From David L. Mower: In August, 1966 I arrived in Lima, Peru, the headquarters of the Andes Mission, to which I had been called by President David O. McKay. The mission included Bolivia, the northern tip of Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The mission president was J. Arvil Jesperson. The first missionaries had arrived in Bolivia in about 1965. [In 1966, the mission was split. The Andes South Mission had its headquarters in La Paz, Bolivia.]
In August of 1967 I was transferred from Cuzco, Peru to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I traveled from Cuzco to Puno, Peru on the train. I crossed Lake Titicaca in a boat, and from there on the train to LaPaz. This was my first visit to the headquarters of the mission. I traveled from LaPaz to Santa Cruz on an airplane.
There was a single branch in Santa Cruz. I was the Zone Leader over the missionaries. Another Elder was the Branch President. The Church had rented a large home for meetings. The home had a guest house in the rear where brother Hugo Penarietta lived with his family. They were faithful Church members and very friendly towards the missionaries.
The mission zone included two cities - Santa Cruz and Vallegrande. It was a long bus ride to Vallegrande. We visited there about once a month. On my first visit I remember an older gentleman who had just been baptized. He was excited about the Gospel, but he was poor and shy. His clothes were shabby and he wasn't very clean.
As the months passed I watched the light of the Gospel take effect in his life. His appearance changed and his spirit changed. He wore better clothes and was clean. His face shone with new confidence. He took part in Church meetings and activities.
The Gospel is the power to change one's life. It gives to each of us the opportunity to build upon the innate Spirit of Christ and to become leaders in our families, our communities and our world as we follow the teachings of the Savior and magnify the Priesthood. I am thankful to this good brother and to many others whose lives were changed and who set an example for me.