“The House That Faith Built,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 70–71
On the eve of my wife’s and my baptism in 1996, family members and friends tried to prevent it. We endured persecution from relatives who severely criticized our family, saying we had traded our family for the Church and they no longer loved us. Eventually our friends completely abandoned us. Then came difficulties associated with unemployment and with illness.
On the other hand, my family and I felt better with each visit to church. At each class the Spirit was stronger. The members were supportive, and the bishop visited and encouraged our family. We knew from our own experience that people who criticized the Church were wrong. The Church was doing us much good. We learned about Jesus Christ. We learned to love and serve. We gained an eternal perspective. In spite of the appearance that everything had turned against us, nothing could change the fact that we had asked the Lord about the truthfulness of the gospel and He had answered our prayers.
Once, when we were still new converts and were living in my father’s house, the bishop came to visit. My father threw him out. He said he did not want members of the Church in his house. The bishop was inspired to call us in for an interview. He said that members and missionaries were not going to visit us in our home for a while so as not to antagonize our family. He said that we needed to be strong and that we would receive many blessings if we continued on the strait and narrow path.
We could not move to a house of our own due to my employment situation. I could not find good work as I had done before. I worked a little at jobs that didn’t pay much, but we managed to pay our tithes and offerings, attend church, and buy the food we needed. The Lord multiplied our blessings, and we were truly happy.
On the day of our temple sealing, when I saw our two sons—Luigi, who was then two, and Lucas, who was then one—entering the sealing room and placing their hands on ours for the ordinance to be performed, I wept out of happiness. I cannot forget the beautiful scene, the wonderful spirit, and the feeling I had that it had been worth all the effort.
The trials did not cease, but some things improved. My father and our aunts and uncles stopped criticizing the Church, and our grandparents respected our decision. By our example we tried to show that the Church was transforming our lives. The support we gave to each other was very important. When I taught seminary and served as a counselor in the bishopric, my wife always sustained me.
The year we were baptized a friend bought a building lot for his family and ours by loaning us part of the money. We began to dream of having our own house. Eventually the Spirit prompted us, and we started calculating the cost of labor and materials. We felt that we would somehow manage to build a house where we could raise our children in the gospel, do missionary work, and receive visits from members.
After some time I got better acquainted with Brother Joel, a recently baptized member of our ward. His faith was amazing. Once when we were doing a service project, Brother Joel said to me, “José Luis, we can build your house.” I was on the verge of tears, but I contained myself until I told my wife. It was the answer to our prayers.
A few days later the friend who had purchased the land for his family and ours told me I could have the entire plot and pay for it later. Still I did not have the kind of job that would allow me to buy building materials, but I knew the Lord would provide a way. Several weeks later I was invited to work for a large company. Thus, our goal to begin building a house soon became a reality.
What a labor of love was Brother Joel’s. He did more than build a house for my family. He was ready to help us in any way. We worked only on Saturdays. It took 10 months, and it did not interfere with our Church work. Other Church members also helped us. My father came to help several times, which allowed him to get to know members of the Church better. He especially got to know Brother Joel, who had become our home teacher.
One Saturday my father praised Brother Joel for the way he worked.
I said, “Dad, do you know how much I have paid for his services?”
He said, “No.”
“I haven’t paid him a cent,” I said. “He has done this service because he loves my family. He is a good man.”
I realized my father was choked up, and he didn’t say anything. I felt he was probably remembering how he had treated the bishop and the missionaries and was embarrassed. He saw that the members of the Church had always treated us well.
On the day we finished the house, 16 men, most of them members of the Church, were there. My relatives and friends who were not members certainly learned a lot that day.
While the house was being built, my brother and sister-in-law took the discussions and decided to get married so they could be baptized. On the day of their wedding, I witnessed what seemed like another miracle: four missionaries and many Church members were in my father’s house.
We know this gospel is true. When we exercise faith, the Lord moves mountains to help us. Today I see the walls of our house as a testimony that the Lord loves His children and knows their needs. Of course, we have many other mountains before us, but if we are faithful, we shall overcome. We must always remember what the Lord has done for us.