A few nights ago Sister S. and I attended an LDS institute class followed by an English class in a stake center in the northern part of Guatemala City. We met a man who is a stake president, presiding over a group of congregations roughly equivalent to a diocese. He was there with some of his children and two beautiful little granddaughters. They were a delightful family group.
They represented part of the harvest from seeds sown 50 years ago.
This man had not yet been born when his parents were baptized in 1963 by two missionaries I would come to know later. His parents’ baptism took place a year before I began my missionary service in Central America. In 1965 and 1966, I served in three different proselyting areas in the north part of the city. There were few Latter-day Saints in the area then—enough for one struggling congregation with 80-100 members attending regularly. My companions and I baptized a handful of people, but we had no way of knowing what eventually happened to them.
Now there are several stakes covering those areas where my companions and I proselyted so long ago, and each stake will have at least half a dozen robust congregations. The hand of the Lord has to be in this work; otherwise, this outcome simply could not have been possible.
I confess that I shed tears several months ago the first time I saw the stake center building where those classes were held last Thursday night. What was more impressive to me this time was the way the Latter-day Saints in attendance bore witness of the importance of their faith in Jesus Christ to their personal lives. There was joy in their faces, welling up from their hearts because they are trying to follow Him.
Such a congregation and such an expression of testimony about gospel truths would have simply been a dream for members and missionaries back when I was walking the streets of this area as a 21-year-old. But now the fourth generation of members is growing up in the Church here.
One day during a conversation about the growth of the Church in Central America, a local member said to me, “You did that—you and the others who came here to serve with you.” I denied it. I didn’t do anything outstanding, certainly not like the early missionaries of the Church who converted whole congregations at once. We all did what we were expected to do; we tried to bring people who were interested in truth to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. We hoped to help them accept His Atonement that saves us from our sins when we are willing to follow Him. We tried to do our best, even though it was hard some days, and we touched the lives of a few people before we moved on.
We all understood that we might never see the harvest.
Now I have seen a part of the harvest, and I thank God for the blessing.
May the harvest continue as these younger generations sow the seeds of their own faithfulness. May the joy that swells up from their hearts continue to be planted in the hearts of others.