"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
June 18, 2014
Each One Bless One
by Emily S. Jorgensen

This past week I had the privilege and honor of delivering the eulogy for my cousin James, who at a mere 40 years old recently lost his battle with cancer.

As I had limited contact with him in adulthood with his Navy service and living in separate states the rest of the time, I asked his five siblings and mother for some of their favorite memories with their brother and son. The picture of James that began to take shape surprised me a little.

I knew he was a single, never-been-married stalwart member of the Church. I knew he had a gentle soul. What I didn’t know is how much time he devoted to serving children. He usually held callings in the Cub Scouts, starting when he was in high school until the week he passed away.

He reportedly loved helping the younger boys get ready for Scouting proper. Also, he spent every other Saturday tending his niece and two nephews because both parents had to work on those days.

And, had he survived, he was planning on using his new Bachelor’s degree to switch careers and teach middle school math — in my opinion, a job only a saint would be willing to do.

Not many single men spend their energy and time on someone else’s children. It just goes to show that nearly anyone can have a positive impact on a child.

I remember reading once about a mother who had been elected to parliament in her African country. This was when the AIDS epidemic had torn through Africa sufficiently that there were more than one million orphans who had lost their parents to the disease. (Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem today.) Her campaign was simple. Her slogan was “Each one take one.”

She estimated that if each healthy mother in her country took one orphan into her home, the orphanages would be empty. Many mothers answered this call.

I have often thought about this remarkable woman, whenever I ponder if there is a child out there that I am supposed to help that I am not helping.

Obviously, my own four keep me busy, and there are days I despair of taking another into our home lest it drive me off the deep end. Also, I feel my work as a private music teacher has a positive impact on the children and teens I work with, and I find great meaning in that as well.

But, when I think of all the children suffering in the world — young girls sold into sex trafficking, others forced into marriage before they even hit puberty, babies sharing crib space with meth-making supplies, and the slightly more familiar problem of drug-addicted parents who lose their children to Social Services due to abuse or neglect, it makes me a little crazy. It makes me want to do something. Something.

There are times when the only thing I can do is pray to God that He comes soon, as he has promised, and wipes out the wickedness. I never used to understand how anyone could pray for the Second Coming. Who wants to be around during the wars, pestilences, fires, and earthquakes? Are you crazy?

But I do not know what else can save the children. At least, not as a whole.

However, I think you and I can do a lot to save one. Just one child.

One of my relatives cannot imagine why I would even entertain the idea to become a foster parent. And, indeed, my husband and I have decided this is not the right time for us, but we intend to do it someday. This relative asked me, “Why would you want someone else’s messed-up child?” I couldn’t answer that, because it was pretty obvious she would never understand why.

But, after my husband and I decided foster parenting is not something we can handle right now, I started to think about what I could do right now. I talked to the social worker in charge of placing foster children in the area and offered to give free piano lessons to a foster child if she came across one who would really benefit from them. She hasn’t called me yet, but at least I could offer.

The last time our ward had a food drive I included baby food items. I had never done that before, but I realized there was probably a need for it I had never thought about.

I volunteered to host Activity Days at my house while the regular leader left town, to make sure the girls in our ward could still hold their activities.

I think if we are really looking for them, we can find ways we can fit children into our life, regardless of our circumstances. Tending a neighbor’s children, or hosting a playdate, or encouraging our own children to seek out the “loners” at school and befriend them, or sharing the excess of our gardens with the young family down the street are all ways we can bless children’s lives.

We can smile at their silly antics in the middle of church instead of frown at them for disrupting our very serious lives. We can accept callings into the Primary, even if we feel too old or too tired or too bored.

At the very least, we can cultivate within ourselves a love and appreciation for children. It is so pleasant, as a mother, to realize the person in front of me in the grocery line is making funny faces at my toddler instead of rolling his eyes at her annoying whining.

It is lovely when someone holds the door open for me as I try to herd all my children in the same direction at the same time. I feel much safer when driving on a busy road with a car full of children and the street is free from speeding, weaving, crazy drivers.

Thank you out there, to all the people who work to make my children safe, happy, and welcome. Let’s all do more of the same.

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About Emily S. Jorgensen

Emily Jorgensen received her bachelor's degree in piano performance from Brigham Young University. She earned her master's degree in elementary music education, also at BYU. She holds a Kodaly certificate in choral education, as well as permanent certification in piano from Music Teacher’s National Association.

She has taught piano, solfege, and children’s music classes for 17 years in her own studio. She has also taught group piano classes at BYU.

She is an active adjudicator throughout the Wasatch Front and has served in local, regional, and state positions Utah Music Teachers' Association, as well as the Inspirations arts contest chair at Freedom Academy.

She gets a lot of her inspiration for her column by parenting her own rambunctious four children, aged from “in diapers” to “into Harry Potter.” She is still married to her high school sweetheart and serves in her ward’s Primary.

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