“How Could I Get to Church?” Liahona, Jan. 2008, 45
In 1997 I found myself on what was supposed to be a 10-day working assignment in La Victoria, Venezuela. When I realized that I wouldn’t be returning home to Italy as soon as I expected, I began looking for a Latter-day Saint chapel so I could go to church on Sunday.
One day at lunchtime I made friends with a young Italian engineer who knew where to find a chapel in Maracay. He made a map for me. I had a car at my disposal, but unfortunately I hadn’t yet taken the medical examination required to obtain temporary permission to drive.
I was new to the area, I had only a sparse knowledge of Spanish, and several people had advised me against taking public transportation alone. I faced a dilemma. As Easter Sunday approached, I really wanted to renew my covenants by partaking of the sacrament. If I didn’t drive, how could I attend church in Maracay? If I did drive, I risked being stopped for driving without a permit.
As I considered my options, the 12th article of faith came to mind: “We believe in … obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Rather than drive, I knew that I must obey the law of the land (see D&C 58:21), even if doing so meant missing church.
A few days later I transferred to a hotel where several of my co-workers were staying. On Saturday morning, after a walk I returned to the hotel, still trying to figure out how to attend church the next day. As I passed the reception desk, to my surprise, I saw a copy of the Liahona in Spanish.
“Who is a member of the Church here?” I asked. Someone responded that the magazine belonged to one of the hotel workers. The receptionist went to his office and invited him to meet me. As we chatted about the Church, this good brother told me that there was a ward right there in La Victoria and that the chapel was located just a short walk from the hotel. He told me he would be happy to meet me the following morning and accompany me to church. What joy!
I ended up being in La Victoria for two more months. During that time I built many friendships as I happily participated in meetings and activities. Shortly after Easter, I obtained legal permission to drive, which enabled me to attend stake conference in Maracay.
While I was in Venezuela, my testimony of the importance of obeying the law of the land—even when inconvenient—was strengthened. I also obtained a testimony that Church publications are an effective way to share the blessings of the Lord.