PIURA, PERU — A 20-year-old LDS missionary from Peru who contracted a fatal illness and died in July had been excited to serve in the city in which he was born while he awaited a travel visa.
Elder Juan Junior Litano Montero was originally called to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said his older sister, Cecilia Litano. He had been serving in the Peru Piura Mission since late February while he waited for his application for a visa to be approved.
"My brother was so happy to go to Piura, because that is where he was born," Cecilia Litano said. "Everyone in my family was happy that one of us could go to this place and represent our family, Jesus Christ and his church."
Elder Litano died in July of tuberculous meningoencephalitis.
Two weeks ago the LDS Church reported that 10 young Mormon missionaries have died this year and expressed profound sorrow at their deaths. LDS Church officials confirmed that Elder Litano is one of those 10, but his death had not been reported previously in the media.
Cecilia Litano called the Deseret News to share her brother's story after seeing media reports about other missionaries. She said Elder Litano “never had a serious illness before his mission,” and he became ill while serving in his second mission area, La Union. It is not known when or how the missionary contracted the disease.
Elder Litano is the son of Juan and Teresa Litano and one of six siblings. They are members of the Naranjal Ward, Lima Peru Los Olivos Stake. Two of his siblings, Cecilia and Roman, also served full-time LDS missions.
"We were all very happy when Juan started his paperwork to go on his mission because we knew that he was ready to be a missionary," Cecilia Litano said. "He was always willing to serve — that was one of his characteristics — no matter where or when or to whom. He was always willing to serve."
His sister also said that he loved sports — "especially futbol" — and was preparing for a career in hotel and restaurant administration. Following an internship, he was offered a full-time position in his field, which he turned down to accept his mission call.
“Though we feel sad at his departure, we know that he is still working with that power and authority that God gives men to preach his gospel,” Cecilia Litano said. She expressed her belief that “this generation is not only accelerating the work here on Earth, but also in the world of spirits.”