An Eternal Embrace

By Eduardo Pantoja Solis

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    As I filled out the papers for my mission, I felt very excited. I had great desires to serve. At the same time, however, I had another feeling—an undefinable one. It was a calm but unusual prompting. Not knowing what to make of it, I paid it little attention.

    When I received the call to labor in my own country, in the Mexico Mérida Mission, I felt the approval of the Lord. That other prompting also returned, but this time I felt that I knew what it meant. I sensed somehow that when I returned from my mission, one of my loved ones might not be there. I felt that this prompting was from the Lord because I felt calm and had no fear.

    My father, my mother, and my nephew Israel went with me to the Missionary Training Center. As we said goodbye, I gave my father a warm hug. As we embraced, I felt his love for me—and at that moment, I felt again the prompting I had felt before.

    From the beginning of my mission, I felt the Lord’s love for me. And from time to time thereafter I continued to receive the prompting that my father might not be there to greet me when I returned home. I never felt afraid, only willing that the Lord’s will be done.

    On Mother’s Day in 1993 I was given the opportunity to make a telephone call to my mother. As we talked, I heard a sadness in her voice that she couldn’t hide.

    “Mom, what is going on?” I asked.

    “Nothing, son. Just keep working hard.”

    “I will. But I want to know what’s happening.”

    Then she told me, “Your father is very sick. He can no longer walk, and the doctors have diagnosed a tumor in his head. You must be strong, no matter what happens.”

    My father asked to speak with me and was brought to the telephone. In a failing voice, he said, “Son, your calling came from the Lord. Do not worry, and do not stop working. Keep preaching the gospel.” I told him I would, but his energy had failed and he was no longer listening.

    Three weeks later, he died. When I received the news, all the experiences we had shared together passed through my mind. Because of his faithfulness and good example, I had come to treasure him with all my heart.

    Upon my father’s death, my older sister, who was not a member of the Church, insisted that I come home. My mission president had given me permission to do so, but I felt my missionary work was too important to leave. And, I decided, my father would want me to stay. I prayed that Heavenly Father would help my sister understand. He answered my prayer. When I spoke to my sister on the telephone, her heart had changed. She was not angry with my decision and told me, “I know that your church is very important and that you are doing something good. I support you.”

    Heavenly Father continued to console me throughout my mission. When I returned home, my great friend and teacher was not there to greet me. But I was strengthened by my faith in the Savior’s atonement and resurrection. I am grateful that I was able to be sealed to my parents the day before I entered the Missionary Training Center. I know that the day will come when I will see my father again and embrace him with eternal love.

    Eduardo Pantoja Solis with a stone lion in Mexico City’s Alameda Park. (Photograph by José Gonzalez Loperena.)