“Cayo and Anthony: Paris, France,” Liahona, September 2017
Cayo Sopi and Anthony Linat have been friends since childhood. Cayo, a member of the Church, always hoped Anthony would join.
Leslie Nilsson, photographer
I met Anthony a long time ago. We had just moved into the area. I went to this new school and started to make friends. Anthony was one of them. We were maybe six or seven years old. It’s funny to think about that, now that I am 26.
We were playing a game called Pog. It’s a game we play in France—I don’t know if it’s played elsewhere. While we were playing, Anthony tried to swipe one or two of my game pieces. Suddenly, we started to fight. Our teacher had to pull us apart. After that, I think we appreciated each other more. We started doing things together—playing video games, skateboarding, and cycling. Little by little, we began to spend more and more time together.
My mother always wanted our family to pray. It was part of our practice at home. Same thing with reading scriptures too. These things were ingrained in us. One night I slept over at Anthony’s place. As I prayed before bed, Anthony saw me and asked what I was doing. I don’t remember what I said exactly; I just remember we were in his room and we talked about prayer.
Anthony came a few times to my house, and he saw us read the scriptures, ask a blessing before eating, and pray as a family. He saw us sing hymns together too. I asked him once or twice to come to church. I must have seen from his reaction that he wasn’t too excited about the idea of coming to church. I told myself, “Well that’s it, I guess, and it’s too bad, but we’ll just continue to be buddies.”
At first I was a little distant about the Church. I didn’t understand much, and I was a bit afraid to speak with Cayo about how his family gathered together for prayer. So in the beginning I didn’t respond to invitations. But little by little, I felt good. I felt in my heart that Cayo’s family was different from other families.
Eventually we both moved on to other things. We lost track of each other several times over the years, but we would always bump into each other again. When we were teenagers, we became close friends again.
I could see that Cayo was different from my other friends. We all do dumb things as we’re growing up, but Cayo helped me choose a good path.
Anthony started to come to church with my family. Then things evolved naturally, the missionaries spent a lot of time with us, and Anthony became quite familiar with the Church. He knew what prayer was, he knew the hymns, he knew all that—he was just not a member.
From age 8 to age 18, I reflected a lot about getting baptized. But it took me a long time because I had a lot of things I needed to change in my life, even though I tried to live good principles.
At the age of 18, I met the missionaries in Cayo’s home. The missionaries taught me the lessons to prepare me for baptism. They helped me, and their message touched my heart. During this time, my mother and my little sister were introduced to the missionaries. They were baptized a few months before I was. I was baptized on March 10, 2007.
It took the time that it took, more than 10 years, but finally he was baptized.
It’s interesting to see how the Lord does things. After that, I went on a mission in France and we wrote to each other. Now we’re going to be separated because Anthony just became a gendarme [policeman], and he will leave to work for two to five years in Guyana, but I’m sure we’re going to stay in touch.
Since I joined the Church, I do what is required to stay on the strait path and to share the gospel with those around me. It’s something that’s very simple, but the gospel can be difficult for others to accept and to live. As members of the Church, we are truly different from others.
Other members of my family had trouble seeing why my mother, my sister, and I get ready for church every Sunday. I get dressed in my suit and leave at 8:30 to be to church by 9:00, and I often stay until 3:00 in the afternoon because of my calling. I enjoy visiting with other members and finding out what’s going on in their lives. I like being able to participate with the members; it’s exceptional. It’s important to have people around us who are members, to have unity, and to feel like we’re strengthening each other.
I believe the Lord does everything He can so we can truly, honestly, and deeply change. Becoming a Latter-day Saint and a disciple of Christ is not just a question of deciding to adopt certain attitudes; it is to witness a profound change in ourselves. I saw that change in Anthony.
Knowing I have a Heavenly Father comforts me. It also comforts me to know that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us—for me.
But, in any case, I know it’s true. I also know the scriptures are true. The Book of Mormon is true. I’m convinced of it. The Church is true. We have a true prophet, Thomas S. Monson. The Twelve Apostles are truly called of God.
That’s something I didn’t understand before, and I think that, even today, I don’t understand it completely. It’s very powerful and it’s unique as an emotion.