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Lives Touched  by Latter-day Saints Volunteer Carolers

A few days before Christmas, several senior missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Quezon City Mission got together. They decided it would be nice to do a little service to help get into the Christmas Spirit and wanted to spread cheer by going caroling. Little did they know that within 24 hours after returning home that day, they would learn of the extraordinary effect this small act of service had had on all those who participated.
The missionaries started at Hospicio San Jose. They brought with them a few homemade tambourines and shakers to keep time to the music. Beginning with a group of pre-schoolers who were much more excited about using the noise makers than the music, they entertained each other with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

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Next the volunteers met with several Lolas.  These patient Grandmas had been waiting for our arrival.  These sweet little ladies sang, clapped, and laughed. Sister French was the director and fabulous leader and she taught everyone how to sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in sign language! They especially loved “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” They sang every word!

The Mormon missionaries left for the Philippines General Hospital. They weren’t sure who they would get to sing to, but as they arrived amazing things began to happen. In the Psychiatric Ward, at the far end of the hall, the little group began to carol and before long everyone was in the hall singing together. One cute, elderly man began leading us in “Silent Night” with his deep, rich voice.

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The carolers were not prepared for the next stop at the Pediatric Ward. There were at least 30 beds/cribs and isolate units for preemies, all together in one room. As they began to sing “Joy to the World”, a young mama tried to secretly wipe the tears from her eyes. After singing “Jingle Bells” and even “Rudolf” they wandered through the beds to say a personal Merry Christmas to each person. Several asked the missionaries to pray for them, especially one little girl who would have surgery for a brain tumor the week after Christmas.

After the volunteers finally left the wards, they stopped briefly to thank the administration for giving them the opportunity to sing. Caroling through the halls as they left, their final hymn was outside the Chapel. They sang “Silent Night” with a new reverence for life.

The next day Sister French received a phone call from the Philippines General administrator. This is what she was told:

“Twenty minutes or so after you had left the hospital a young father came into my office. He came in and wanted to thank the ‘angels’ that had come to sing in the pediatric ward.  He had a young baby who was in the hospital. For the last 24 hours or so the baby hadn’t opened his eyes. After you sang, the baby opened his eyes and a small smile came across his face. Five minutes after you left, the baby passed away. The father was grateful for the singing and the blessing of having seen his son’s eyes open one last time before he returned home to our Heavenly Father. The charge nurse for the psychiatric ward, was also very grateful for your performance. She said that the singing had a very calming and spiritual effect on the patients. She told me that your group is welcome there anytime.”                           

The hospital administrator has one last story to relate: “Remember when you sang “Silent Night” outside of the Chapel? A woman was in the chapel praying after having a loved one pass away in the hospital. As you sang, a flood of memories came back to her. As a young child she remembered her Lola singing her that song to comfort her. It didn’t matter what time of the year it was, her Lola would sing her that song. Your singing again gave her the comfort that she had felt as her Lola sang to her ‘Silent Night.’ She said that she saw it as a ‘sign’ from her Lola.”

The senior missionaries now have Christmas memories that will be with them all of their lives. They truly felt the love and light of the Savior. Following the admonition of Jesus Christ to serve one another and to love one another, these senior couples who volunteer freely of their time and talents for 18 months to two years, learned first hand that you receive greater blessings when you give than when you receive. No gift during this holiday season meant as much as the peace and joy they felt after giving of their time to sing to those who needed their Christmas songs.

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