Much of the work women do in the world is quiet work. Rocking a baby through a dark night of illness. Measuring handfuls of rice to suit a day’s need. Finding words of comfort to fit a friend’s grief. It is humble work, this tending to spirit and body.
It is not surprising that many women who so serve are especially responsive to the message of the Master who taught, “If any … desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35.) When these women find the gospel, they rejoice, their ability to bless is increased.
Eight years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball highlighted the role such women are playing in the kingdom in this final dispensation: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. … These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility.” (In General Conference, October, 1979.)
Who are some of these good women—humble, spiritual, and full of integrity—who are coming into and strengthening the Church in great numbers? They are women from throughout the world who hear the Lord’s voice and seek to serve him with all their hearts. In the next few months, the Tambuli will feature some of these women.
The twenty-five children who are learning to read and write on Lubian Sequi’s patio are poor—too poor to afford shoes or uniforms or supplies for public school. Some have no beds at home, but sleep in cardboard boxes on the ground.
Sister Sequi is a small, lovely woman with a smile that warms and comforts. On the chalkboard she has written the words Dios Me Ama (“God Loves Me”). Besides teaching her students reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, science, and etiquette, Sister Sequi begins each day’s classes with a prayer and a lesson from the Bible. She also encourages the children to pray with their families. Sister Sequi provides pencils, notebooks, and chalk for the children who cannot afford them. She uses a lot of visual aids to help the children learn.
Sister Sequi has found most of her students on the streets of Santo Domingo. “Whenever I see a dirty, barefoot, or neglected child, I say to him, ‘Come here. Don’t be afraid. Where do you live?’” Then she goes home with the child to ask permission for the child to attend school in her home.
Once a month, she invites the parents to an evening meeting where they can see how their children are progressing. She also gives a talk to help the parents spiritually and morally. “Our intention is to teach the parents so that they can teach their children better,” she says. Although it is not Sister Sequi’s primary goal to convert, at least one student’s family has been baptized since coming to her school.
Sister Sequi has a college degree in elementary education and has taught in the public schools for twenty-four years. She has also been a nurse and a social worker. “In spite of my imperfections, I have always had a great attraction to other people, especially the poor,” she says. When she was Catholic, she would sometimes go to the countryside on a donkey, taking clothes to the people and preaching the gospel.
Her experience as a nurse also affected her deeply. “I learned to love a lot in the hospitals because there is a lot of love and pain there. Each time I had to take care of a patient, I would ask myself, ‘If he were Jesus, how would I care for him?’ With this idea in mind, I learned to greatly love the sick, without fear, nausea, or grief, but rather to see in each person the image of the Lord.”
In 1961 Lubian Sequi founded a vocational school to teach young women skills that can help them live a better life. She still administers this school, where more than three hundred students learn sewing, tailoring, pastry making, weaving, and other manual skills. The school is supported by a nominal tuition, which varies according to the students’ ability to pay.
Sister Sequi and her husband, Felix, married in 1972 and were baptized in 1980. They had discovered the Church at a welfare fair held by the sister missionaries. “I was first attracted to the Church by its concern with helping families and also by its philosophy that the gospel is to be taken to everyone,” she recalls. Since then she has served as Relief Society president. Her husband is the director for the Church Education System in the Dominican Republic. The Sequis have had three children—a son, fifteen; a daughter, twelve; and another daughter who has died. Sister Sequi’s twelve-year-old daughter is often with her, helping her in her work.
Right now, Lubian Sequi is working to set up a clothing outlet. She hopes to have the sisters in the Church meet one afternoon a week to sew clothing made from fabric remnants donated by a local institution. The clothes can then be distributed to the poor, inside and outside of the Church. She is also looking for a house where severely handicapped children can live and receive care.
Sister Sequi explains that her goal on earth is to work untiringly first for her family and then on behalf of others. She compares her work to that of building a house. She says, “My goal is not to build a house in this life because nothing is permanent here. I want to build our house in heaven because we will be there forever.” She feels a constant need to repent. Otherwise, she feels that all her work will be to no avail. And she feels that it is her work that strengthens her faith and hope in the Lord.
To six-year-old Jeffrey Montero and his young classmates, the pretty lady who is teaching them to read is a very important person, indeed. After all, without her, they might never have the tools they will need to build a better life. But Sister Sequi feels that she is insignificant. “The Lord uses his children to do good for others,” she simply concludes.