From Merrill L. Moon While serving a mission in the Mexico Torreon Mission in 1977, I had the opportunity to travel to a small village called San Jose del Sitio, deep in the mountain country of Chihuahua. In this village, there lived a member, Brother Torres, who traveled by bus frequently on Sundays to attend church in Chihuahua City, at a great personal sacrifice both in time and money. He and his family were the only members of the church in this small village. Frequently, this member would ask our mission president when missionaries would be sent to San Jose del Sitio, to "teach my village." Since it was such an isolated location, the mission president was hesitant to commit. But he finally agreed to send some missionaries teach the people who had been prepared by Brother Torres and his family.
Two sets of Elders and one set of Sister missionaries took off into the mountains, crammed into a Volkswagon beetle. We left Chihuahua City at 8:30 a.m., and sang hymns for much of the morning as we drove to San Jose del Sitio. The way was slow and rough on dirt roads. We had to get out and push the car through several rough spots. After ten hours of rough travel, we finally arrived at the small pueblo (village). We were all tired and beat, and I assumed that we would rest up for the next day of teaching. However, my idea to rest soon left, as people started gathering at a place outside of the Brother Torres' home. Initially, about fifteen people arrived to hear us teach. Evidently, the people were more prepared to hear our message than we knew.
As the people gathered around, we opened our outdoor meeting with a prayer. Without even being prompted, the people bowed their heads. I was amazed at the feeling of reverence, humility, and dignity. By the time the prayer was completed, the attendance had approximately doubled. My companion and I were seated on wooden log stumps, and the people were sitting and standing in a semi-circle around us.
Being led by the Spirit, we began teaching a special discussion intended for those who had been prepared well to receive the gospel. As we taught them, the Spirit was felt strongly. It became my turn to teach of repentance and issue the baptismal challenge. I have never felt the power of the Spirit so strong, as I invited this group to follow Christ that same evening by entering into the sacred waters of baptism. I could hardly believe the words which flowed out of my mouth, and I felt like Peter in the New Testament, when he challenged hundreds of people at a time to follow Christ to be baptized. After I issued the invitation, I was humbled to see many hands raised, belonging to those wanting to accept baptism that very evening. I was surprised by the enormous response, and went to make arrangements with the zone leaders for the baptisms. A pool of water was found a few hundred feet from where we were teaching, that was fed from a spring in a rock wall.
The zone leaders interviewed each person who had requested baptism. Then, we took the people into the waters, and baptized them one by one. After they were baptized, we asked them to kneel on the grass by the water, to receive their confirmation and the bestowal of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. As one person knelt, the rest of them also reverently knelt. I honestly felt that I experienced the gift of tongues as I gave blessings to these people as they were confirmed members of the church. Words flowed out of my mouth that I know were inspired of the Spirit.
While we baptized this first group of people, the sister missionaries taught another group. When we had finished our baptisms, the sisters brought more to be baptized. A total of twenty-one people were baptized on that first night.
As we finished up with the night's ordinances and went to our lodging at the Torres home, several people who had not been able to attend the teaching sessions of that evening came and asked when they could be baptized the next day. Many of them were family members of those who had been baptized earlier that evening.
That night, I marveled at the wonderfulness of the Lord as I lay on my blanket on the cement floor, listening to the sounds of the animals in this small village in the middle of Mexico, without telephones or electricity.
Over the course of the next couple of days, several more people were taught the gospel and baptized into the church, including a family of Tarahumara Indians. During the weekend, I saw love, more pure and simple than I had ever seen before, or have ever seen since. The love that Brother Torres showed to the people of his village, and the love that the people of the village had for the Savior, with their desire to follow Him into the waters of baptism, was an example to me.
On Sunday, we held the first sacrament meeting of this new little branch. The mission president had authorized Brother Torres to act as a branch president to conduct meetings after the missionaries left the village. We had about seventy-five people attend that first sacrament meeting.
It was hard to leave that small village, where I had seen the most impressive miracle of all -- when the Spirit changes the life of someone who accepts Christ as their Savior. By the end of my mission, I asked my mission president about the San Jose del Sitio branch of the church, and was told that they were still strong and faithful. They had the highest percentage of tithe payers out of all of the branches in the mission. This miracle took place because Brother Torres had loved his village members enough to prepare them to be receptive to the gospel.