It was the start of a fine spring day in Spain in 1983, and the barracks felt more confining to me than usual. But I was looking forward to this day because in the midst of my one-year mandatory service in the Spanish military, I had been given a one-day leave. I took great care in dressing so no flaw in my uniform would prevent me from passing inspection and leaving. My plan was to take a military bus to the city of Burgos, meet my friend Ricardo, and spend the day with him.
I had no problems with the inspection, and soon I met Ricardo, who was waiting with his car in Burgos. To my surprise, he had brought along a mutual friend, a young woman named Mari Carmen. I had first met Mari Carmen while she was serving as a missionary in Galicia, the region of Spain I am from. I was delighted to see her again, and the three of us decided to spend the day at a nearby park.
Ricardo parked his car at a quiet spot on the banks of the Arlanzón River, and we talked about our lives and the experiences we were having. I told them that the army had really put me to the test, spiritually speaking. Despite some pressure, I was keeping the commandments. But I felt bad that I was not able to exercise the Melchizedek Priesthood, which I hold, because there were no opportunities to do so. At times I had even wondered if I was still worthy of those divine powers.
Mari Carmen told us that she, too, was having a difficult time. She was seeing a man who had asked her to marry him, and she felt overwhelmed with the importance of making the right decision.
When the day drew to a close, Mari Carmen asked me if I would give her a priesthood blessing for additional strength and guidance. I was surprised at her request and also apprehensive. I did not feel prepared to give her a blessing, nor did I feel I could give her the help she needed. But at her insistence I decided I would try.
We went back to the car, and Mari Carmen sat in the front while Ricardo and I sat in the back. I asked Ricardo to say a prayer first so the Spirit would inspire my words and the power of the priesthood would be in my hands. His prayer immediately brought me a feeling of peace, and my fears vanished.
Then, assured that we were in a quiet place and would not be observed or disturbed, I placed my hands on Mari Carmen’s head. As I began to speak, words of comfort and encouragement came abundantly to my lips. I have never been able to remember exactly what I said, but when I finished, my heart was filled with emotion and Mari Carmen’s face was bathed in tears. She told me the things I had said were exactly what she needed to hear. She now felt she could make a correct decision concerning the marriage proposal.
Ricardo quickly moved into the driver’s seat so he could get me back to the bus stop on time. Before I knew it, I was saying good-bye to my friends and boarding a dirty military bus. But even the marked contrast in environment could not erase the feeling that had come over me—the assurance that the Lord blesses people by the power of the priesthood. As I lay on my bunk that night, I again felt an overpowering sensation of peace pass through my being. I was grateful to my Father in Heaven for his confidence in me.
Seven or eight months later, my friend Ricardo was married, and I went to Madrid to attend his wedding. Mari Carmen, who had recently married the man she had told us about, was also there with her husband, Fernando. Fernando gripped my hand firmly and looked me in the eye. “I am so grateful,” he said, “that you were able to give a blessing to the person who is now my wife. Thank you very much.”
His words left a deep impression on me. I cannot imagine a greater privilege than acting in the name of the Lord to bless the lives of people like Mari Carmen and Fernando.