The evening of June 12 was unforgettable in many ways for Aldo and Nelson Lopez. The night marked both the fulfillment of dreams for the brothers — and a reward for their years of effort and hard work.
First, some background. Aldo and Nelson Lopez are from a humble, large family that livein Asunción, Paraguay. The Church is very important to the two brothers. Both are returned missionaries who have proved willing to serve wherever they are called.
As young men they discovered they had a gift: music. At age 12, Aldo learned how to play the piano. The family did not own a piano, so he practiced whenever he could on the piano at church. Months later he became the ward pianist.
At 14 he hoped to pursue his piano studies at the Municipal Art Institute, but there were many candidates and vacancies were limited. Then someone noted that there were openings in the oboe classes. Even though Aldo had never even seen an oboe, he singed up for the class and followed his strong desire to study music. When he finished high school, Aldo got a job, saved his money and served a full time in Chile Santiago Mission.
Meanwhile, Nelson Lopez, who is seven years younger than Aldo, followed his brother's footsteps. He took oboe lessons at the conservatory, served a mission in the Argentina Neuquén Mission and continued to develop his musical talents.
Developing such a talent was not easy for either of the Lopez brothers.
"Learning to play the oboe here in Paraguay was a sacrifice because it is an instrument that was new and we did not have resources," said Aldo. "Everything we had had been brought from Europe by my teacher Gabriel Graziani, who was from Uruguay and who worked the Asuncion Symphonic Orchestra."
The oboes had been donated by the Japanese government to the Municipal Art Institute and they could be used only at the school. The brothers were not allowed to take them home. Such restrictions limited their our progress.
"After my mission I attended the National Conservatory of Music and, because I was already older, I managed to borrow an instrument. But I had to return it during the summer and I could not practice for three or four months," he added.
Nelson finished his high school studies at the Military Technical School in geographical sciences.
"We could never afford to buy our own instruments, so I had to go after school to the conservatory and practice until 10 p.m. when they closed the building," he said. "Our parents were always supportive, but the economic situation was not good so we had to do it all by ourselves."
Owning their own oboe seemed an impossible dream. The instruments were expensive and the poor economic situation made it impossible. Still they worked to improve their talents. Not having an instrument was not an acceptable reason to stop their professional achievements.
When Aldo returned from his mission, he finished his studies and received a degree as an electronics technician at the University of Asuncion with assistance from the Church's Perpetual Education Fund. Still, he desired to become a professional musician.
He has earned several awards and performs in the National Symphonic Orchestra as second oboe. He also teaches oboe at the National Conservatory, where he teaches musical classes. In 2010, he traveled to Salt Lake City where he performed with the Orchestra at Temple Square.
Nelson, meanwhile, is first soloist oboe at the University del Norte Orchestra. He also teaches oboe in the artistic program "Sounds of the Land" and is the director of the Asuncion Youth Orchestra, guest director of the Asuncion Philharmonic Orchestra and assistant director of the choir of the Municipal Conservatory of Asuncion.
Both brothers were amazingly able to realize such success without owning their own oboes. Their efforts, however, did not go unnoticed. Thanks to a fellow member, Sister Renee Costa, word soon spread among the global musical community about the Lopez brothers. Folks from all around the world joined together, offered their time and efforts, and were able to secure two reconditioned oboes for the talented young men.
During a June 12 devotional in Asuncion, Aldo and Nelson Lopez were presented with their own oboes. Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy — and president of the South America South Area — was in attendance at the memorable event, along with Brother David L. Beck, president of the Young Mens general presidency and one of the brother's key benefactors, Sister Costa.
Both Aldo and Nelson accepted their oboes with tears in their eyes.
"I felt that the Lord had approved of all my efforts and sacrifice when I finally got my own instrument," said Nelson. "I am infinitely grateful to my Heavenly Father for having sent people, angels on earth, who took interest in me and did everything they could so I could have my own oboe."
Aldo added, "I am full of gratitude and I feel blessed for the generosity of all the people that got involved in our story. These instruments will give us the opportunity to improve professionally and in our jobs.
At the fireside, Elder Arnold spoke of the parable of the talent (Matthew 25:14-29). The Lopez brothers, he said, were given a talents and worked hard to multiply that talent far beyond any expectation.
With grateful hearts, the brothers performed a few hymns at the request of Elder Arnold.