Even though their home is as busy as the road in front of it, there is a peaceful, loving feeling in the home of Benjamin (10), Isaac (8), and Abraham (7) Lopez. Friends and relatives regularly drop in to visit or discuss work or Church assignments. The missionaries who live in the back bedroom come and go on their way to their next appointment or to have lunch. But the Lopezes are used to it and love it all.
Benjamin, Isaac, and Abraham’s parents, Enrique and Elizabeth (Betty) Lopez, hope that their sons will apply the keywords of many Guatemalan Saints in their lives: service, service, service.
All the boys serve their family at home by doing their chores willingly. Benjamin makes the beds, washes the car, and helps clean the house. Isaac washes the clothes, does some of the grocery shopping, and helps his brothers with their homework. Abraham waters the patio flowers, helps Benjamin wash the car, and keeps his room clean.
Not everything they do together is work. Benjamin plays chess with his brothers and father, reads books, and plays electronic games. Isaac plays basketball by himself, although sometimes his brothers will join in for a game. He also likes to paint, and he has played the violin for two years. Abraham likes to do whatever his brothers are doing.
Life is not always easy for the three boys. Sometimes bad things do happen, and the boys have learned to depend on Heavenly Father to help them.
One morning a few years ago, Sister Lopez was taking her children and four of their cousins to school. On the way, they were in a very serious accident. The children weren’t hurt, but Sister Lopez broke her neck.
The doctors in Guatemala City did what they could for her, but eight months later she became very ill. The doctors said that she needed neck surgery and that afterward she would be in a wheelchair the rest of her life. The family prayed, and Sister Lopez decided to call some of the young men in the United States who had lived in their home as missionaries. One of them was studying to become an orthopedic surgeon! He said, “Come to Provo, and let us do the surgery here.” One of his teachers agreed to perform the surgery, and a family offered to care for Sister Lopez until she was well enough to return to Guatemala.
On the day of the surgery, it was hard for the rest of the family to not know how the surgery was going. They all prayed a lot on that day. Benjamin in particular prayed that his mother would feel good again and would still be able to walk. When they called her that night, she said that the operation had gone well and that she still had the use of her legs!
“I was recovering in Utah for three months,” Sister Lopez said. “Everyone helped me a lot, but it was hard to be so far away from my family.”
Isaac remembers well the one time the family got to see her before she came home. “We drove for five days to get to Provo to see Mommy. It was a very long drive, but it was worth it!” Sister Lopez recovered and returned home. The family is grateful to Heavenly Father for taking care of her and making it so she could walk.
Not long ago the boys faced another challenge. Their eighty-four-year-old grandfather was recovering from a severe stroke. After leaving the hospital, he still couldn’t walk or talk; he was sent to recuperate at the farm where he lived. Twelve days later someone killed him. “We don’t know who killed him,” Sister Lopez said.
“One of our priesthood leaders told our family to pray for whoever it was who killed my father-in-law,” Brother Lopez said. “And for ourselves, so that we would be able to forgive that person.”
“Two or three days later,” Sister Lopez added, “Benjamin came to me crying, ‘Mommy, I want to be able to pray to Heavenly Father for the person who killed my grandfather. But I can’t do it; I’m too mad at whoever did it.’ For me it was something special that he wanted to be obedient. So we talked about how Heavenly Father can help us to forgive others. Then my husband and I said, ‘Let’s pray as a family for the person who did this,’ because it was just too hard for Benjamin and the other children to do on their own. With Heavenly Father’s help, we have forgiven the killer and pray that one day he will have the gospel in his life. It has been a very special experience for our family.”
The three boys try to choose the right. Benjamin is glad that he chose to be baptized, and he really tries to follow the counsel of the Church leaders. He and his brothers also have the example of their parents and relatives. Their great-grandmother (their father’s grandmother) was one of the first members of the Church in Guatemala. Their family has watched and helped the Church grow for the last fifty years. When the family used to visit their great-grandmother before she died, she always talked about the Church, or they found her reading the Liahona* or singing the hymns. She loved the Church.
Abraham has another memory of Church music. Missionaries have lived in their home all of his life. One mission president made a rule that all the missionaries should sing “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” when they got out of bed in the morning. The missionaries living with the Lopezes were very obedient. They’d get up every single day and sing it—loudly and with a lot of enthusiasm. The boys liked hearing the song coming from the missionaries’ room. It is still one of their favorite Primary songs.
The three brothers are a lot like their favorite people in the scriptures. Benjamin wants to teach the gospel like Mosiah did, without fear and with patience. Isaac knows that he has been born of goodly parents like Nephi. And Abraham hopes to have the faith of his namesake, who was willing to offer the Lord the thing he valued most—his son. With their desires to serve and love Heavenly Father and their fellowmen, Benjamin, Isaac, and Abraham Lopez truly are pioneers of the Church in Guatemala.