Missionary Moment: A Book and a Suitcase

Contributed By Jerry and Jeanie Dunn, Church News contributors

  • 15 August 2018

Sister Kellys Fandiño is a missionary serving in the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission. She decided to serve a mission after seeing the gospel bless her family.  Photo courtesy of Kellys Fandiño.

When Kellys Fandiño was a child, her mother bought a used book in the marketplace. Although they had no idea what the book was, her family began reading it. 

At that time, there was no official presence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their small city of Cienaga, Magdalena, Colombia. They didn’t realize it then, but the book the Fandiño family was reading was the Book of Mormon. They did not know the name of the book, but they knew it was scripture. They loved reading it and looking for meaningful verses. 

In 2008 the family was attending a local church. Kellys was still very young, but she would sometimes copy a scripture from the unknown book and take it to her study group. The youth liked the verses she shared. They asked her where she was getting them, so one day she took the family’s book to her youth group to show them her source. 

When the pastor saw the Book of Mormon, he took it from her and burned it. The Fandiño family was very upset and stopped attending church.

Sister Kellys Fandiño stands with her special suitcase. Her sister sacrificed a lot to earn the money to buy this suitcase for her mission. Her sister’s faithful sacrifice inspired Kellys to serve as well. Photo courtesy of Kellys Fandiño.

Five years later, two missionaries were teaching the Fandiños’s neighbor. When that neighbor asked the elders not to come back, they decided to knock instead on the Fandiños’s door. Kellys’s mother opened the door and found two smiling missionaries. She told them the story of the book, and the missionaries showed her a copy of the Book of Mormon.

“Once again the book has come to our home,” Sister Fandiño told her family. They were all baptized within a few weeks.

Sacrificing for missionary work

About three years after the family was baptized, Kellys’s younger sister decided she wanted to serve a mission. After she finished school, she began cleaning houses to earn money for everything she would need. 

When she went to collect the money owed her, one of the women she had worked for refused to pay her. Sister Fandiño was still able to buy most of the things she needed, but without the rest of the money she had earned, she did not have enough to buy a suitcase.

Then, she realized she did have one more thing that could be worth some money—her beautiful long hair that went below her waist. 

“She really loved her hair, but she loved our Father in Heaven more,” said Kellys Fandiño. Her sister cut her hair short, sold it, and used the money to buy a suitcase to take with her to the Peru Iquitos Mission.

Inspired by her younger sister’s sacrifice, Kellys Fandiño is now serving in the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission. She wears her sister’s mission clothes and travels with a very special suitcase. 

—Elder Jerry Dunn and Sister Jeanie Dunn are Church history missionaries serving in the South America Northwest Area, in the Lima Peru Missionary Training Center