The gym was quickly filling up with people when a hush came over the once-noisy room. The choir from the Czech Republic started to file onto the stage.
I sat forward in my chair searching for the red-haired girl whom Mr. Lauritzen, my choir director, had described to me a few minutes earlier.
“There is a Latter-day Saint girl in the choir,” he had said. “She has red hair and her name is Iva.” I had signed up to host someone from the choir at my house for the night, and once I had heard about Iva, I immediately wanted her to stay with me.
I soon discovered a few red-haired girls in the choir, but one stood out to me. She was on the front row, and somehow I felt that she was Iva.
“What is your name?” I asked the girl after the program.
“Iva,” she said.
“Hi, my name is Cindy.” I paused not knowing what to say next. “Would you like to stay with me?”
“No, I am sorry. I am staying in the dorm.”
I felt bitter disappointment. I had to think quickly because there was no way that she was staying in that dorm if I had anything to do with it.
“I’m a Latter-day Saint!” I blurted desperately.
She looked at me in shock. “You are? Well, then I want to stay with you,” she said excitedly.
She was the only Latter-day Saint in her choir, and I understood how she felt because I am the only Church member in my school. Since there are not very many Latter-day Saints in either the Czech Republic or in my hometown, Collegedale, Tennessee, the chances of her staying with an LDS family were very slim. It was not even likely for us to meet.
Iva chattered away in her own language to her friends, explaining to them that she wanted to stay with me.
She turned to me regretfully and said, “It’s too late. The girl that I needed to talk to has already left.”
Once again, something came in the way of her staying with me. I was not about to give up. After I said a silent prayer, I turned to my choir director for help.
“Mr. Lauritzen, Iva was staying in the dorm, and now she says that it is too late for her to stay with me.”
“Well, I know how to fix this. Iva, why don’t you talk to your conductor?”
After Iva’s conversation with her conductor, she smiled at me. “It is fine. I can stay with you.”
I blew out a sigh of relief as we headed toward the exit. As I drove the short distance to my house, Iva told me something.
“While I was still in the Czech Republic, I prayed that I would be able to stay in a Latter-day Saint family’s home. I cannot believe that I am really doing this.”
We arrived at my home at 11:00 P.M., and my mom met us at the front door. “Mom, this is Iva.” I paused, “She’s a Latter-day Saint.”
“I can’t believe what you just said,” my mom replied as if she were in a dream.
“I am so glad to be able to stay in your home,” Iva said with gleaming eyes.
“It’s nice to have a Church member stay with us,” my mom added.
Iva agreed as they embraced.
Later, when we had snuggled underneath the soft covers of the twin beds in my room, Iva pulled out her Czech Book of Mormon.
“Iva, I have an idea. Why don’t you read from your Book of Mormon aloud while I follow along in my English one.”
Iva seemed to like the idea and soon the room was filled with the sound of her soothing voice speaking in the tongue so foreign to me. Soon after we put up our books, we fell asleep.
Iva left early the next morning. Her choir was headed for Memphis. I do not know if we will ever see each other again, but we will keep in touch. Iva and I were almost complete strangers brought together by shared beliefs. Although we were with each other for too short a time, I know we will always be friends and I will never forget her or the blessing that she brought into my life.