While some might see her "handicap" as a challenge, Mary Grace Gallekanao has come to look upon it as God's purpose. When you listen to her playing the piano, you are left with no doubt that she's been given a divine gift. It's there to inspire others.
|Mary Grace Gallekanao (Photos by John G. Miller)|
She was born in the Philippines. She has a stub for a right arm, her right leg is smaller -- eight inches shorter -- than her left. She wears a platform orthopedic shoe on her right foot to help her walk normally. She has said she had a very difficult time growing up because of how she looks, asking why she doesn't have a right hand like everyone else, asking herself what she did to deserve being born that way.
But Mary Grace went on to college and earned a degree in psychology, finding friends there for the first time in her life. Perhaps her greatest gift -- which was displayed Saturday at the Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in Salt Lake City -- is on the piano. It is there where her "handicap" becomes not an example of an imperfection, but an example of a grand design. On the piano, she plays the melody of complex pieces of music with what she calls a fleshy protrusion at the tip of the stub that is the perfect size to fit one key. She plays chords with her left hand, crossing over when the chords are in the higher keys.
The speed and dexterity that's demanded in the music she plays does not suffer. She can interpret music with a master's touch.
"If the stub were any longer or shorter, it would be hard for me to play the piano," she told her audience Saturday. "I know that I was created for a purpose. Each and every one of us is special in the Lord's sight."
Mary Grace said there have been several people who wanted to introduce her to the world, she could have made a lot of money with her talent and have anything she wanted. But, she added, there were two conditions: she could not mention anything about God in her performances, nor the two ministries she is so passionate about (Help-the-Needy Inc., and Adopt-a-MinisterInternational). They only wanted her to talk about herself and what she can do.
"I had to turn them down because I know it's not about me now. It's about God," she said. "And it's not about what I can do, but what God can do through me.
"The Lord has blessed me more than money could ever hope for."
Mary Grace has given concerts around the world -- in Guam, Europe, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Canada, and the United States.
She ended her talk with some words of inspiration.
"Surrender our lives and He will surely work wonders. I hope that, no matter what's going on around us, we would always focus our eyes on the cross, and one day -- when all is said and done -- we could say we have run the race, we have finished the course, we have kept the faith."