“Carlos L. Pedraja: ‘I Didn’t Go to Russia’” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 29
An experience that helps me remember how important the Church is to me happened a few months before I found the Church. I had filled all the requirements to receive a study scholarship to go to school in Russia. For some reason my papers were lost in the mail and I was unable to go, which disturbed me a great deal. But because I was still in Bolivia, I met the missionaries. Thinking about the prospect of having received those papers and missing out on finding the Church has been a cause for special reflection.
During a visit President Kimball made to Bolivia eight years ago, he challenged me to go on a mission. I was the first missionary to be called from my country, and something that I will always appreciate was the opportunity to work among my own people for part of my mission. One time we were teaching an elderly man who only spoke Aymara. The day before his baptism we found him ill in bed with a very high fever. Through the brother who served as our interpreter, we counseled the elderly man to postpone his baptism. Extremely emotional, he sat up in bed and said, “The Lord wants me to be baptized tomorrow and so it will be. You have the priesthood and I beg you to give me a blessing of health.” It was a great lesson to us. We administered to the elderly man and the next day, early in the morning, he was waiting for us, healthy and strong and ready to go into the waters of baptism.
Many and very great are the blessings the Lord has given me, and I know that one of the greatest blessings to me is to know that my ancestors received wonderful promises that are now being fulfilled and that influence the destiny of my country and its inhabitants.