One Special Leader

I will always remember with gratitude one special leader who changed my life for the better. When I met her, I didn’t have many friends. I was not very talkative and would not smile at people. I didn’t participate in seminary or other activities. In fact, I went to church only on Sundays. And even then my thoughts wandered in Young Women class. Some of the girls tried to include me, but I closed myself off from them.

When this leader first tried to get close to me, she didn’t have much success. At first I didn’t even know her name. Then she gave me a job to do and began to depend on me. I accepted the responsibility only because I didn’t know how to tell her no. Then, before I even realized it, she started to become my friend. I began trying harder and harder to fulfill my calling, and I began paying attention in class. I even started attending seminary and other Church activities. I also made friends with the young people in my ward. Soon the gospel was the most important thing in my life.

Who started all these changes in my life? It was my leader. Today when I look into her eyes, I feel an immense love and gratitude. I am grateful to Heavenly Father for the opportunity of having such a special leader. I am grateful to her for preparing me and being with me on the day I received my endowment in the São Paulo Brazil Temple. I am grateful for her example of love, a love I try to apply in my own life.

Now that I am a Young Women leader in my ward, I hope I can do for my young women at least a part of what she did for me.

[illustration] Illustration by Keith Larsen

I Know Families Can Be Forever

I still remember that day. It could have been the most terrible day of my life if I hadn’t had the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was July 12, 2001, when my mother died of an illness that had struck on Sunday night and took her life the following Thursday morning. I was 16 years old. I had to miss exams in school to be with my family and attend my mother’s funeral services.

I went home from the funeral feeling completely undone. I had a great hole in my heart, a hole so huge I thought it would never heal. I lay down on the bed, broke into sobs, and asked myself, “Why did she have to go so soon? Why did she have to leave me?”

My 10-year-old brother and I decided to listen to some quiet Church hymns. I had that lonely, sad, comfortless feeling, and then a warm sensation came over me. I felt great peace and tranquillity. My sad expression vanished, as did the empty feeling in my chest.

I was still feeling this comforting spirit when I went with my family to the church where my relatives were mourning. All of my relatives were very sad, with some breaking into heartrending sobs. Deep pain was reflected in their faces. They looked at my family strangely, as if they wondered why we didn’t seem to feel as bad as they did. But my heart was beating calmly, and my whole body was filled with peace. I knew that the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, was calming our pain. He was also testifying that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live and that this is the true Church, with eternal covenants.

Afterward, I wrote in my journal: “Our mother didn’t want us to cry very much. I do feel sad, but still I have a great peace inside. I just have to be strong and live a good life so I can see her again. My faith and testimony have grown, and so have my desires to serve my God and my fellow man on a full-time mission. She will always be there, helping me stay on the right path. I know that families can be forever. On a day like today 15 years ago, my family and I were sealed as an eternal family in the Lima Peru Temple, and this is what comforts me.”

My family and I continue to experience many difficulties. But each time my testimony falters, I remember the time when the Holy Ghost comforted me and testified to me of the eternal truths of the gospel.

[illustration] Illustration by Keith Larsen

He Understands

As I was listening to the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, no. 136), I was comforted by the words, “He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.” I had never thought anyone would live to hear another’s complaint.

I began to realize that because I had experienced pain and sorrow, I had been privileged to feel and understand a little of what Jesus went through as He atoned for my sins.

He understands my pains and sorrow because He has felt them.

Now, as I pray, I feel closer to my Savior because I know He truly cares and understands everything I am experiencing.