Saturday, May 30, 2009

Amazing Story: 43 Years Later

I (Scott) made this entry in my missionary journal, dated January 13, 1966, while my companion and I (from the mission office) were visiting the missionaries in the newly opened city of Ayacucho:

"Something exciting happened today, ... [W]e gave the fourth discussion (about the Savior) to two families whose wives speak very little Spanish. So as we gave the lesson in Spanish, the husbands translated into Quechua. What a joy! The brother who did most of the translating is a member but his wife and the other couple are not. They had an interesting discussion … in Quechua, very little of which we (Elder David Putnum and I) could understand.”

Here’s the follow-up to that story. The missionaries in Ayacucho, Elders David Putnam, Jr., and Steven Lawrence, continued to teach these two families. The three nonmembers were baptized. An article about these new members appeared in the July 1966 issue of the Liahona, explaining that the two women were the first members of the church who spoke only Quechua, the language of the Incas.

Here's the follow-up to the followup. Elder Douglas Earl, currently a Perpetual Education Fund missionary in Lima, wrote this blog post, dated April 19, 2009:

“In Nov. 1967 David LeFevre and I were sent to Ayacucho in the high Andes to help a little branch of members. There were 5 families in the city that were members. Two of the families, Espinoza and Ataurima were the first members of the church that spoke Quechua. [See above article.] ... We were in Ayacucho 70 days then we left and it was closed down to missionaries from 1968 to 1978. It was really sad to leave this town without missionaries and we "knew" [quotation marks added] that the members would be lost.

“FAST FORWARD 20 years [1987] when we were getting to know our missionaries in Lima [Elder Douglas Earl was then President Earl, the first mission president of the Peru Lima East Mission]. Three of the 5 Ayacucho families had boys of mission age. ... The third was Josue Espinoza, the son of one of the two families that were the first Quecha-speaking families to join, and a cousin to Roberto Ataurima. ALL THREE OF THESE BOYS from these 5 families, THAT DID NOT HAVE MISSIONARIES [in their city] FOR 10 YEARS, sent missionaries to the mission field AND ALL 3 MISSIONARIES WERE SENT TO MY MISSION.

“FAST FORWARD April 2009: After 41 years, I have returned to see my families and my city [Ayacucho]. ... Four of the 5 early families ARE STILL ACTIVE with ALL OF THEIR CHILDREN and grandchildren. The fifth family ANGEL HINOJOSA (who we baptized) was active when he died. The city is 20-30 times bigger, has 4 chapels and l stake. ... This could only happen in the true church of God. I went from being sad about our failure in Ayacucho to knowing that God knows us and has extended another tender mercy in our direction.”

Elder Earl and I have since communicated with Dave Putnam, who was happy to hear about the follow-up.

I was thrilled to have a tiny part in this amazing story.

[Thanks to my daughter Melissa for digging up my missionary journal entry from 1966, and thanks to Doug Earl for giving me permission to quote his blog and use his picture.]


Anonymous said...

What a neat story! What a blessing it must be for you to be back in the area you served in so many years ago and to have the opportunity to see some of the fruits of your labors from so long ago.

Sharon said...

I'm sitting here sobbing as I read this remarkable story! What an inspiring account of how the Lord works through us - His weak things of the kingdom - to bring about His great work. What a thrill for you, my dear brother!

Love, Your Sis