Located in the heart of Northern Europe is the small country of Belgium. And near the center of Belgium is the historic town of Waterloo, where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in battle by England’s Duke of Wellington in 1815. Today, Pablo (11) and Hugo (7) Varela live in the peaceful town of Waterloo with their two older brothers, Pedro (20) and Diego (19), and their parents, Jorge and Camille.
The town’s beautiful countryside is covered with rolling farmlands marked by a memorial mound called La Butte du Lion (Lion’s Mount). It is 100′ (30.5 m) high and was created long ago by Belgian housewives who carried bucketfuls of soil, often in baskets on their backs, from the battlefields. Visitors can climb its 226 steps to the observation deck, look up at the huge statue of a lion that tops it, and then look out at the picturesque countryside.
Last year the Varela family had the opportunity to make modern-day Belgian history. They joined other Church members—as well as some nonmembers—in a pioneer parade in Charleroi, Belgium, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The parade was the largest in Belgium’s history! Dressed in pioneer clothing, the Varelas and more than 1500 other people from wards and branches in the area paraded down the street with wagons, handcarts, horses and buggies, bands, and 160 missionaries. The Varelas enjoyed participating in the celebration. They know that as well as being an important event in Belgian and Church history, the parade was also a great missionary tool for the Church because about 6,000 people watched it.
Pablo knows the importance of missionary work, and he tries to be a missionary at school by being a good example to his friends. He has told them what it’s like to be a Church member. He has shared the Articles of Faith with one particular friend, given him several brochures, and invited him to church. Pablo has a great concern for the Word of Wisdom and has told his teachers that coffee and smoking are not good for them. Also a good example to his friends, Hugo tries to “live the way Jesus would want me to by being kind to others.”
In school, Hugo enjoys reading and mathematics, especially multiplication. Language classes in Dutch, French, and English are an important part of their school’s curriculum, and Pablo finds the study of Latin quite intriguing. Spanish is important in their lives, too, because their father is from a small village in Northern Spain. Their mother is of Belgian-Italian descent.
The boys are helpful with the household duties. They try their best to keep their rooms clean every day. Setting the table, cleaning the bathtub, and taking the silverware out of the dishwasher keep Hugo busy. Pablo cleans the bathroom sink, vacuums, and feeds the family cat, Mustache.
The boys have fun playing rugby, riding bikes, roller-skating, watching TV, and playing board games together. They also have their separate interests. Hugo is involved in fencing (swordsmanship). He has learned the lunge move to attack and hopes to learn many of the more than 200 fencing moves. In judo, Pablo has already earned his orange belt and is now learning new techniques for his green belt.
Music is an important part of Pablo’s life. His talent was quickly recognized by his family when he began playing Church hymns on the violin by ear (without written music)! He enjoys playing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” and “I Am a Child of God.” In the 1996 Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation, he performed a violin solo.
The Valera family attends the Louise Ward, Brussels Belgium Stake, where Sister Valera teaches the gospel doctrine class, Brother Valera teaches a weekly religion class for the youth, Pedro teaches a youth Sunday School class, and Diego works in the ward library. Pablo greets the children at the door in Primary and keeps his Valiant classroom in order by putting materials away. Looking forward to his baptism, Hugo is preparing for it in Primary by learning the Articles of Faith, studying about Jesus Christ, and being reverent in his CTR class. “I Am a Child of God” is his favorite song to sing.
Pablo enjoys family home evening because “we are all together.” He likes it when everyone sits around the table with their scriptures and has a turn reading the verses. His favorite Book of Mormon story is about Korihor. Hugo also likes to read the scriptures with the family, particularly when his parents ask questions afterward. If someone answers a question correctly, he is rewarded with sweets wrapped in foil. Noah and the ark is Hugo’s favorite scripture story. At family night they often read about the members of the Church in the Friend or Ensign,then locate where they live on a world map. Hugo likes to help find the location, mark it, then link the different locations with pieces of yarn.
So what do these two young brothers contribute to the family? Hugo brings joy to them because he’s usually full of smiles and eager to help. Pablo enriches their lives with his spirituality, sensitivity to the scriptures, musical talents, awareness of people’s feelings, and peacemaking efforts.