provided by museum of Church History and art
Lincoln Peters was baptized at 18 — one of the first Mormon converts in Chile — in 1956.

BLUFFDALE, Utah – A rude awakening turned out to be a spiritual awakening for one of Chile's modern day pioneers.

Having stayed out late with friends the previous night, then 18-year-old Lincoln Peters wanted to sleep in.

His normally gentle Mormon grandmother had other plans. She ripped off his blanket and demanded he get up.

"She said, 'Today you are going to church with your Grandma.' That was funny because she was a sweet, nice lady. I thought it was maybe a joke," said Peters, who grew up in Santiago. "I decided to follow that joke and go to church."

But the joke was on Peters. During the meeting a new, powerful feeling touched his heart and changed his life.

"I didn't know what it was, but it was something I could almost touch," he said. "It was a long week waiting to go back because I wanted to feel it again."

Until that weekend in 1956, Peters had avoided the missionaries from the "strange new church." He took the discussions and a short time later he became one of the church's first converts in Chile.

Peters is one of several Latin American Latter-day Saints who are sharing their conversion stories in an exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art titled "Mi Vida, Mi Historia."

During a time of political and economical turmoil in the 1970s, Peters obtained a residential visa and moved to Utah with family members. Before he retired a few years ago, the Chilean pioneer worked in the church's translation department for more than two decades.

As part of his personal history, Peter speaks about overcoming a bad smoking habit and returning to the church after a 4-year stint of inactivity.

"One night by myself, I acknowledged that I had a serious problem and needed help from God. The next morning I automatically lit up a cigarette but it tasted very bad, so I opened another pack and lit up another, but the flavor was as bad as the first one," said the 71-year-old. "Then I remembered my prayer to the Lord and realized that this was the answer. I didn't even have a headache. I have not smoked since then."

Before moving to Utah, Peters served in several church leadership positions, including sports director, branch president and bishop. As sports director, he organized a popular program that started with five kids and eventually attracted more than 70 youths and adults each week. The program proved to be a good method for bringing investigators to church.

"That was my first calling and I loved it," Peters said.

When Peters considers his membership in the church and how the gospel has blessed his life, he is overwhelmed with a feeling of happiness.

"I am rich. I feel protected. I have a lot of things that other people don't see as real blessings. Life is so beautiful if you see if from the gospel perspective," he said. "I will never be perfect, but if I am trying … the gospel is a way of life that makes us happy."

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