Love Made a Difference
By Elaine Oborn (c) all right reserved
Once, not long ago, a young man, in a far away land, grew up in circumstances very different from what most of us have known. He lived in an austere environment, where the ethic code reflected the attitude "You do what you have to do." He learned that if he had to tell a lie to get something he wanted, or to avoid harsh punishment, that's what he did.
He learned to Look out for himself, because there was no one else to look out for him. He learned that if he really wanted something, the way he could get it was to steal it. He felt that those in authority over him, were there to be out-smarted, or outwitted. And, because they didn't care about him, if they said no to what he wanted, he would sneak and do it anyway.
There were things he could not learn in that environment. He had many people around him, all the time, but he had not one close relationship with any of them. He had no sibling with whom he could confide; he had no father to set a good example or to fill him with a sense of security; he had no mother to comfort him if he were hurt or to soothe his brow if he were sick. And so he did not learn how to have a relationship with anyone else, because his world was made up of many constituents of one.
He did not learn respect because he was not treated with respect. He did not learn compassion, because he was not treated with compassion. He did not learn to communicate his feelings, because no one took time to listen to him. The only emotion he easily expressed was anger. Then you could see the jugular vein in his neck throbbing.
He did not learn to make choices, because his life had very few choices. What he ate, what he wore, what he did, were mostly dictated for him.
His story does not end there in that cold and impersonal environment. To paraphrase a quote, "When the world shuts a door, God opens a window." And for this young man, the window of opportunity came when he met a man who recognized his worth and wished to take him from that environment and give him a chance for a better life.
The young man of whom I speak is Cezar our adopted son and the best part of his story began the day he left the orphanage in a foreign country and came to live with our family. Don't think that this is a fairy tale, with fluffy clouds and rainbows. It is not. there have been times for him and for us of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. To say it has been a challenge and struggle is an understatement. But the Cezar you see here today is not the same young man that walked into our home in January of 1994. He is a walking example of an individual who has experienced a change of heart.
How do you get through to someone who seemingly has no heart and no feelings? In Cezar's case, it was slow and steady process involving many people -- it took a ward family to accomplish it. It was Sunday School teacher who only said positive things about him, and made him feel that all his comments were worth while. It was patience and understanding shown to him when he dropped a borrowed and very precious serving dish brought from Puerto Rico; the owner very kindly said, "Oh I'll just glue it back together and it will mean even more to me because when I look at all the cracks and chips I'll remember Cezar."
Two wonderful seminary teachers made him love seminary so much that he had 100% attendance for four years although the first year he hardly understood a thing that was said. Another family would call and invite him over and always see that he was included in the Youth activities and later even showed confidence in him by asking him to serve as secretary in the Stake Young Men's Presidency and helped him have a positive experience.
Bishop Martin interviewed him, saw great potential, and encouraged him and another brother talked to him, played golf with him, was his friend, and gave him an opportunity to teach in Sunday School. There are so many to thank to many to mention who accepted him, loved him, and made a difference in his life.
There are others who, like Cezar, hove grown up with challenges which have rendered them "past feeling," who are not capable of understanding God's love, because they haven't felt the love of God's children int heir lives. President Kimball said, "God does love us, and he does watch over us, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. How important it is for us to reach out and love one another."
Cezar made a special friend who was so kind to him that she actually touched his heart, and for the first time I could sense an awakening of new feelings and new sensations that are associated with the term "charity." Almost from that very moment we have noticed a great change come over him. It was like watching a huge block of ice begin to melt. I can't tell you the number of times over that last year Cezar has come bounding into the kitchen with that big booming voice of his and said, "Mother, I don't know what's come over me. This is not me!" and then he would relate an incident in which he rendered a small act of kindness.
I feel privileged to have witnessed this miracle in his life. The miracle of which I speak is the powerful and changing influence of love. When Cezar came out of the orphanage, he was not ready to hear the gospel. It took many years of receiving kindness, love, and understanding to prepare his heart to be touched by the Spirit.
Alma 5:7 - "Behold, he changed their hearts; he awakened them out of a deep sleep and they awoke unto God."
1 John 4:8 - "He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love."
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of love. As members of the Church, we need to reach out to others, to care for them, to prepare the soil in another soul in which a gospel seed might be planted.
I have watched first-hand as the power of love has slowly but surely wrought a change in Cezar's heart until, as is said in Alma 5:7, "he awoke unto God," and now he desires to serve a mission.
How grateful we are for a ward of brothers and sisters who live the gospel of love, and for reached out to our son, and made a difference in his life.
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