Reflections of a sister missionary

Published: Thursday, Nov. 3 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"Josefina just cried for so long to think one of her countrymen would do that to a missionary," said Christensen, who visited with her old companion in person a few weeks ago. "She was a beautiful, soft-hearted, sweet, lovely person who worked so hard. She was ready to sacrifice anything for the gospel."

Joselene's mission lasted 22 months. A month before she went home, Joselene and Houston, her companion, found the Gonzalez family. She said Guillermo was a pleasant, peaceful and spiritual man. Gudelia was very friendly. "They were wonderful people," Joselene said.

The famous first discussion, which lasted all day long, started off like any other.

She said Guillermo asked several questions and wanted to see the answers in the scriptures.

"We explained the Restoration and he wanted to know more and more," she said. "It went on and on. I could see something special was happening."

After an hour, the sister missionaries tried to make another appointment to come back the following week, but Guillermo stood, locked the door and demanded to know everything about the church.

Joselene said she laughed.

"They were so friendly," said the petite missionary. "We sat back and relaxed. I knew we could reschedule our other appointments. We enjoyed it because we knew the Spirit was with us."

There were several more discussions with the Gonzalez family over a period of a few weeks. Less than seven days before the couple's baptism, Joselene learned her father was sick and about to die. Her mission president granted her an honorable release and she went home to sit by his bed one final time.

"She saw him and their relationship deepened before he passed away," Alfred said. "He forgave her for joining the church."

Joselene knew Guillermo and Gudelia would become stalwart members of the church. Gudelia and Joselene have kept in contact over the years.

"To see how they received the gospel, it doesn't surprise me," she said. "I always thought he would be one of the best converts of the church."

Following her mission, Joselene was married and the couple eventually moved to Hacienda Heights, Calif., and had five children. It's interesting to note that her brother-in-law was Eduardo Balderas, a leading Spanish translator of LDS scripture and other materials for almost 50 years.

Life has been difficult for Joselene in recent decades. She and her husband went through a divorce. Her youngest son, Art, has Down syndrome. She has taken care of him for all 42 years of his life.

When it was discovered that Joselene had eye cataracts, she went in for surgery but said the doctor made mistakes. Another doctor advised her to hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, she couldn't afford it. She has lived with pain in her eyes ever since.

The meek 83-year-old woman was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and travels from Southern California to the Huntsman Cancer Institute about every six months for treatments. She has lived longer than many doctors expected.

Despite her hardships, Joselene holds continually to the gospel of Jesus Christ and is quick to count her blessings.

"I live in a lot of pain, but the Lord has been with me and loves me," she said. "The church has been everything in my life."

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