High above Oaxaca, Mexico, César Arzate (10) and his family stand gazing across Monte Albán, a mountaintop city of ancient temples, tombs, and palaces. The ruins are impressive, but the temple César loves is in the valley below.
The Oaxaca México Temple is one of the new, smaller temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. César, who attended both the open house and the dedication, doesn’t consider it small, though. “For me it is large and very beautiful,” he explains. “Size doesn’t matter, anyway. What matters is that it is a sacred house of Heavenly Father.” He was sealed to his parents, Ladislao and Gisela, in the Mexico City Temple when he was only six months old. He can’t remember that day, and yet he treasures it.
Being baptized by his father was another highlight of César’s life. “I made a promise to God that I would live an upright life, and I will keep my promise.” To do so, he tries to be led by the Holy Ghost. “The Holy Ghost is a faithful Companion who tells me what is good and what is bad. His voice is so soft that only those who have faith in the Lord and really listen can hear Him. I am never afraid of being alone, because He is a Friend who is always with me.”
Oaxaca lies in a pleasant valley wrapped in the folds of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains in southwestern Mexico. It is a charming old city of narrow streets and two-story colonial buildings with skillfully crafted ironwork on windows and balconies.
César likes Oaxaca, but it is not his lifelong home. As an officer in the Mexican Air Force, Brother Arzate has been transferred all around the country, and César has attended eight different schools in four cities. “It’s a little hard at first, because no one knows me and so I don’t have any friends,” he admits. But then he quickly adds, “I pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to help me make new friends and get good grades.” César loves his country and is proud of his father for helping to defend it.
The Arzates live in a nice apartment in a military compound, and César does his share of the housework. He dusts the furniture, sweeps the floor, makes his bed, cleans his room, and clears the table after meals.
He wants to be a commercial airline pilot someday, and those who know him best believe he will succeed. He is a serious, thoughtful boy who makes plans and follows them. “He doesn’t do anything on impulse,” Brother Arzate explains. “He thinks things through carefully before acting. This sometimes annoys people who must wait for him to decide. But his decisions are almost always good ones, and he doesn’t turn aside from them. Spiritually, he is very centered in the Church. He pursues his goals with enthusiasm and firmness, looking for ways to move forward each day. He prays often and applies Primary lessons to his life.”
César used to be rather shy, but Church activities have helped him to become more outgoing. Although friendly with everyone, he chooses close friends carefully. And these friendships last. He receives letters and telephone calls from all over Mexico. His best friends are his brother, Daniel (5), and his sister, Diana Gisela (2). His parents can leave them in his care with total confidence that he will keep them safe and happy. Even when the family goes on an outing, César pays attention to what the younger children are doing. He does this in a caring, not-at-all bossy way, and his little brother and sister love him dearly.
Daniel is an active boy who likes sports and bubbles over with energy. He is full of curiosity, and life is one big experiment for him. He is already showing a talent for mathematics.
Diana Gisela insists on doing whatever her brothers do, so her life is a thrilling game of follow-the-leader. At the same time, she is very feminine. She likes to dress in her mother’s clothes and act like a fine lady.
Although César looks at life seriously, he also knows how to have fun. He enjoys riding his bike and playing basketball and kickball with the other children in the military compound. He likes to draw pictures, is learning to play the piano, and delights in singing Primary songs. He eagerly bashes birthday piñatas, and he loves any activity with the family—whether it’s a visit to Monte Albán or a quiet game of dominoes.
Like most boys, he enjoys eating. Oaxaca is well known in Mexico for its delicious food, including its own unique tamale and seven different flavors of mole ( a sauce made from chocolate and pepper). César’s favorite food is his mom’s chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers). He willingly gives up such treats each fast Sunday, however. “I feel good afterward,” he says. “I feel blessed.” He knows already that spiritual food is the only kind that lasts.
In Spanish-speaking cultures, the mother’s maiden name is often added after the father’s family name.