Carlos A. Cifuentes, a heavy-machinery mechanic, was more concerned with his work than with religion. When his wife, Haydee, accepted a Book of Mormon from two missionaries, she initially hid it from Carlos because she was concerned about how he might respond. When he found it, however, he began reading it, and the family started studying with the elders. As they attended church, Cifuentes was struck by “the strong feeling of brotherhood and friendliness toward those who were investigating.” Through the Church, he was surprised to learn that he, “a mechanic, more in contact with grease and gasoline and iron than with God,” could actually be a child of God.
Almost immediately after his baptism in November 1958, Cifuentes was put to work. “You can imagine how surprised I was to find myself teaching a priesthood class,” he said. “I had never imagined that I would have an opportunity like this—not in my entire life!” Teaching was only the beginning. In less than two years, he was called as the first Chilean branch president and then, in succession, the first Chilean to be a district president, counselor to a mission president, stake president, regional representative, patriarch, and counselor in a temple presidency.
In earlier years, Cifuentes worked late Saturday nights and could not completely clean his hands before Sunday meetings. One convert related how Cifuentes “came up to the pulpit and the only thing I saw was his dirty, black fingernails. I thought, ‘How can this man be conducting a meeting alongside the mission president if he has dirty hands?’ That was until he began to speak and I forgot everything else when I felt his spirit.”