I Am a Latter-day Saint
February 1995

“I Am a Latter-day Saint,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 67–68

“I Am a Latter-day Saint”

I had prepared long and hard for the entrance exams for a special school in my city of Chiclayo, Peru. I hoped to enter the elementary education program and learn to use my musical and dancing abilities to teach children. In fact, I was so determined, I spent my three-month vacation after high school graduation preparing for the exams.

Like all the best schools in Chiclayo, the school I was interested in was affiliated with the Catholic church. Because this school, which offers courses from kindergarten through university age, had earlier accepted my five-year-old brother, my mother and I assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem being accepted, even though I was a Latter-day Saint.

Finally, the day of the entrance exams arrived, and I took the talent portion of the exam—in which we sang, played, and danced with children.

Later, when the time came for my personal interview with a panel of judges, I prayed before going into the room. The three judges began asking about my talents and background. I told them that I belonged to the Municipal Ballet of Chiclayo, that I had finished twelve cycles on the piano, and that I had placed first in the Marinera and Huayno—folkloric dances.

Then they asked me what church I belonged to. I answered, “I am a Latter-day Saint.” The judges looked very surprised, but I felt peaceful inside. They asked me if I knew that no one outside of the Catholic religion could be admitted. I replied that I knew God and Jesus Christ lived—therefore, I was a Christian. I concluded by saying that I believed in free agency and knew that I had chosen the truth.

Looking me in the eyes, they told me that I could definitely not be admitted because of my religion, and they asked me if I wasn’t embarrassed for what I had said. Words of the Apostle Paul came into my mind: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). Then they told me I could leave the room.

All my dreams seemed to have shattered in front of me. I thought of how long I had waited for this opportunity and of all that my mother had sacrificed to help me achieve it. But still, my testimony of the Church was strong. I knew that it was worth far more than my entrance into a school.

When I arrived home and told my mother what had happened, she left for the school. She asked the assistant director why I was disqualified when my little brother had been allowed to enroll. The woman replied that five-year-old Luis Enrique wasn’t responsible for what he believed, but that I, a sixteen-year-old, was.

My mother then spoke to the judges. She told them about the Church and about our beliefs in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ. She told them some of our experiences since becoming members in 1983—and about the changes that had occurred in our home as a result. The judges told her, “Don’t worry. We will follow up on this.”

Mother told me that we should trust in the Lord and that everything would be fine. She also suggested that we both begin a fast.

Later that afternoon, we discovered that I had passed the talent portion of the exams! Now I needed to pass the knowledge test the next day.

I stayed up all night studying. Before starting the test early the next morning, I prayed. The exam seemed easy. I was one of the first students to finish it, and I quickly went home to be with my mother and aunt. We waited all afternoon for the hours to pass—and for the results to be posted.

That evening, I left for school to see the results, praying all the way there. When I got to the office, I read through the acceptance list. My name was on it! The Lord had answered our fasting and prayers.

Busy at my new school, I carried my scriptures with me all the time. One of my favorite verses was Matthew 5:16 [Matt. 5:16]: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

I know more than ever that I must never hide my testimony. I must always be proud to say, “I am a Latter-day Saint.”

  • Yesenia Luisana Paola, a member of the Barrio Central Second Ward, serves as stake choir director and as a counselor in the stake Primary presidency of the Chiclayo Peru Central Stake.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson