My mother is a very special woman. I am the oldest of eight sons, and I also have seven sisters. With such a large family, my mother had great responsibilities. The best thing my mother did for us was to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She gave us the opportunity to learn about the gospel. This opportunity changed our lives.
I remember the day we received the missionaries. I was about 10 or 11 years old. The missionaries shared a message about the First Vision. As soon as my mother listened, she was converted. She believed Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son.
We began to attend church. I didn’t want to accept the gospel at first, but the missionaries persuaded me to see what it was all about. As soon as I did, I loved it. I am so grateful for my mother. She received a testimony during that first visit of the missionaries. From her baptism until today, she never missed a Church meeting.
My mother was a tremendous support to us. She always cleaned our white shirts on Saturdays so they would be ready to wear on Sundays. We would polish our shoes and the shoes of our youngest brothers and sisters. We lived in a poor neighborhood in Guatemala, and our neighbors would laugh at us on Sundays as we wore our white shirts and ties to church.
My mother always gave us courage to do the right. Because of her influence, we were very active in the Church. I remember that at one time, my father served as the Sunday School president, my older sister served as the Primary president, my mother served as the Relief Society president, and four of my brothers passed, prepared, and blessed the sacrament.
Because of our financial needs, my father expected me to help earn money for the family. I wanted to serve a mission, but when I turned 19 years old, he asked that I wait one year to serve my mission so I could continue working to help my family. When I turned 20 years old, he asked that I wait another year to serve.
Just before I turned 21 years old, he wanted to request that I wait one more year. But my mother told him, “Let him go serve, and it will bless us.” This really happened. Before my mission, only a younger brother and I had worked to help support the family. As soon as I went on my mission, two more of my brothers and my two oldest sisters started working, so my family did better financially.
Every blessing and call that I have received in the Church have led me to admire my mother more. In every part of my life, I remember her excellent influence and example. My mother had only a basic education, but her knowledge of the truths of the gospel and her practical knowledge and understanding of life were superior.
My childhood was happy because I always had my mother at home taking care of me. She had a great sense of humor, and she would always find ways to have fun. She took hours and hours to share with us stories about her childhood and about my grandma and aunts and uncles and her relationship with them.
I believe in the commandment to honor our parents. Everything I do, even today, is because of the influence of my mother.