Saturday, December 28, 2013


So let me tell you about Mario.  He serves in the temple and isn't hard to miss because he stands at the front desk to scan recommends as people enter but also because the right sleeve to his jacket is tucked neatly into the side pocket.  He doesn't have a right arm—from the shoulder.  We haven’t really had occasion to interact with Mario much in the temple.  One day while visiting with Elder Day in English, he asked if we had heard Mario’s story.  Apparently Mario was once married and used to work for the railroad.  He didn't have a happy marriage and his wife left him.  So he began to drink and one night while rather drunk, he decided to cross the train tracks.  He didn't make it across before the train came and it not only took off his arm but his right leg from the knee down as well.  He was wishing for death but because he was so thoroughly drunk and relaxed, he didn't die but was taken to the hospital and cared for there.  That’s where the missionaries found Mario and began to teach him the gospel.  Learning about the gospel and the plan of salvation gave Mario a reason to live.  So he recovered and is living his new life now.  Brother Day added that Mario doesn't seem to like North Americans and can come across a little bit gruff.  He is actually fascinating to watch in action and we see what he can do with one hand that usually takes the rest of us two.  Paul said that he was in the dressing room with Mario.  To put on his socks and shoes, Mario takes off his prosthetic foot and uses his one hand.  To tie the shoe laces, he also uses his teeth and then puts his leg back into place.  Paul also found him rather non-responsive to a chat.

So why would we mention people like Mario and Sister Salazar in a letter to family and friends?  Because they are the success stories about how knowing and living the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring meaning into peoples’ lives.  They are probably poor and Mario is severely handicapped but they are serving and have a purpose for living.  We don’t know the living conditions of the people here other than what we see as we walk around each day.  We can give people a peso here and there but we can’t change their reality.  However, knowing and living the gospel can change their reality in that it gives them hope and purpose.  They can pray to God and receive personalized direction.  Obedience to gospel principles brings blessings from God and those blessings will sustain them from day to day—long after we have come and gone.

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