“Will I Be Able to Talk Again?” Liahona, July 2007, 45
I had been on my mission in my home country of Peru for several months when I met Santiago. He attended a Sunday School class for new members, but he had not been baptized. Nor had he taken the missionary discussions. I learned that he had a speech impediment that made him feel insecure because he had difficulty communicating.
For most of his life, Santiago had been able to speak clearly and had been blessed with a beautiful singing voice. But then he suffered a stroke. After a long time in a rehabilitation center, he had learned to walk again, but he still had trouble speaking.
We were thrilled when Santiago decided to meet with us. During our first visit, he tried to talk, and we tried to understand. He especially enjoyed reading aloud from the Book of Mormon. We loved and admired him.
One day while we were discussing gospel ordinances, Santiago said he was ready for baptism and confirmation. After we had finished the discussion, he stood up, eyes shining, and with great difficulty asked, “Elders, after I’m baptized, will I be able to talk normally again?”
I was taken aback for a moment and at first didn’t know how to answer. But responding to the influence of the Spirit, I said confidently, “Yes, if you have enough faith, the Lord will grant your desire.”
On the day of his baptism, I remembered Santiago’s question when he was asked to bear his testimony. Realizing that some of the Lord’s promises aren’t fulfilled immediately, I wondered if Santiago would feel disappointed if his ability to speak didn’t immediately improve. In the days that followed, he still struggled to talk, but he didn’t seem to be concerned.
I was soon transferred and didn’t see Santiago again until the end of my mission, when I went to say good-bye before returning home. My companion and I didn’t find him home and started to leave, when suddenly we heard a strong voice calling to us. It was Santiago!
We entered his house, and he talked about how happy he had been as a member of the Church. After a few minutes I realized that he was speaking almost perfectly. Surprised, I said, “Santiago, you talk fine now!”
He said he knew the Lord would grant his desire. So he showed faith and did his part, reading aloud from the Book of Mormon and doing exercises his doctor had recommended. “The Lord has seen my efforts and has given my voice back to me,” he said. “And it won’t be long before He blesses me with the ability to sing again.”
I could not hold back my tears. That day Santiago taught me a great lesson. The promises of the Lord aren’t always fulfilled quickly, but they are fulfilled nonetheless.