Juan Manuel Conversion Story:
Elder Bennett: As the sister missionaries explained, I´ll be asking you some simple questions. To help me get to know you better, and resolve any questions about baptism. I pulled my planner out of my pocket and turned to the page entitled, ´baptismal interview.´ Me being new at these interviews, was a bit nervous. I took a deep breath and locked my eyes onto the first question.
"Do you believe God is our Eternal Father?"
"Yeah, Mate.¨ Said Juan Manuel confidently, in his thick Australian accent.
Elder Bennett´Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer?´
without missing a beat he replied "yes.!!". "Of course he believes I thought to myself."
I set my planner down, and laid back into the comfortable sofa. I casually smiled and looked at Juan Manuel in the eye. "You´ve been coming to church for a long time now and nd you weren´t ever baptized?" He grinned truthfully and nodded his head in accordance. That made me chuckle. "What changed? Why now I asked?" His smile deepened and there was a gleam in his eye. I was in for a good story...
25-years ago, there was a pair of missionaries. They found a warm and receptive family. They taught the family everything, and the mother and son were baptized right away. But the father, Juan Manuel, didn´t want to listen so he wasn´t never baptized. Life went by, along with the years. Dozens of missionaries tried to teach him. Missionaries were always invited for dinners at his home, to play games or just to talk. He even welcomed and gave shelter to LDS families who travel far to pick up their missionaries. Baptism never caught his attention. He moved his family to Austraila, where he found work in construction. He helped building the Australia Temple. Many stake presidents, and priesthood leaders tried to convince this dry member to dip his feet in the water. He didn´t like the persuasion. Baptism never called his attention.
It was Sister Jones first month in a new area, Almería. And to make things harder, she was training a brand new companion. She had nothing to start with but a map, and a strong determination to suceed. One day, when she and her comp were praying, the name JUAN MANUEL popped into her hear. She never met him. She never even heard his name before. But, the Lord works in mysterious ways. It was his time to be baptized. After some detective work, the sisters were able to find him. They had their first lesson with him. They proposed that they teach him all the basic lessons.
You could only imagine that after 25 years, his church attendance was very sparce. He had other thoughts and ideas in head. He was a tough cookie to crack. There were these 2 young lady Missionaries from America, wanting to teach him. He was suprised by his own decision, but he agreed to let the sisters teach him. But, determined Sister jones remembered what her Missionary training Center president taught: (HOLA-
Hermanos, Orar, Leer, Asistir (la capilla)= (Brothers and sisters, pray, read, and attend the church). With these 3 simple steps, anybody could feel the spirit and come to a conclusion that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon was true, and know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was God´s true restored church.
The sister missionaries quickly found out that Juan had never read the Book of Mormon with sincere intention. Sister Jones believed that if he read the Book of Mormon, that the spirit would penetrate his heart. It took a little bit of love and encouragement, but he read it for the first time. And the results were nothing short of a miracle. He couldn´t put the book down. It was opened in new ways and dimensions. He discovered things on his own. He heard much about this book with his extended time in the church, but now its doctrine of salvation were personalized. He knew this book to be true. He knows that the Lord wanted him to be baptized. He was scheduled to be baptized the 24th of July.
Elder Bennett: Wow thats quite the story.´
Juan Manuel: What's strange is when I woke up this morning I had a strong feeling that I needed to be baptised tomorrow instead of July 24th. So I called sister Jones to see if that was possible.´Her answer was "Well it sure is!!´ I paused for a second. ´Would you share one of your favorite scriptures?´ He pulled his book out from the table, and opened to a well marked page. He pulled out Ether 12:27 - "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
Juan looked at me, fighting back tears. ´We all have weaknesses... But, the Lord makes strong what is weak.´ He stopped. The spirit was so strong. I knew that this tough old fighter had truly been converted.
The next day, I pulled him out of the water. he was smiling like a newborn angel. All of his family and friends all surrounded the baptismal fount. Supporting him lovingly. this was the answer to his wife´s prayer for 25 years. The hosts of heaven were cheering and applauding. Welcoming home Juan Manuel.
The Book of Mormon has God´s promise that anyone who reads it, will know with a surety that it is true. i have seen that miracle. I am lucky to work in the field with people as clever as Sister Jones who knew how to be in the right place at the right time, and say what the Lord wanted her to say.
Baptism of Juan Manuel