In 1969 my father was in his first area with no one to teach. Other than practicing Spanish and looking for people to teach he had been assigned to play the piano in church. In a small chapel he sat and practiced three hymns on the organ when a man (we will call him Lucas), having heard his playing, walked into the chapel and asked "What is this place?" My Dad, in his newly learned Spanish, explained that it was a church and invited him to learn more. Lucas set up an appointment and this young missionary beamed with joy.
Lucas and his wife met with my Dad and his companion and were quick to accept the gospel. Lucas was the first person my father baptized. He embraced the lessons about tithing and wanted to begin before even being baptized. My father encouraged them to find something that allowed them to earn money together and testified that they would be successful. They had faith that the Lord would provide for them and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit found a future endeavor that would, in time, would bring them great financial successes. With this financial success Lucas has gone on to encourage and even pay for young men to serve their missions.
Back in 2008 I was working and attending church in Argentina. After asking questions I found that a leader in the church, with a familiar last name, was indeed the baby that once listened to my Dad's missionary lesson. I introduced myself and before parting ways we took a picture to show my Dad a grown up Josue, his wife, and a baby of his own. Josue reached out to his mother. He had heard about the missionaries who had taught his parents and knew she would want to meet me too. A few weeks later Mariana greeted me at church with a well worn Book of Mormon in her hands. She handed the book to me and as I opened it I found a small picture of my 19 year old dad in the back cover. Beside this photo there was his hand written testimony and a signed baptism certificate. Reading the strong testimony of my future dad was eye-opening and made me feel even closer to him. I got to read his testimony while he was building its foundation; it touched me that someone else loved and appreciated my father and his testimony. They were grateful enough to remember him and cherish a young boy they knew so many years ago.
On Easter they invited me over for dinner to meet Lucas. I was nervous as the intimidating 6'3 figure in a handsome grey suit stood over me. We exchanged pleasantries and visited while they shared their food, candy, and their home. Later that night, after dropping me off outside of my apartment, he realized that I wasn't a missionary and could hug people. He leaned over my small frame, wrapped his arms around me, laid his head on my shoulder, and wept. He told me how much he loved my Dad and how he changed his life. I reassured this grown man that my Dad loved him too and I would bring him back to Argentina one day.
In such a short time I too had grown to love this family and their story.
My Dad's mission, although it had been almost 40 years prior, had linked our families. There was a love and a gratitude there that had not faded with time. They had the memory of their missionary and that was enough to show love and hospitality to his youngest daughter.
This is a featured post written by Jen S. Names have been changed and more personal/ spiritual details have been omitted. Your stories can be featured on this blog too. Contact us via social media or email.