As missionaries in the Chile Antofagasta Mission, my companion and I were teaching a young lady and her brother, who was eight years old. For the second discussion, her brother invited David Marín, a friend his age, to attend. David was a small boy, and he did not yet know how to read. But he looked at us attentively, listened enthusiastically, and asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon. My companion and I glanced at each other. Since David didn’t read, we silently decided against giving him a Book of Mormon.
Later that same day, we happened to meet David again in the street. He said, “Elders, when are you going to give me my Book of Mormon?” Still thinking he would have no use for the book, we let the opportunity go by a second time. After all, he was just an eight-year-old boy.
When we taught the third discussion to the young lady and her brother, little David was there again. After the discussion, he asked us again, this time a little annoyed, “And where is my Book of Mormon?”
I looked at him and felt something special. Smiling, I tried to explain why we hadn’t given him the book, saying, “You cannot read it, David.” His face fell. But at that moment, the thought came into my mind, His parents can read it. So I continued, “But your parents can. Let’s go to your house and talk with them.”
David smiled, jumped for joy, and took us to his home. There we met his father, Don Astemio; his mother, María; his sisters, Macarena and Valeska, both age 11; and his one-year-old brother.
The Maríns were a humble and loving family. The father had once been a fine athlete, but he had been afflicted with Parkinson’s disease for about seven years; for the past two years, he had been confined to bed.
After listening to the discussions, David, Macarena, and Valeska were baptized but not Don Astemio because of his illness. His wife, María, was not baptized either.
We continued to visit the family, and one day Don Astemio said, “Tomorrow I am going to be baptized,” adding, “and afterward I will be healed.” When I heard these words, I felt great joy, but I was also afraid. I knew his faith had grown, but what would happen if he could not walk after his baptism? I tried to explain to him that baptism would heal him spiritually—but a physical healing was in the hands of our Father in Heaven. In spite of everything my companion and I said, he remained certain that after his baptism he was going to walk.
On the night before his baptism, I knelt and prayed with all my heart, asking Heavenly Father for His will to be done. After my prayer, I felt a special peace.
The next day, Don Astemio stood with great difficulty. He could not take a single step without help. When we got to the meetinghouse, we had to go up a long staircase to the second floor. We were all moved by the great effort and pain it took Don Astemio to go up those stairs, step by step. When we finally walked into the building, the members there looked at us with surprise.
When Don Astemio came out of the water, I saw he had great faith, but his body was the same. He could not stand by himself.
We left him at his home after the service. He did not want to go to bed but remained sitting calmly in an armchair.
The next day, we dropped by to visit him. As we approached his home, we could see little David playing outside with a ball—and there was Don Astemio, running and playing with his son! I could hardly believe what I was seeing. My eyes filled with tears, and in my heart I thanked Heavenly Father for His great love. Two weeks later, María was baptized.
While Don Astemio’s healing was unusual, I am grateful that the Lord blessed this family in a remarkable way. Left to our own intelligence, my companion and I would have continued to ignore little David, but the Lord knew something we didn’t. He knew that this child would be the means by which an entire family would come into His Church and be helped in ways we could not have foreseen.