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New Harmony: The 'light divine' of Sister Osuna

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The artist rendering of the Tijuana Mexico Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple is under construction. See mormontemples.org/eng/tijuana for information.

LDS Church

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I’m writing about Altamira Osuna today. I’m afraid if I don’t, no one ever will.

As we speak, she is lying serenely in the Pioneer Memorial Nursing Home in Brigham City, awaiting what comes next.

I saw her the other night.

Her eyes are dim, but deep with affection.

Sister Osuna has never sought the limelight. She has sought the inner light. And that, Robert Frost would say, has made all the difference.

President Ronald Reagan made Sister Osuna and her husband U.S. citizens. And they have made the most of it.

They were the first two members of the Spanish-speaking Sycamore Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brigham City. They’ve mourned with the bereft, celebrated the babies and the weddings.

They’ve been twin pillars.

Alfonso, her husband, is the “personality” of the pair. His sense of humor and talent for telling tales make him a must at social gatherings. To hear him tell it, the home run he hit off Dodger great Fernando Valenzuela is still rolling down the back streets of some northern Mexican town.

Sister Osuna has been the core — a word with the same root as “coronary.” She has been a constant source of caring. One translation of her name, “Altamira,” is “lifted gaze.”

She looks to heaven.

Whenever she returned to Mexico to visit her ailing mother — which was often — she always left freshly minted Mormon converts in her wake. I think they were converted by the light in her eyes.

I was there when the two of them, in their advancing years, were sealed in the temple. Sister Osuna looked like a bride of 21.

I was heartbroken, years later, when she contracted leukemia.

She has been doing a difficult dance with the illness for some time now.

A couple of years ago, the three of us planned a pilgrimage to the upcoming open house for the Tijuana Mexico Temple. I even outlined a book idea — one of those “a trip through the desert is a trip through life” kind of things. I called it “The Transcendental Tijuana Temple Trek.”

We planned to stay with their daughter in Mexico (now a Latter-day Saint, thanks to Sister Osuna’s guiding light). The family hoped to show me the “non-tawdry” side of Tijuana — a Tijuana that can lift the spirits.

But looking into Sister Osuna’s eyes the other night, I could see that trip was now on hold. She was busy preparing for another trek; a journey — I’m sure — that will prove more fulfilling than our drive through the desert.

As I left, I thought of the grace and goodness of her life.

I thought of that light in her eyes.

And I paused a moment to celebrate her, and to lock her quiet dignity and charity securely in my memory — along with Brother Osuna’s earth-shattering homer off the great Valenzuela.

Email: jerjohn@deseretnews.com

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