Church History
The Power of the Spirit

The Power of the Spirit

Jesus taught that the Spirit, like the wind, “bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth” (John 3:8). Shortly after the Church was established in Chile, the Spirit began to reach people around the country.

One day in 1961, the wind blew a few pages from a Reader’s Digest describing the Church toward Juan Benavidez of Arica. He picked up the pages and read them. The missionaries had not yet reached Arica, one of the northernmost cities in Chile, but soon after this experience, Benavidez visited his sister in Santiago. While there he learned she had joined the Church. He accepted her invitation to go to a special conference. Benavidez later testified that he began to receive his testimony when he heard the opening prayer. “I felt a great joy throughout my entire body,” he said, “and recognized the influence of the Holy Spirit.”

When Benavidez returned to Arica, he shared his experience with his girlfriend and future wife, Gladys Aguilar. Just two days later, Aguilar saw two missionaries pass by, and she and Benavidez sought them out. Benavidez, Aguilar, and Aguilar’s family were the first to be baptized in Arica. “I am so grateful to the Lord for that gust of wind that blew the information about the Church into my hands,” Benavidez later said.

In a stormy period of her life, Irma de McKenna of Quilpué received solace from a remarkable manifestation. Despite lack of support from her husband and mother, she had joined the Church. Although she was happy to be a member, her family’s antagonism caused “pain which tore [her] soul.”

One night after feeling particularly inadequate in defending the Church from attacks by her family, her pain was almost more than she could bear. She poured out her feelings in prayer and pledged to study the scriptures to be better prepared. Later she wrote, “I saw a vision of a hand gently placed upon my head, white, luminous, perfect, beautiful. … All the sadness left my heart. This was a sign to me that … although the whole world should contend against me, my beloved Lord will be there giving me comfort.” McKenna kept her promise to study “with full dedication” and rejoiced five years later when her mother was baptized.

When Nilda Pinto met the missionaries, she promised them that she would pray and ask God if what they were teaching was true. Late that night, she awoke with a deep sense of guilt: she had forgotten to pray. She immediately began praying. “If there is a God and he listens to prayers,” she prayed, “I need to know that Jesus is the Christ.” After her prayer was done, she remained on her knees for some time. Eventually, she was shown a vision of a block of wood on which the words “Jesus is the Christ” were engraved. But Nilda remained doubtful. “What an imagination I have!” she thought. Nilda continued to pray nightly and each time was shown the same vision. On the third night, Nilda accepted that she had received her answer. Weeping, she offered a prayer of gratitude and promised that she would never again waver.

Shortly after her baptism, Nilda was called to teach in the Primary and began attending young adult activities with young members from all the branches in the Santiago area. Nilda’s parents, Luis and Olga Pinto, had initially welcomed the missionaries, but Olga soon grew concerned that Nilda was spending too much time at Church activities and became increasingly opposed to the Church. Despite her mother’s objections, Nilda did not waver. At a Church activity, she met Lloyd Castleton, a young Church member serving in the Peace Corps. The two decided to marry in the temple after Lloyd finished his service and wrote letters to each other when Nilda moved away to go to college in Utah.

Shortly after she moved, Nilda received a phone call from Santiago. On the other end of the line was an excited Lloyd Castleton. “I have baptized your parents,” he announced. Within a few months, Nilda’s father, Luis Pinto, was called as president of their branch.