Pablo and Hugo Varela of Waterloo, Belgium


Pablo and Hugo Varela of Waterloo, Belgium

Located in the heart of northern Europe is the country of Belgium. Near the center of Belgium is the historic town of Waterloo, where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in battle by England’s Duke of Wellington in 1815. Today, Pablo Varela, age 11, and Hugo Varela, age 7, live in the peaceful town of Waterloo with their two older brothers, Pedro, age 20, and Diego, age 19, and their parents, Jorge and Camille.

The town’s beautiful countryside is covered with rolling farmlands marked by a memorial mound called La Butte du Lion (the Lion’s Mount). It is 30.5 meters high and was created long ago by Belgian housewives who carried bucketfuls of soil, often in baskets on their backs, to the point where Holland’s Prince of Orange was wounded in the battle of Waterloo. Visitors can climb the mount’s 226 steps to the observation deck, look up at the huge statue of a lion that tops it, and then look out over the picturesque countryside.

In 1997 the Varela family made modern-day Belgian history. They joined other Church members—as well as some nonmembers—in a pioneer parade in Charleroi, Belgium, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. The parade was the largest in Belgium’s history! Dressed in pioneer clothing, the Varelas, 160 missionaries, and more than 1,500 other people from wards and branches in the area paraded down the street with wagons, handcarts, horses, buggies, and bands. The Varelas know that as well as being an important event in Belgian and Church history, the parade was also a great missionary tool; about 6,000 people gathered to watch it.

Pablo knows the importance of missionary work. He tries to be a missionary at school by being a good example to his friends. He has told them what it’s like to be a Church member. He has shared the Articles of Faith with one particular friend, given him several pamphlets, and invited him to church. Pablo has a testimony of the Word of Wisdom and has told his schoolteachers that coffee and smoking are not good for them.

Also a good example to his friends, Hugo tries to “live the way Jesus would want me to by being kind to others.” In school, Hugo enjoys reading and mathematics, especially multiplication. Language classes in Dutch, French, and English are an important part of the school’s curriculum. Pablo is also studying Latin. Spanish is important in their lives, too, because their father is from a small village in northern Spain. Their mother is of Belgian and Italian descent.

The boys help with the household chores. They try their best to keep their rooms clean. Setting the table, cleaning the bathtub, and taking the silverware out of the dishwasher keep Hugo busy. Pablo cleans the bathroom sink, vacuums, and feeds the family cat, Mustache.

The boys have fun playing rugby, riding bikes, roller-skating, watching TV, and playing board games together. They also have their own interests. Hugo is involved in fencing. Pablo has already earned his orange belt in judo and is now learning techniques for the green belt.

Music is an important part of Pablo’s life. His talent was quickly recognized by his family when he began playing the Church hymns on the violin by ear! He enjoys playing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” and “I Am a Child of God.” He has performed violin solos in sacrament meeting.

The Varela family attends the Louise Ward, Brussels Belgium Stake, where Sister Varela teaches the Gospel Doctrine class, Brother Varela teaches a weekly religion class for the youth, Pedro teaches a youth Sunday School class, and Diego works in the meetinghouse library. Pablo greets the children at the door in Primary and keeps his Valiant classroom in order by putting materials away. Hugo is preparing for his baptism by learning the Articles of Faith, studying about Jesus Christ, and being reverent in his CTR class. “I Am a Child of God” is his favorite song.

Pablo enjoys family home evening because “we are all together.” He likes it when everyone sits around the table with their scriptures and has a turn reading. Hugo also likes to read the scriptures with the family, especially when his parents ask questions afterward. If someone answers a question correctly, he or she is rewarded with sweets.

At family night the Varelas often read about members of the Church in the Church magazines, then locate where those members live on a world map. Hugo likes to help find the locations, mark them, and then link them with pieces of yarn. Those locations may be far from the Varelas’ Belgian town, but the Varelas know the Church and the gospel connect them to those members in faraway places.

So what do these two young brothers do to build the Church and the gospel in their part of the world? Hugo brings joy to others because he is happy, full of smiles, and eager to help. Pablo enriches others’ lives with his spirituality, sensitivity to the scriptures, musical talents, and awareness of people’s feelings.

[photos] Photography by Corliss Clayton

[photos] Above: Countryside near Waterloo, Belgium. Below: La Butte du Lion was built on the spot where Holland’s Prince of Orange was wounded in the battle at Waterloo. Bottom: Mother, Pedro, Father, Hugo, Pablo, and Grandmother dressed in their pioneer parade outfits.

[photos] Far left: Playing the violin is one of Pablo’s talents. Left: Hugo enjoys roller-skating.