Mark Albright is the president of the Washington DC South mission and shares these missionary stories with Meridian Magazine. This letter comes from Ryan D. Whitaker.
If you want to share a missionary story, send it to email@example.com. Please note the names of new converts and investigators may be changed to maintain privacy.
Dear President Albright,
Ricardo Gonzalez and his wife, lived in Barcelona, Spain. They had decided that the prominent Christian faith they had been raised in did not contain religious truth. Believing it was representative of all of Christendom, they also concluded that Christianity must not be the correct path to God. They studied and compared other world religions, and chose to immerse themselves in Hinduism. As part of their quest for the religious truth, they moved to India where they could be closer to the purest source of their chosen studies in the Hindu faith.
After two years of living in India, they became disenchanted with Hinduism. They moved back to their home in Barcelona, Spain, to pick up their lives where they had been left off. While unpacking their belonging, Sister Gonzalez ran into a book that caught her attention. It was titled, “The Book of Mormon.” A friend had received it from some American missionaries years before. Not having any interest in it, her friend gave it to her. She thought it had something to do with the American Indians of the “Wild West”, and knowing Brother Gonzalez was interested in those things, her friend thought he might be interested in it. Sister Gonzalez put the book away and forgot all about it years earlier. When she held the book in her hands this time, however, she was curious about it. She thumbed through its pages and thought it was odd and confusing; but she decided to pass it on to her husband anyway, thinking he might be interested in it.
When Brother Gonzalez started reading the Book of Mormon, he recognized right away that it was a religious book, not a book about the Cowboys and Indians of the Wild West! The more he read the more he realized it contained religious truth that he could believe in. He convinced his wife to read it with him. They quickly read the entire Book of Mormon together. During the course of their reading, each received a powerful spiritual testimony that this book was true. They strongly felt that it represented not only true religion, but true Christianity. They were very excited and wondered where it had come from. There was nothing in the book directing them where they might gain more information about the book or the church that produced it. They asked their friends if they knew anything about the source of the book. All they could tell them was that it came from those young, clean-cut American missionaries people occasionally saw around the city. No one knew the name of the church they represented or how to contact them.
Brother Gonzalez was determined to find these American missionaries. He had earned two weeks’ vacation at his work. He decided to spend every day of his vacation walking up and down the streets of Barcelona, hoping by chance to cross paths with one of them. Day after day he wandered aimlessly throughout the streets, anxiously looking for the American missionaries. Near the end of his two week vacation, exhausted and discouraged, he was walking down a narrow side street when suddenly two American missionaries came out of a restaurant. Brother Gonzalez ran up to them, holding his Book of Mormon in his hand, and excitedly asked them, “Do you know anything about this book? How do I join your church!?” The missionaries were shocked at first, and then thought someone was playing a practical joke on them! However, they quickly realized that Brother Gonzalez was very earnest about his quest for truth!
Brother and Sister Gonzalez accepted the missionary lessons and joyfully entered the waters of baptism in the mid-1970s. They gladly and freely shared their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and their conversion story with the missionaries and members in the area. They have been solid pillars of faith in developing the church in Barcelona, Spain.
Ryan D. Whitaker, esq.
Barcelona Spain Mission, 1975-1977