Friend to Friend


Elder Lino Álvarez

Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I was “born of goodly parents.” There were twelve children—mostly boys, only two girls—in my family. I was the tenth child. For many years my father had to work far from home as a construction worker. Sometimes he was away for weeks. My mother worked hard taking care of us. She worked miracles with the little money that Father earned.

When I was only about four years old, I lived in a small town in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. The town had perhaps a hundred people in it. Here, I first became aware of the Bible. Some men who taught Bible stories to children came once a week. From the very first time I heard the Bible stories, I loved them.

My father was very fond of reading the Bible. He wasn’t a Catholic, but my mother was. She took us to the Catholic church from the time we were small. Then, in 1956, when I was twelve, the LDS missionaries came to our home. They were not only competent but very inspired in getting my mother and us children involved. Each time they came, they read something to us from the scriptures—almost always from the Book of Mormon—and the next time they came, they asked us to report on what they had told us and on what we had read. The three of us children still at home were baptized with my father and mother six months later.

When I was baptized, I was already too old for Primary. Even so, I attended it for two years. I held the priesthood, but the branch was small and the Primary teachers were so good that I went there. I loved Primary and am especially grateful to three outstanding teachers—Olga Ramos, Lida del Bosque, and Irma Torres—because it was through their teaching that I learned the gospel.

After I was baptized, the Church became my world. I loved being at church with the other members. I remember many times being there on Saturdays with the deacons, cleaning the chapel and preparing it for Sunday. I also participated in Mutual activities. From seeing the missionaries in Primary and at home, I decided early in my life to go on a mission. When I served my mission, I was very happy. I served two years in the west of Mexico.

Children, obey the Lord’s commandments. Decide now to go on a mission and to marry in the temple. If you decide in your minds and hearts now, while you are young, to do these things, you will be good missionaries, good spouses, and good parents. I believe that what the world needs most is good mothers and good fathers guiding their families.

Children, keep away from those things that would separate you from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ—things like lying, stealing, using drugs, violating the Word of Wisdom, doing whatever the prophets have taught us are wrong.

Be careful in choosing your friends. Good friends help us to do good things; bad friends influence us to do bad things.

Prepare now for a mission. Keep yourself morally clean. If you keep yourself clean and worthy in every way, if you take the sacrament worthily every Sunday, you will be very powerful missionaries and later you will be leaders in the Church.

I love the children of the earth. With the power and authority that I have as a General Authority, I bless you that you can gain all the blessings that your parents want for you. Where you live is not important, nor the color of your skin or your eyes or your hair. Everyone on earth is a son or daughter of God, and He wants us to return to Him as clean and innocent and worthy as we were when we were born.

[photos] Opposite page: Lino (left) with his mother and his cousin Gabriel. Above: The baby at one year old, the boy at 12 when he graduated from grade school, and the man when he was called as a Seventy; Elder and Sister Álvarez and their children. Right: As a young man with his father.