Ana Cumandá Rivera
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“Ana Cumandá Rivera,” Friend, June 2021

Pioneers in Every Land

Ana Cumandá Rivera

Missionary and Reading Teacher in Ecuador

“Where do you need me to serve?”

Illustrations for Ana Cumandá Rivera

Sister Ana Rivera braided her long dark hair and pulled her scripture bag over her shoulder. Another day of her mission was about to begin. She was excited to see what miracles lay ahead!

Ana and her companion, Sister Carrascal, walked outside into the morning air. They could see tall volcanoes in the distance as they walked through the village. They were some of the first missionaries to be serving in the Otavalo area. The Church in Ecuador was still new, but it was growing.

Hola!” they said as they greeted one of the families they were teaching. A mother, father, and several children gathered for a lesson.

“Today we are going to teach about prophets,” Ana’s companion said. Ana and Sister Carrascal took turns explaining how God calls prophets to teach about Jesus Christ.

When it was time to read, Ana opened her Book of Mormon. Ana always read the scripture verses because Sister Carrascal couldn’t read or write. Sister Carrascal was still a powerful missionary.

“I know that what we’ve shared today is true,” Ana said at the end of the lesson. “Will you pray to know for yourself?”

The family nodded. Ana felt warm in her heart.

At the end of the day, Sister Carrascal said, “Can you teach me to read and write?”

Ana didn’t know what to say. She had never taught someone to read before. She didn’t know if she could do it.

“I can try,” Ana finally said. “I don’t know if I’ll be a good teacher.”

Sister Carrascal smiled big. “Just teach me,” she said. “I will pray to Heavenly Father to help me understand.”

Ana was amazed by Sister Carrascal’s faith. “OK. I’ll do it!” she said.

Each morning, Ana worked hard to help Sister Carrascal learn. They practiced writing letters. They sounded out words. They prayed for help. Eventually, Sister Carrascal was reading scripture verses, one word at a time!

When Ana finished her mission, she returned to her home in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito.

But she still wanted to serve. “Heavenly Father,” she prayed, “I want to keep serving, and I need to find a job. Please help me know how I can work and still help people.”

One day Ana’s prayer was answered. A man named Brother Mesa came to her house. He worked for the Church Educational System.

“Ana,” he said, “the Church needs volunteers to teach people how to read. Are you willing to help?”

“Yes!” Ana said. “Where do you need me to serve?”

He smiled. “Back in Otavalo!”

Ana smiled as she imagined being back in the villages she loved. She was grateful for the gifts Heavenly Father had given her to share—the gift of reading and the gift of the gospel. Both were miracles.

Otavalo is a region in Ecuador in the Andes Mountains.

Today there are more than 250,000 members of the Church in Ecuador.

Soon there will be two temples in Ecuador.

Ana was baptized in 1974. She served her mission a year later.

Ana volunteered for seven years to help people read.

Ana’s favorite Primary song is “A Child’s Prayer.”

Friend Magazine, Global 2021/06 Jun

Illustrations by Rodrigo Cordeiro