Miguel Arrellano looked out the window of the tar-paper shack. Thunderclouds had opened up, pouring forth torrents of rain. Such storms were not unusual in his small village set in the mountains of Colombia.
Normally Miguel did not mind the rain. It watered the crops that the family depended upon for a living. Today, though, he prayed for the rain to stop.
It was a special day—the day he and his parents would be baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He remembered when the two missionaries had found them. Elder Berger and Elder Santos, dressed in dark pants and white shirts, had appeared at their door. They wore small, black, name badges proclaiming that they represented the Church.
Elder Berger was tall, almost two meters. He came from Utah in the United States of America. In Colombia, men are rarely so tall. Papá was only a few centimeters taller than Miguel. Elder Santos was a native missionary and even shorter than Papá.
Miguel had practiced saying Elder Berger’s name. The syllables sounded strange upon his tongue. They laughed together as the American missionary tried to say Arrellano.
The elders told the family the story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration. When Elder Berger bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, tears streamed down his face. He and Elder Santos both testified that Joseph Smith had been a prophet and that Gordon B. Hinckley was now the prophet. Though Miguel was only eleven, he knew that he was hearing the truth.
Mamá had cried when the elders had spoken of families being together forever. “Always, we search for something,” she had said. “Now I know we have found it.” She’d placed her hand on her heart. “I feel it. Here.”
The rain continued to fall in sheets and showed no signs of letting up.
Miguel looked from Mamá to Papá. “We must go. We told Elder Berger and Elder Santos that we would be there.”
Papá pointed to the flooded road. “There will be no bus today.”
The family had no car and had to rely on the bus. They had to change buses twice to reach the church. Each week, they carefully counted out the coins necessary to buy the bus tokens for Sunday. This week, they had taken money from their small food budget to pay for the extra trip to the church.
Papá worked very hard, but there was never enough money. Mamá had saved a little and made them new clothes. She had sewn Miguel and Papá shirts and herself a blouse. Miguel thought that she looked pretty in the bright yellow color.
He remembered the picture of President Hinckley the two young elders had shown the family. The prophet would not give up. He would find a way to get to the church, Miguel decided, and so will we.
“Señor Tomás,” Miguel said, glancing out the window and seeing their neighbor. “He goes to the city every day. Maybe he will give us a ride.”
Miguel ran across the muddy yard to their neighbor’s humble home. Señor Tomás nodded agreeably as the boy explained the situation. Miguel and Papá climbed into the back of the truck; Mamá rode in the cab with their neighbor.
They held on tightly as the old truck bounced over the rough roads. When they arrived at the small meetinghouse, they were wet and very tired, but happy.
The elders greeted them. Their clothes were wet and wrinkled, too, but the smiles on their faces were the brightest Miguel had ever seen.
“We weren’t sure you could make it,” Elder Berger said. “We’ve had problems here, too.”
They shared stories. Elder Santos explained that the pipes that carried water to the chapel had burst so that the baptismal font could not be filled. After praying, the elders had filled buckets with rain water and carried them inside the church to fill the font.
Miguel and his parents explained how they had found a ride with their neighbor.
“It’s a miracle you made it,” Elder Santos said.
Papá looked at the baptismal font and said, “We have many miracles today.”
“And much to be thankful for,” Mamá added.
Miguel and Papá changed clothes in a small dressing room while Mamá changed clothes in another one. Miguel touched the crisp white shirt and pants the elders had given him. They felt strange against his skin.
The water was so shallow that the elders had to kneel to perform the baptisms.
Miguel waited while his parents were baptized. When the time came for his own baptism, he felt a warmth come over him, even though the water was cold.
After everyone had changed into dry clothes, Elder Berger and Elder Santos confirmed Miguel and his parents members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Miguel hugged his parents, then Elder Berger and Elder Santos. He would never forget this day or the baptism miracles.
By Rebecca Todd Archibald
President Gordon B. Hinckley was baptized by his father on April 28, 1919, in a meetinghouse baptismal font in Salt Lake City, Utah. President Hinckley is the first Church President to be baptized indoors in a baptismal font.
Of the fourteen Latter-day Saint prophets before him, two were baptized in rivers, one in an outdoor baptismal font, one in a stream, five in creeks, two in ponds, one in a swimming pool, and two in a canal.
Although they were baptized in different places, all of these Church Presidents made the same promise that we make at baptism: to follow Jesus Christ. All fifteen have kept this promise. They have followed the Savior, and in time, all were called to be special witnesses of Him.
(See “Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism,” Friend, August 1997, pages 42–43.)