Words can't describe the joy I felt today as Beverly and I visited Blas Alvarez, a man I baptized 43 years ago. We took a taxi to San Martín de Porras (a suburb of Lima). I was one of the first missionaries in that area. This picture taken in 1965, shows me with Blas (on the left) and his family.
Through miracles that I won't describe here, this family accepted the gospel, and I had the great blessing of baptizing them. Sister Felícita Alvarez (in the middle of the picture), was one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the church (I do not exaggerate; please read Alma 26:1, 4, 11-12, 22). She was instrumental in directly bringing more than 1,000 people into the Church and indirectly in bringing in untold others.
Sister Alvarez died of cancer in 1981, but Blas, age 82, still lives in the very house where my companion and I taught him the gospel, and he is still active in the church today. Amazingly he remembered my name and that of my companion (Elder Vance Dunn). Here's how he and I look today, January 2, 2008.
To my astonishment, when Brother Alvarez showed us his photo album, we found this page---containing a picture of Beverly and me (ages 24) and our year-old son Stephen, and a picture of me when I was 8 years old that I had sent to Brother and Sister Alvarez! Also in the album there was a picture of me as a missionary, along with dozens of other missionaries with whom Brother and Sister Alvarez worked between 1965 and 1981.
After a long and wonderful afternoon of conversation, Brother Alvarez bid us farewell. We are going back on Sunday to meet his son Blas, Jr.