It was not long after Jose Mesa joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honduras, South America, that the government announced that they were making land available to the people. Jose was desirous to improve his situation, so he took the government’s offer and made the long trek to the foot of towering mountains. Then, he and his wife loaded their few material possessions and their children onto donkeys and began to climb. The steep path was not easy going, but — sure enough — after an arduous ascent they arrived near the top of the mountain and discovered a beautiful, fertile plateau. Their family and several others settled there and began to farm.
There was one drawback to the situation: Making their way down the mountain to attend LDS Church services each Sunday cost Brother Mesa one month’s salary. Imagine that your family income is $2,000 per month. What is the possibility that you could afford to spend $8,000 each month to attend church? It simply would not be possible. Imagine further: What are the odds that, under such circumstances, Brother Mesa, or more importantly, you or I, would remain faithful and devoted to the gospel?
So a good amount of time passed with the Mesas up on their mountain.
When the elders assigned to the town at the base of the hill began knocking on doors in the village they would begin by introducing themselves and asking the person who answered if he or she knew anything about the LDS Church. The answers varied, but one comment was fairly uniform. Each person mentioned, “There is a Mormon that lives at the top of the hill.”
The first few times they heard that response they were surprised. A few more times and they were intrigued. Soon, they realized they needed to climb the mountain to meet with these fellow members of the church. They understood before they left that they faced a daunting climb. Moreover, they knew they would climb for nearly the entire day to reach the small settlement and would have to spend the night before they returned.
After negotiating switchbacks, steep inclines and, at times, a narrow path that dangled on the edge of cliffs, they arrived at a lovely, lush, level highland. The houses were spread out and crops rose from the soil. They began knocking on doors. Each time they asked the residents if they were THE members of the church they sought. Each time they were pointed along the way until they arrived at Brother Mesa’s doorstep.
When Brother Mesa opened his door he welcomed the elders with open arms. He insisted they stay the night with his family. In the Mesa’s home what did the elders find?
• Fellow Saints who delighted to share their simple meal with the missionaries.
• Sister Mesa teaching the children to read from the Book of Mormon (which has actually been proven to be one of the best reading primers available for learning to read).
• They found a family that knelt with them in family prayer and that did so each night.
• They found a gracious husband and wife, grateful and devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• They found member missionaries who spoke and taught others about their faith.
This is, after all, the key — FAITH. Brother and Sister Mesa exhibited a living and abiding faith in Jesus Christ and in his gospel. Brother Mesa’s dedication, and that of so many Hondurans, is what led to the announcement that a temple would be built in this beautiful, humble country.
As the elders prepared to depart Brother Mesa brought out a bag of money — not large, but the tithing that he had saved over many days and months, the money that belonged to the Lord. The missionaries took that sacred offering and delivered it into the hands of church leaders to be used to continue to build the kingdom.
Certainly missionaries taught Brother Mesa and his wife the gospel of Jesus Christ. They baptized the Mesas members of the LDS Church. But they neither converted Brother Mesa nor provided him the fortitude and conviction to continue to live the principles of the gospel. That testimony came as the Mesas gained faith through the witness of the Holy Ghost. It was renewed over and over by personal dedication and by harkening to the Spirit. Growing faith led Brother Mesa to share his testimony with others, to spread the “good news” of the gospel. The faith displayed by the Mesas led others to recognize that they were, indeed, disciples of Christ.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company