Elder Liam Greene serves in the Washington Vancouver Spanish Speaking Mission. His dear grandmother, Paula Sorenson, recently passed away suddenly. She was a powerful influence in Elder Greene’s life. In his latest weekly email, he shared some of the Lord’s tender mercies that comforted him during such a difficult time away from home.
As part of those tender mercies, he shared Francisco’s miracle story. I read in awe at the sacrifices Francisco made because the Gospel is true. Am I that willing and quick to act?
This is a beautiful expression of love for God and His love for His children—individually and wherever they are.
From a portion of Elder Liam Greene’s weekly email.
At the exact same time as the funeral of my grandma, I was coordinating a baptism. That day was special to me. We prepared for Francisco’s baptism and got to the baptismal font 2 hours early. But apparently this font takes 4 hours to fill and we didn’t know that so it was only half filled by the time the baptism was supposed to start.
So when all the members came, we started filling huge game-day Gatorade jugs, pitchers, pots, and buckets with water and carried them from the kitchen across the chapel to the baptismal font. Our whole ward sprung into action. We were all filling pitchers and carrying it across the church and dumping it into the baptismal font. It was truly a sight to see. I loved how the ward just sprang into action with us.
It was a very amazing baptism. We had over 40 people show up in total. President Craft (the Stake President) and President Featherstone (our Mission President) was there. This was the biggest baptism I am ever going have had in the mission and it was my first. All because the of the miracle story of Francisco.
I love Francisco SO MUCH. He is an example to all of us. When he was going to be baptized and he got in the font, we were worried because the water was so only above his knees but my companion Elder Kooyman got him immersed under the water completely the first time. Francisco rose out of the water with the biggest smile on his face.
Elder Oldroyd and I gave the Restoration presentation in Spanish to everyone. And following that, Francisco came up and shared his story and bore a POWERFUL testimony.
Francisco’s Journey to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Francisco explained how he was raised in a Catholic monastery and did a year of silence and became a Catholic Priest in Italy. How he left the Catholic church and became an Apostolic Preacher. How his son was taken and killed by a gang in Guatemala. How he came to Washington state.
How he was an Apostolic Preacher but didn’t feel like everything he was doing was right. How he didn’t agree that those who are baptized go to heaven and those who are not are going to hell. How he asked Heavenly Father if what he was doing was the right thing for preaching for this church and the answer he got was no. So he quit his job as an Apostolic preacher.
Flash forward to how the missionaries found him. They were driving in the car and Elder Kooyman (my trainer in the mission who trained me how to be a missionary) was just thinking and the name Mario came to his head several times. Finally, he turned to his companion Elder Edgin and goes do we have any members named Mario? He said that they did and he was inactive.
They called Mario and set up lunch for the next day. And it just so happened that Francisco was there at that lunch and it all started. It wasn’t until baptisms for the dead was explained to him (where we do baptisms for our family in this life so all may have a chance to receive the gospel after they’ve passed on if they choose.) In addition to the doctrine found in the scriptures, he grasped how true it was.
Tears filled his eyes when this message was shared with him because he was worried about his son who had passed on. He started reading the things we gave him and sincerely starting the process of finding the truth for himself.
I love seeing this change in people. As missionaries, we are only guides. We don’t teach people. We just give those who are really ready the materials and they do it themselves. We are only guides.
We would show up to an appointment with Francisco and he would be like “I’ve been looking on my phone and I started following this thing called Come Follow Me.” And we’d just be like wow.
During his baptismal testimony, Francisco then explained how he gained his testimony. How he was facing all this opposition and adversity while he was learning and how we shared with him 2nd Nephi 2. He said he read the scripture and how there is opposition in all things and realized the magnitude of the baptism to him.
And he decided that all opposition that he would face would not stop him from being baptized. This includes his wife divorcing him for becoming a member, having to make sure she would sign his papers before he told her that he was getting baptized. He had to tell her he was getting baptized after she signed his work Visa papers so that she would sign the papers because otherwise if she knew he was getting baptized she wouldn’t sign his papers.
She is an Apostolic Preacher and when she found he was going to church after he returned one day, she threatened him and yelled at him and all this stuff and cut up two of his suits. He bought three new suits just to come to church. He would try to hide them and she would find them and put it in her closet and then when he’d go try to get them she would be like “Where are you going?” He then had to move his suits to work and change at work so he could wear them when he came to church.
Because He Knew It’s True
He shared all of this and then said he did it all because he knew it was true. And he bore a powerful testimony and said “I testify to you that I know Russell M. Nelson is a prophet today. That Joseph Smith was a prophet and saw God the Father and that the truth was restored. That the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.” And he continued to bear amazing testimony.
All of the members were blown away. So much in fact that after the day after the baptism and after he shared more of his testimony and story in fast and testimony meeting the next day at church, EVERY SINGLE other person spoke to how much his story and testimony touched their hearts. Just because a person isn’t in this church doesn’t mean they aren’t spiritually strong.
Francisco also told me one day in Sacrament Meeting that despite him being kicked out of his house and losing all of his stuff because everything is in his wife’s name and being divorced that he is the happiest he has ever been. The HAPPIEST he has ever been. The gospel brings so much joy in our lives as long as we are living it and finding truth and growing in our lives.
I love my friend Francisco. I have such great admiration for him and he is a great example to me.
He calls me Hermano Gringo. I love it. It’s our little joke.
We wanted to meet up at Five Guys when I left Gresham. He said, “I can’t go in because I don’t have money.” He sounded sad. And we told him we didn’t care and that we’d pay for him. He just lit up and he was like “REALLY!? YOU’D DO THAT!?” And we said, “Of course!”
We met up at Five Guys and had food and celebrated his baptism and I told him that I was leaving. He was sad and I was, too. He told me he bought me a cowboy hat because I’m from Texas and I didn’t have one so got me one as a present. It meant so much knowing how much he was going through. I can’t wait to see him again when I return to Gresham.
With Francisco Was Where I Was Supposed to Be
As I sat there in that baptism I knew that I was supposed to be nowhere else. That while my family was gathering in another church for the death of my grandma, I was there for the spiritual birth of my friend Francisco. The Spirit was strong at his baptism. I know grandma would be proud.
I know during that time I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere else and that the companion I had was a blessing and that the families that I was serving there needed me.
While Francisco would’ve been baptized either way, our friendship became very strong as well and it also did with the Pozos during this time as well. I’m so grateful to have been in Gresham at that time. The blessings were just pouring into my life and I was cherishing every second of it.
People Sent to Comfort When Grandma Passed
The Pozos family is a family very near and dear to my heart. They were the ones Elder Oldroyd and I helped to move in and paint their house and put in the flooring. Hermano Pozos had his heart surgery and had some complications but is home now and doing well. We were over at their house serving, giving blessings, and ministering to the members of our ward as well.
They were who I was with when Grandma passed. I could feel it. And they were a family that helped me to just be so grateful for all the blessings pouring into my life at that time where I wish I could’ve been with my family. I’m so grateful for that family.
Elder Oldroyd was an amazing companion during this last transfer. He taught me so much and we worked super hard and had a ton of fun. He was who I needed during that time of the passing of Grandma. I am so grateful for him and the friends we are.
I am doing well. I am so grateful for all the prayers. I have seen the blessings just pour out. I couldn’t have been with better people during the passing of my grandma. She sent her love my way and I felt it. I know that this Gospel is real and that spirits are a real thing as well.
I know that as we serve our Father in Heaven we find the love and peace of God as long as we do it with a heart of gratitude. I love my people of Gresham and I will see them again soon. You learn in the mission that you gain family and a home and then you have to leave it and gain a new family and home. And by the end of your mission, you’ll have several new families and homes. It’s so cool. I love you all.
P.S. my new companion’s name is Elder Day. Together we’re Greene Day. Needless to say, we’re gonna get T-shirts together so please send me your graphic designs now lol. Haha. Love you all.