30 September 2012

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree...In China!

I just stumbled across such a lovely story, I've been feeling the need to share it. My blog is called "The World Is A Tile" because its just a tiny, small world we live in. This story kind of illustrates the point.

I work for a very small, local company. You get all the good & bad you do with a small company. The bad, everyone wears numerous (nay, too many) hats. The good, well the people. I get to do what I love (mostly) and all of the people I work with genuinely care for each other. Weird, right? Anyway...recently a few of the ladies took one of the employees out for her birthday lunch. I was overworked and hesitant to go, but my wonderful boss guilted me into going.

As it turns out, the woman whose birthday we were celebrating related one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard. And I feel like it needs to be repeated. Those in the LDS community will be very familiar with the song, "Popcorn Popping On The Apricot Tree." Its a song we learn as little, little kids. We even have hand gestures to go along with it...you know- to make it all the more exciting.

Mrs. Georgia Bello wrote the tune some time in the 1950s. Her nieces and nephews grew up singing the tune long before it became a Primary favorite. She submitted the song to the LDS church for their use. It was a gift, she said. The LDS church copyrighted the song in 1989. I know I sung that song as a little kid, and could still sing it upon demand- hand gestures and all.

As a bit of a personal back story, Mrs. Bello did not have the easiest life. She was adopted, and faced familial challenges. She was by no means wealthy or a woman of "worldly" stature. One day, the LDS church phoned Mrs. Bello. A representative of the church explained the Chinese Government had requested permission to distribute the song to ALL of the schools in China. The representative went on to explain the church would relinquish rights of the song in order that Mrs. Bello could reap the financial benefits of such a transaction. Her immediate response: Nope. I gave the church the song, and it belongs to you. Smiles are all the payment I require.

The church representative persisted. "Mrs. Bello," he explained, "We are talking about millions upon millions of distributed copies of your song. The royalties would be very significant and we would like to return the rights to you." Mrs. Bello's response was again swift and sure, "No thank you. Please do with the song as you wish." When pressed as to what the church should do with monies made from the song's royalties, Mrs. Bello only asked the church do "something good" with money.

Mrs. Bello never spoke of this. Most people just knew her as an employee at a local music store. Some knew she had written the beloved Primary song. She just lived her humble life the way she thought was good and right. Years later, she received another call from the LDS church. This time, the message was brief. "Mrs. Bello, we just wanted to let you know we put your royalties to good use. We built a temple."

For the LDS, temples are a sacred, vital place. What an amazing call that must have been. To the sick and dying, that is the equivalent of building a hospital! To us, a temple is a bit of a spiritual hospital. This unassuming woman's love for music accomplished more than I can imagine. Happy kids the world over are singing this fun little song. And as a result, an entire temple was built, providing haven and a place of service for hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints.

Mrs. Bello passed away in 2007. I wish I had the opportunity to know this story when she was alive, and thank her. To her, to her family, I say, thank you, Sister Bello. For in the gospel we truly are brothers and sisters. Thank you for your unselfish act. Times are tight, money can be scarce. But hearing this story made me stop and think: How can I share the talents, the possessions which I have? Its not much. But I can give time. I can share meals and rides. I can smile more often and speak encouraging words. Challenge accepted! And next spring when the trees in Utah blossom, I will have a new appreciation of how little means can bring about great things.


  1. Thank you! I never knew that story and I will pass it on. I will think of how rich Mrs. Bello really is in the things that matter. Her song brings me joy, much sweeter with the story.

  2. Great story, Bb! I loved singing that song as I tracted in NJ. I remember seeing "popcorn trees" all over the place. What an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Becky what a wonderful story, I really enjoyed it. I want to thank you for all that you have done and do for my family. Helping Doug and Denise when they stayed at your house and your continuing to let Doug store his belonging with you while he serves his mission means so much to Denny and me. We also love and admire you for being such a wonderful mom to Chloe she is one lucky girl to have such a Cool and loving mom!