[July 7, 2015] Tuesday
Let me cover some history before I tell you about a sweet experience in the temple this afternoon.
In December of 1975, I had been in Punata for about two months. The valley where Punata is has three main towns - Punata, Arani, and Cliza. All of them were fairly small, and we tried to spend time in each town. At the time, the people in Cliza were more receptive to our efforts than Arani, so we would go over to Cliza quite often.
The road between Punata and Cliza was dirt, and it was about 10 miles between them. We'd leave in the morning, walking, and sometimes be able to catch a ride in a cattle truck (in back with the cows), or some other vehicle hauling fruits or vegetables or other freight. I don't know how many times we walked the whole way, but I don't think it was too many. Visiting Cliza was pretty much an all day affair.
In reviewing my journal, I'm surprised at how often we made that trip. There are notes of quite a few people who were interested, and we had a lot of discussions over there with them.
In my journal, on December 6th, 1975, I made a note that a young man named Demetrio Carballo had come from Cliza to Punata to attend church. Unfortunately, I don't have any notes about how we met him over there, or what we had said, so I'm thinking it must have been a brief visit, or even a visit with someone who knew him and referred him to us. He was about 18 years old, and very quiet, but very intelligent.
On December 13th, my journal reports the following:
"Went to Cliza today - had a great Charla "C" (the one about the restoration of the gospel, the Book of Mormon, prophets, etc.) with Demetrio Carballo. Super - ate everything up - prayed great etc. It was so good, I walked off without my camera. Then we went to [another family] who own the heladeria (ice cream shop - I didn't remember this one), and set them up for a discussion on Saturday. Then to [another family] - they weren't three, so we turned to leave, and Demetrio came up to us with my camera. He'd followed us to give it to me, and I hadn't even thought about it 'til then when I saw it."
I was impressed by his honesty and diligence. He came to church the next day (all the way from Cliza), and participated in everything.
On December 20th, my journal reports:
"Went to Cliza - had a great Charla with Demetrio. We challenged him to be baptized. He accepted like that had always been his goal!"
On December 27th, my journal reports the following:
"We baptized Demetrio today. Interviewing him was a pleasure. He knew what he was doing, he's got a testimony, and wants to be strong in the church. I baptized him - the water was cold! I feel he'll be a good member - I sure hope so!"
When I returned to Punata some eight months later, he was still active, and had been recommended to be ordained an Elder. I felt fortunate that I was able to be there and participate in that sweet ordination with him.
That's the back story. On returning here to Bolivia, I had hoped to be able to meet Demetrio again. Over the past couple of weeks, I have asked around, and I had found that he was living here in Cochabamba, attending the Universidad ward, and serving as a secretary in the Stake. Hno. Carlos Pedraja knew him, and told me he would get an address so I could go and visit him.
So, this afternoon, as I was serving in the temple, I had an assignment that required me to talk to each brother who was attending the temple for the last session of the day. In the course of the conversation, I needed to know each brother's last name.
As I introduced myself, I asked this one brother what his last name was. "Carballo", he answered. Obviously suspicious now, but not recognizing this brother, I asked, "What is your first name?"
"Demetrio", he replied, with a grin on his face. He had recognized me. Hno. Pedraja had told him that I was a temple missionary, and he had actually come last Saturday to meet me. He had seen me, but I was busy working with someone else, and he didn't want to interrupt, so he came back today.
After I finished my assignment, I had 20 minutes or so free, so I sat down with him and visited. He is now married with three children. He baptized his wife, and they, along with their children, have been sealed in the temple. He teaches math, and has a Master's degree. He still knows a number of the members of the little Punata branch - Brother Mendez and his family moved to Santa Cruz. He has been a Bishop, and one of his sons is a Stake President there.
What a sweet reunion with another one of God's choice, humble, sincere children here in Bolivia. I feel amazingly blessed to have known, and been so influenced by these sweet people.