Jose Perez

One of the greatest opportunities we have as brothers and sisters is help other people realize their own potential.  Sometimes those opportunities come all on their own, and we are just witnesses and partakers of them.  Such was the case one dark night in the Dominican Republic.

Sister Williams and I had been assigned by the bishop to visit various inactive members and families.  We got to work right away, and started visiting them every week.  One of these people was Ramon.  We was a big, jolly man, with a nice home and an eccentric personality.   Right after we started visiting him, he started coming back to church.  But we could tell that his heart was not in it, so we kept visiting.  One particularly dark night* we showed up for his house, and a buddy of his was there.  If there is one thing Dominicans love, it is having their friends listen to the missionaries.  Even the rebels on the street ask us to teach their friends.  Ramon was no exception.

We all went through the get-to-know-yous and the hymn and the prayer.  We were about to start the lesson when Ramon piped up.  He told his friend, Jose Perez, that we were missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that in the church we read the Book of Mormon.  Then he jumped up and ran out of the room.  He came back with a new copy of the Book of Mormon, and an old triple combination of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.  

He handed the new copy to Jose.  “This one is yours, and this one is mine.”  That animation for the scriptures kind of surprised us because we had been trying to get him to read his for three weeks.  Then he spent the next hour explaining every detail of the church and member-life to his friend.  We just sat there and listened.   Ramon was so energetic and excited.  We could never have shared anything with him that would have made him more excited about the gospel than what he was sharing with his buddy. 

Before we left, we invited Jose to church.  To our great excitement, he came.  He was there before Ramon and paid much more attention.  He was setting the example for his friend.  And so it continued.  He lived outside of our area, but the sisters we lived with took good care of him.  He was soon baptized and participating very actively in the church.  He worked on his family history and studied the scriptures.  I was so amazed at how the Lord had looked out for him and gotten him to Ramon’s house that night.  
Jose is in the red shirt.
One day he bore his testimony in church, and I got to hear his side.  He had been feeling pretty sad and depressed.  He felt something inside of him say to go to a church.  So he went to the closest church he knew.  But that church was closed.  So he went home.  But he still felt that way, so he went to find another church.  Again, that church was closed.  So as he sat home, desperate for something to give him peace, he decided to go to Ramon’s house for a visit.  He and Ramon were not close friends.  In reality, they were more like ex cousin-in-laws who kind of had heard of each other.  He took the ten minute walk to Ramon’s house, and was welcomed by a big, happy hug.  They had had very little to talk about, and were just sitting trying to make conversation when two girls called at the gate. 

What happened next changed his life and mine.  What I saw and heard was my inactive member sharing a testimony about eating chocolate at Family Home Evening and the fun activities at church – nothing doctrinal or particularly spiritual.  What Jose saw and heard was God answering the questions of his heart. 
Jose is in the striped shirt.

I had the opportunity to speak at his baptism, and I felt the spirit so powerfully as he sat there listening intently on my message.  His reaction to receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost was that of overwhelmed joy.  During our last week in that ward, we got to go visit him in his home, and he bore his testimony to Sister Williams and me of the power of the priesthood and temple work.   His conversion was manifest, not only with his words, but with the spirit that radiated across the room.

I know that God loves every one of us.  I know that He knows where we are and how to get us where we want to be.  He will use every one of His willing children to lift up those in need of lifting.  He will allow us to help others reach their potential, and reach our own in the process.  He will give us the greatest joy possible if we are but willing to share it and receive it.

*His street had no electricity at night and it got incredibly dark, which was stressful because somewhere in the street there was a hole and a speed bump.  And we never knew until it was too late...


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