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Korea's 'loud boys'--the rest of the story

Some "loud boys" in Seoul, South Korea, spoken of by Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy during the priesthood session of October's general conference, bring to mind the life of one of the presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When Heber J. Grant was a child, his mother tried to teach him how to sing, but he could not carry a tune. When he was 10, a music instructor worked and worked with him and finally gave up in despair. At age 26, when he was an apostle, Elder Grant asked a Professor Sims if he could teach him how to sing. After listening to him, the professor replied, "Yes, you can learn to sing, but I would like to be 40 miles away while you are doing it." He persisted in his efforts to improve and finally, later in life, he began to lose his musical deafness and became a good singer. (See President James E. Faust's address in the priesthood session of the April 2000 general conference.)

President Grant was a living example of one of his favorite quotations: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased" (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-82).

Elder Choi, a counselor in the Asia North Area presidency, recounted in his general conference address a story from his days as a young bishop in Seoul. In his neighborhood were a group of boys, "considered by many to be troublemakers," whom he described as being very loud and rowdy — certainly not the kind of influences he and his wife wanted for their two young sons. These "rowdies" were boys with great potential, it seemed, but with little sense of direction.

Only a few of them were members, but the Church building was convenient, so this fun-loving bunch of boys would gather there frequently just to play and be together. Young Bishop Choi, observing their undisciplined activities and being motivated to help them find a better path, pondered and prayed for guidance. There soon followed a clear vision that if he would spend time with these "loud boys," get them into the Church, and eventually get them to serve missions, it would change their entire lives. So he went to work, determined to persist in doing whatever was required to teach and motivate "his" boys.

Prayers are answered in many ways, including great young missionaries who loved to sing and loved to work with boys — missionaries like Elder Yong Chul Seo, who was transfered into the ward, befriended the boys and started molding these 12 loud, cacophonous voices into "one." In fact, they formed a singing group that they called Hanaro, meaning "to be one." It soon became apparent that merely having the name "One" didn't make hearing them sing a pleasant experience. At the beginning they were really hard to listen to.

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