In 2013, “Oh Lord, My Redeemer” was a song that my sister, Sarah, suggested we perform at an event. At the time of our discussion, I thought I had never heard this song before. But she began playing it, not only did it bring back faint memories of the song, but also tears to my eyes. This was a piece I could see play out in my head. And for me, that is what it is all about. So Sarah, Stacie and I started to practice right away. For me to perform with the feelings I know I need to convey, I have to have the pauses, breaks, and even certain dynamics and feelings from the piano and vocals. I’m grateful Sarah and Stacie were sensitive to my needs as a visual performer.
We performed this piece several times over the following few months. Each time we performed this song, I had to be in the right frame of mind, and the be prepared, spiritually. I knew if I was not in a place mentally and spiritually, I wouldn’t be able to convey the message I wanted/needed to, and it wouldn’t be felt the way the song deserves. Mind you, being spiritually prepared, for me, meant am I in-tune with the Spirit? I knew it couldn’t be a last minute “give me the Spirit please” thing, cuz that never worked. And it never was “am I perfect today?” because … yeah, I’m just not perfect. But being prepared for the Spirit was crucial.
After that first time hearing the song, I knew “Oh Lord, My Redeemer” was on my ‘gotta film’ list! I wanted it done “the right way”. This song deserved the right setting! I wanted to film this in Jerusalem! I tried to earn funds through a Kickstarter campaign and I failed. Although I was devastated from this unsuccessful campaign, I wasn’t going to give up. I knew it wasn’t the end of it. The time would come. The place would come. I just kept praying and hoping and hoping and praying.
The process of getting the proper license to film this took SEVERAL months. It sometimes felt like I would go forward 2 steps, set back 5, and then forward 2 and back 5, again and again. But I didn’t want to give up. I was determined to figure out where I needed to go and somehow get the license to film “Oh Lord, My Redeemer”. Months went by. Then, I remember I had had a very rough week. I was really praying for certain blessings and peace. One particular day the following week, I received a phone call. It was Brother Jeff Goodrich. THE Jeff Goodrich! The very one who penned, “Oh Lord, My Redeemer”!!! He said, “I was going through my pile of papers on my desk and noticed your envelope. I received your envelope a few weeks ago but somehow things got piled up on it. But as I opened it and read your letter, I felt the Spirit very strong. Then, I watched your video. I knew I needed to call you, personally. I have no doubt that you will make a video that is pleasing to the Lord. There is always one thing I ask when someone uses my music and that is: to have the Spirit with them as they share what is sacred to me… and I have NO DOUBT that you will do just that! Please, use this song!” I was, honestly, speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I remember doing everything I could just to hold back the tears. The only thing I can remember saying was, “THANK YOU, BROTHER GOODRICH, THANK YOU!” I remember looking at the time after and saw he talked with me for 15 minutes. I thought, ME??? He talked with ME for 15 minutes? Wow. Looking back, I can’t recall what else was said. After we hung up, I wept and wept and wept some more. I could feel the loving arms of my Heavenly Father around me. As soon as I could stop crying for a moment, I shared this amazing moment with my hubby. Then I wept some more. Then I called my sister. And overwhelmed, I cried some more. And then my mother. And well into the day, I was still so very touched and grateful, I couldn’t hold back the tears of gratitude. I did, indeed, get the license!
Soon after I obtained the license to film this piece, Sarah and Stacie went in the studio to record the sound track. I could see it was coming together. But a year and a half went by and I still didn’t have a video, even on the calendar. I contacted Mark and said, “What do you think? Is it possible to get this filmed, edited and released in time for an Easter run? I really want you to film this. I know YOU would be able to create this story on film the way I see it in my head!” He said, “I really think we could!”
Time ticked on and our schedules just didn’t mesh. So I prayed harder. Ha. … I really did! … A couple of months later, he came to town and we started hashing out logistics. Oh, a happy day for sure!
I contacted the people I needed to for costumes and location. Those both fell through. I prayed harder and listened more. Then I received another email from one of the costume/location people. They gave me a possible lead for the costumes. And sure enough, this sweet lady, Kay, emailed me right back saying,
“Absolutely! When do you want to come get them?” Of course, I was just HOPING for a couple of costumes, and then if we didn’t have enough for everyone, we would share the costumes with each other, so all could be dressed time-appropriate in each scene. When I arrived into town the day before we started shooting, we met with Kay. She had everything we needed! These costumes were beautiful! She even had the costumes for the Roman soldiers! It was so HUMBLING to see the Lord’s hand in this!
Soon after we got the ‘okay’ for costumes, I began working on finding people to play the parts I needed in this video. Towns people, friends, soldiers, a woman, and a man. I was glad I knew many Deaf people in the Mesa area (where we would be filming). I contacted everyone I could think of. The part I could not get filled was that of the ‘woman by my side’. I kept praying who I could use. Do I use one of the women I would be using for the other parts? In my mind, I kept seeing a lady with strawberry blonde hair. Her facial features were distinct. Her hands were strong. She was humble with a strong spirit about her. I kept thinking to myself, why am I limiting myself to that description? But I just kept searching! So fast forward to the afternoon before we were to shoot. I went through every Facebook friend I had, emailing each as I went down the alphabet. None of which could do it. I finally got almost to the end of my list. I was feeling very humbled. I prayed and said to the Lord, “This is your video. I’m just the means to make it happen. But I can’t do this alone! I need this part filled! I don’t know who?!!” I felt the response, “Keep going.” So I kept going. And then there was Wenonah’s name. Wenonah. Could she? Would she be available? She would be amazing! I don’t want to get my hopes up. I prayed again. And then I texted her. She accepted for the moment. She had to check with her family to see if they’d be okay with it. I held my breath and kept praying. That afternoon, she texted back and said she could … and her family would come along too! I was overwhelmed with joy! How grateful I was for that message! Then the thought came to me again. A woman with strawberry blonde hair. Her features are distinct. Her hands are strong. This woman was humble with a strong spirit about her. That was Wenonah’s description exactly! I knew the Lord wanted her! … It still touches me today, thinking about this! It was a miracle!
Two nights before we were to shoot, Mark and I went through the storyboard again. I told him, “This is how I see it in my head. I know this was inspiration from the Lord. This is how we gotta do it!” He took careful note as I described each line. Each moment. Each scene. He could see it too. And he always says,”If I can see it, I can shoot it.” So, after fine-lining everything, I was confident we were gonna have a beautiful film.
The last thing we had to figure was the location. Not living there for some time, I couldn’t remember the whereabouts. I offered what I could think of and Mark thought of what he could. He called me with good news as I was driving to town. He got the place. Seeing it the next day, it was absolutely perfect!
Ya know, the only dates we had open to film was March 27th and 28th. And then all of a sudden, Mark’s schedule had a work commitment on those days that he could not get out of. I prayed and prayed to help us find a time to film. Our ‘Jesus’ was only available on March 20th and 21st. We just could not make it work. Then one day both my obligations for the 13th and 14th cancelled. I called Mark and he said his just cancelled for that same weekend too. His work commitments for the 20th and 21st got moved to another weekend, so he could come film our Resurrected Jesus scene the 20th and 21st near where I live. Oh, the excitement switch just got turned up to full blast!!! The only other thing we needed to figure out was who would play ‘Jesus’ while we are in Mesa, since our ‘Jesus’ wouldn’t be able to make it until the Resurrection part. We asked one of the missionaries in the area to play the mortal Jesus. He was willing! What a blessing! He brought the Spirit so beautifully to each part he played! And another blessing, to me, is that he was Deaf! These amazing miracles were a testament that heavenly hands were involved in this!
Thursday, March 13th
9:00pm: I drove into Mesa and met with Kay. We picked out all of the beautiful costumes.
Friday, March 14th
Day time: Mark and I stepped out each scene. Built a fire pit. Created the scene for the boy being raised from the dead. Shopped for props. Got the food.
5:00pm: Actors arrived. Had a devotional and ate pizza. Got dressed. Grabbed waters and snacks and it was time to shoot.
6:00pm: Shot the scenes: woman on the street, Golgotha, boy being raised from the dead.
9:00pm: Did a rough edit with the footage we shot. Decided which parts we needed to reshoot.
My favorite part of Friday was when we shot the scene with the boy being raised from the dead. There were only 8 of us in the room. The wind, which was very gusty that day, had calmed down. The sweet boy did exactly what we needed each time. As each of the people in the scene were Deaf, we had to coordinate each movement perfectly, to make it work. And it did. The Spirit was really strong. It was a sacred moment for sure!
Saturday, March 15th
I knew there was only one last shot at this. I knew what needed to be done, and I was feeling overwhelmed. I prayed and prayed hard!
Daytime: Filmed the intro parts. Walked out each scene again. Went over all instructions for actors again. Built the blind man’s shelter. Bought the food. Got the fire started ready for the hot dog dinner and the scene to follow.
4:30pm: Actors arrived. Had a devotional and hot dog dinner. Got dressed. Grabbed waters and ran to the first retake. The Spirit was really strong this night. For the reshoots, it took us one shot and a backup for ‘just in case’ each scene. Everyone was so focused. Then we shot the blind man’s scene and then off to the fire. Every part was so perfect. Everyone really had the “let’s do it!” hats on and followed direction perfectly. Like I said, the Spirit was strong!
It’s hard to choose a “favorite part” for this night. It ALL was my favorite! Like I said, the Spirit was strong, the actors were focused, they were spot-on each time! If I had to choose a part that was really special, it would be when we shot the blind man scene. We shot that three times. The first time, the timing wasn’t exactly right on some things. So after instruction, we did it again. The retake was SO TENDER! Both Mark and I shouted after that take, “WOW! THAT’S IT! SOOO PERFECT!” Wilson, the “blind man”, said he wanted to do it one more time! He wanted to finish the scene with a kiss to his love. So sweet! So we agreed to reshoot that! But, it was the second shot that what we used in the final video. It really was a very beautiful and tender moment!
We finished by 9:30pm. We were beat! So, we just packed up, and headed home for the night.
The next morning, I headed home. My heart was SO FULL! I was overwhelmed thinking of all the beautiful miracles I was allowed to witness, sweet blessings, tender mercies, loving people, the outpouring of the Spirit, and immense love of the Savior. I reflected on Jesus’ life, the miracles HE performed, the love HE has for each of us, for the great plan of happiness and my heart was full of gratitude! I plead to the Lord that this video would, in fact, share the beauty, the miracles, the love of our Savior! I prayed that those who would watch would feel closer to Him and feel of His great love for them. That’s all I wanted from this! ….
Mark and Penny rolled into Southern Utah. We headed straight for the location that we were considering for the final scene. We wanted to reshoot some of the fire scenes on the evening of the 20th, and the resurrection scene on the 21st. So we found the places and waited so we could test the time/lighting to know exactly when we were going to shoot.
7:00pm. It was time to shoot the establishing shot, so I called some of my peeps and enticed them with smores! Hehe. They were more than willing!… (With or without smores!) Smile. So we filmed the establishing shot and then worked on a couple of the fire reshots. Those, thank goodness, didn’t take too long. It was getting cold!
I was so happy for those reshots though, because a couple of my favorite parts of the video were shot that night.
8:00am. Mark, Kelly, Shay (Resurrected Jesus), my daughter (mini photographer) and I met at the rock, ready for this final scene. Shay was perfect! We shot the scene a couple of times and I was just not feeling it. We kept going, and in the middle of a scene, I said, “Stop. I’m just not feeling it. I just feel off.” Kelly said, “It’s probably because we didn’t start off with a prayer.” She was right! She offered the prayer and then I asked if someone would share a spiritual moment. I needed to be in the zone. Kelly had an experience of when she worked behind the scenes at the Mesa Easter Pageant. It was a beautiful moment… (I think I’m going to have her type it up and share it
with me… and then I’ll share it with you) … Anyways, that was what I needed. We shot the last take and that was the one! It, again, reminded me that this is the Lord’s work. And I needed his Spirit in each part. Doing it on my own, because I want to, doesn’t bring the same beauty and spirit and as inviting the Spirit of the Lord first and then going forward. It was a beautiful reminder to me. It was a beautiful ending to all of my experiences.
I’m grateful that Mark was by my side through all this! He listened to my ideas, he trusted my directions, he helped me when I needed feedback and was a trusted friend through all of this. I relied on and trusted in him for everything video and editing. I knew that if anyone could share this story how I hoped, it would be him! He did an absolutely beautiful job!
So although this was a piece I had hoped to portray in the Holy Land, the Lord taught me beautiful lessons along the way. And that was more important. I guess, in essence, the Lord brought the Holy Land to us. And regardless, the Spirit of the Lord can be with us, no matter where we are in the world… and the Spirit can be shared and felt through a video, no matter where we are in the world, and no matter the language we speak.
“Oh Lord, My Redeemer”
by Jeff Goodrich
Performed in ASL by Susan Layton
(Click on picture or title above to view video.)
MY HEART and MUCH GRATITUDE goes out to everyone involved in the process of making this video! The actors, sound crew, video crew, musicians, wardrobe, the “Deaf Eyes” crew, and my family … THANK YOU: Wilson and Holly Auman, Dallin Ashton, Jacob and Jessica Gurr, Barney and Beverly Hawkins, Neil, Wenonah and Clifford Holmes, Ryan Layton and children, Melissa Leitheiser, Shay and Kelly Lelegran, Missionaries: Elder Clegg, Elder Jackson, Elder Monteith, Elder Weber, Marsha and Douglas Moulton, Rob Nielson, Chad, Alora, Whitney and Parker Ostler, Linda Ostler, Joe and Starla Sapienza, Kay Walker, and of course, Penny and Mark Jones!
To Brother Jeff Goodrich: Thank you! THANK YOU for your inspiration to pen this beautiful music! THANK YOU for your love for the Savior that shows through this sacred hymn! THANK YOU for allowing me to share my testimony through your song! THANK YOU!!!
I am so grateful for the Savior of the world, even Jesus Christ! It was through Him that we have purpose. It is through Him that we have eternal life. It is through Him that we know how to live a life of true happiness. As we emulate His love, kindness, joy in service, joy in others, sacrifice and humility we will experience more joy than we could ever feel otherwise. It is through His sacred acts of love that we can become whole and we can live again after this life. There is nothing greater than these acts of love, His infinite Atonement and Resurrection. Oh Lord, My Redeemer! For Thou hast done so much for me!!! All my love I give to Thee!! THANK YOU!!!