help at home?”
Father smiled. “We’ll sure miss you, but this is a way only you can help. You’ll be serving Heavenly Father by developing gifts He gave you.”
She hadn’t thought about it like that. Could her musical talent really be a gift from Heavenly Father?
Father continued. “It will take time, but little by little you’ll get better at playing piano. And then you’ll be able to serve lots of people.”
Jetta felt her fear start to fade. She was going to learn the piano and serve Heavenly Father. It would be scary, but she knew that He would help her.
Father winked. “Layer by layer, my little Pearl is getting bright and shiny.”
Just like Father had said, little by little Jetta learned to play the piano. She even learned how to play the organ.
After a few months, Jetta returned home. That Sunday she became Milburn’s very first organist! Her heart raced as she sat at the huge organ the community had worked to buy for her to play. It was so beautiful that Jetta was almost afraid to touch it. She had to sit on a book to reach the keys.
She took a deep breath and started to play. The notes soared across the room, full and beautiful.
Jetta sneaked a peek at the congregation. People were smiling as they sang. Jetta smiled too. Her playing was far from perfect, but she was using her talents to serve.
She remembered Father’s words: “Pearls shine like you, Jetta Pearl.”
Little by little, layer by layer, Heavenly Father was making her into a true pearl.