From Rone Sasine: While serving in the coastal town of La Libertad (Ecuador Guayaquil Mission) in January 1987, my companion and I first met the Pilay family through a referral card filled out by Marcia, one of the younger sisters. I had only recently arrived in the town, and the previous missionaries had not left much of a teaching pool, so we were eager to talk to anyone. After our initial visit, Marcia began to read the Book of Mormon and then introduced us to the rest of her family. Over the coming months, we met brothers, sisters, parents, and in-laws, many of whom also showed interest in listening to the discussions.
Xavier Pilay was Marcia's older brother. In the beginning, he treated us kindly but kept his distance. For a while only Marcia and Miriam, Xavier's girlfriend, were interested in hearing our message, but over time, Xavier began to be more curious about what we had to say. Finally, he invited us to come to his place of business to give him the first discussion.
Xavier ran a small soft drink warehouse, so he had long periods of time at work between deliveries and pick ups when he could read and study. We met frequently, and each time we saw him he had more questions about what he had been reading. When he finished the Book of Mormon, he moved on to Talmage's Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ, racing through both books as fast as we could keep up with him. His testimony grew strong and sure, and within a short time, he felt a desire to be baptized.
At the same time, we had begun teaching other members of his family, and had continued teaching his girlfriend. The situation was unique, with us teaching each of the family members individually because of their different work schedules, then meeting together occasionally with all of them to make sure they were all progressing together.
Marcia was the first to be baptized. Then, after they were married in a lovely wedding that I will never forget, Xavier and Miriam were baptized. At their baptism, Xavier pulled me aside and asked if we could pray together, just he and I, before the meeting began. I told him that there would be no problem, so we excused ourselves to the dressing room, where he offered one of the most humble and committed prayers I have ever had the blessing to hear. At the baptism of their sister Fidelina later that spring, Xavier, Miriam, and Marcia all took part in the service while their mother looked on. A short time later, after I was transferred to another area, the mother and several other family members were also baptized.
In his commitment to live the gospel, Xavier closed his soft drink warehouse and gave up playing soccer on Sundays so that he could keep the Sabbath Day holy. In time, the branch in which they lived was divided, and the new branch began to hold its meetings in the living room of their home. Eventually, Xavier was called as Branch President and then as a member of the District Presidency.
I had the opportunity to return to Ecuador several years later on business. When I walked into sacrament meeting in the branch over which this faithful servant of the Lord presided, I was deeply moved by the progress that had taken place in the life of his family. When his mother stood to bear her testimony, I literally did not recognize her, how great had been the change brought by her conversion several years before. What had once been a downcast, tired woman had become a woman of faith and confidence in the Lord and in herself. At the time of my visit, she had recently completed an assignment as District Relief Society President. Xavier's wife, Miriam, had changed from a shy, quiet young woman into a strong companion for her husband and a leader of the Church in her own right.
I told Xavier at the time of my transfer from La Libertad that if he had been the only person that I baptized on my entire mission, it would have been well worth the two years. Being able to look back ten years later and see his progress in the gospel and the strength that he has been to others, that statement is equally true today.
Ron Sasine Campinas, SP, Brazil (Ecuador Guayaquil Mission 1985-1987)