Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Elisa and Anastacio Castillo perform on the outside patio at the Blue Iguana restaurant in Salt Lake City. The couple also serves two days a week in the Salt Lake Temple.

Anastacio Castillo goes from cowboy performer to temple worker in a matter of days.

"Tomorrow I'm clean-shaven 'cause I gotta go back to the temple," says Anastacio, referring to the silvery bristles on his cheeks and chin. "We dress up as cowboys, solo que why I have this scruff. Asi de cowboys."

A couple of weekends ago, he performed cowboy music with his wife, Elisa, at an event in Wyoming. Castillo slides in and out of Spanish and English, weaving the two together with perfect accents. The self-proclaimed "three generation Texican" has lived with Elisa in Utah for 20 years, where they spend most of their time performing both music and temple work.

Elisa Castillo has her brother to thank for helping her discover her two great passions: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and music. Erasmo Flores had Elisa practice singing when she was very young. He and his wife, Blanca, also introduced Elisa and Anastacio to the church while the Castillos lived in Texas.

The gospel was music to their ears.

"(The missionaries) knocked on the door and we had this great feeling that they had something wonderful to offer us," Elisa said.

"We just knew that they had the message," Anastacio said. "We just went along with the lessons. As they would ask us to do something, we would do it."

Anastacio was baptized as soon as the elders finished teaching the discussions. Elisa waited to have her second child and was baptized one month after her husband. Three years after his baptism, Anastacio found himself presiding over a branch in Lubbock, Texas. He and Elisa were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple, the closest one to them at that time.

They moved to Utah in 1979, and Anastacio stopped going to church. Pretty soon he was avoiding the home teachers, vanishing upstairs when he saw them approach his door.

"It was just complacency," Anastacio said regarding his inactivity.

"If you don't go one Sunday and then two and then three, you get relaxed," said Elisa, who continued to attend Sunday services during Anastacio's 13 years of inactivity.

Hiding upstairs from the home teachers was not far enough to avoid them completely. They started asking him to come down "just to say 'hi' and 'bye.'" After doing this a few times, they informed Anastacio that the bishop would like to meet with him.

"Before I knew it I was in the bishop's office," Anastacio said, recalling how the bishop of the ward asked him to make some ham for the Christmas party. "I felt pretty good about the hams. Everybody liked them. I felt pretty good about that so I went to church the next day."

He has remained active ever since.

After fulfilling various callings, Anastacio and Elisa were called in 2000 to serve as temple workers in the Salt Lake Temple, where they continue to serve each Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We help people all the time in Spanish," Elisa said about the English-only live endowment sessions at the Salt Lake Temple. "We can explain certain things they have questions about after the session."

When not serving in the church, they cook and cater Mexican food for parties and events and perform their traditional, folkloric Mexican music as the Rio Bravo Duet. They play on the weekends at the Blue Iguana, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. Anastacio plays the guitar while Elisa shakes the cabasa. They've been performing there for 11 years.

"It's relaxing to sing there," Elisa said. "The people that come there are great, the people that work there are great, our bosses are great."

While they sometimes perform in an alcoholic ambience at parties or restaurants, they stay firm in their convictions.

"Like they say, 'you're in the world but not of the world,"' Anastacio said. "We've been mostly sought by family-type environments."

Elisa remembers a time when one of their bosses (they've worked as performers in eight restaurants since arriving in Utah) told her she thought she was Mormon because she'd never seen her with a drink in her hand.

"I said, 'You thought right,"' Elisa said with a laugh. "She couldn't believe that. She said, 'But you look like you're feeling good and you're so alive."'

"We get a natural high," Anastacio said. "We get a high from the music itself. They say, 'Just a water?' and we say, 'Sure, water would be wonderful, with maybe a little lemon in it.'"


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