Abel and Camila León Sifuentes of Trujillo, Peru


Abel and Camila León Sifuentes of Trujillo, Peru

Dancing and singing. Playing the flute. Swimming and running races. Playing soccer and basketball. These are some of the activities that Camila León Sifuentes and her brother, Abel, of Los Laureles Ward, Trujillo Peru Laureles Stake, enjoy.

Other activities also keep them busy: Doing chores around the house. Helping care for their younger sisters—María Fé and María Pía (four-year-old twins) and the new baby, Valeria. And taking care of 12 colorful parakeets that live in cages in the courtyard. As Camila feeds the parakeets, she explains, “Mama says every day is their birthday, because they are always happy and singing.”

Something else also keeps Camila and Abel busy: Being prepared. Eight-year-old Camila was recently baptized and confirmed, and 11-year-old Abel is looking forward to receiving the Aaronic Priesthood soon. Both say it is important to prepare carefully for these steps in life.

“I wanted to be baptized,” says Camila, “because I wanted to feel closer to Heavenly Father and be strong in the Church.”

“And I want to receive the Aaronic Priesthood,” Abel says. “It will be a gift of great worth from the Lord. Before the Savior died, He gave the sacrament to His Apostles. When I’m a deacon, I’ll be able to serve the sacrament to people in my ward. It will be marvelous to have the priesthood.”

Abel struggles with a learning disability. But his parents, Hugo and Mary Ann, say that he is a hard worker, has a tender heart, and is making great progress. They are finding many ways to help Abel, Camila, and their other children prepare for life. “We’re trying to teach them how to make wise decisions,” says their dad.

Family home evening and one-on-one talks with parents have helped the most. “In family home evening we sing songs, read scriptures, pray, and have activities and refreshments,” says Camila. “All of us, even the twins, take turns conducting the meeting, giving lessons, and directing the music.”

Abel remembers a recent family home evening taught by his dad—who is also his stake president. “He gave us a lesson about the priesthood. He explained that the oath and covenant of the priesthood is a promise between God and man and that through the priesthood we can serve God and other people. I want to prepare well to receive it.”

Family prayer and scripture study are also important preparation. Each morning when the parents wake up the children, they all gather on the parents’ bed. There they sing a hymn, kneel and pray, and take turns reading scriptures aloud before having breakfast and getting ready for school. They talk about the principles in the scriptures.

“It’s really a challenge to get everybody up so early,” says their mom. “But since we’ve been studying the scriptures every morning, the children are understanding them better. When we didn’t do it, we felt we were sending our children out to school unprotected. But now they are going out into the world more prepared. We hope that during the day they might think of something we read about.”

Camila and Abel are also preparing by attending Primary, fasting, paying tithing, and taking notes during general conference broadcasts. They carry their scriptures to church with them. As a family they have traveled the eight hours to the Lima Peru Temple. The children visit the grounds while their parents are in the temple.

Talking with the bishop has helped too. “When I met with the bishop,” says Camila, “he said I should ask Heavenly Father if I should be baptized. So I prayed and asked God, and He told me yes. I felt the answer in my soul.”

Abel had an interview with the bishop to talk about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. “I’m grateful for my bishop and other leaders who guide me,” he says. Abel and his family recently attended a Priesthood Preview. All the boys turning 12 during the year were invited to attend the program with their parents and families. They heard talks and testimonies by leaders, teachers, and one of the boys. Abel and some of his friends stood up in front and sang “A Young Man Prepared” (Children’s Songbook, 166–67), a song about the priesthood. Parents gave letters to their sons encouraging them in their preparation. “I felt the Spirit there,” says Abel.

Camila and Abel feel that all of the preparation has been worth it. “When my father baptized me,” says Camila, “I felt joy. When he gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt as if I were in a temple. The Holy Ghost helps me feel at peace and come closer to God. He helps me know right from wrong.”

The Holy Ghost recently helped Camila make an important decision about her standards. “I wanted to dance in a presentation,” she says, “but the costumes all the girls were wearing were short skirts. I talked with my mother, and she said to pray about it and choose the right. I thought a lot about it and talked with my dance teacher. She said I could wear a longer skirt, and my grandmother made me one. As I danced I felt happy, and I felt the Holy Ghost with me. I was the only girl wearing a longer skirt, but nobody made fun of me. Some of my friends said they were learning from me.”

Abel and Camila are discovering that preparing for baptism and confirmation and for the priesthood is helping them prepare for other important events in life. They are looking forward to going on missions, being married in the temple, becoming parents, and serving in the Church.

“I want to make good decisions because I love Heavenly Father,” says Abel.

[photos] Photography by Marvin K. Gardner

[illustration] Border © PhotoSpin

[photos] Abel is preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, and Camila was recently baptized and confirmed. Left: With their parents, grandmother, and twin sisters. Below: Camila’s scripture case has the Lima Peru Temple stitched on the cover.

[photos] Above: “In family home evening we sing songs, read scriptures, pray, and have activities and refreshments,” says Camila. Below: “When I’m a deacon,” says Abel, “I’ll be able to serve the sacrament to people in my ward. It will be marvelous to have the priesthood.”

Marvin K. Gardner is a member of the Battle Creek Seventh Ward, Pleasant Grove Utah East Stake.