Praying for Recovery and Guidance
It is a miracle in itself that Eleazar is still alive. He and his sister were abandoned as children and put into an orphanage where they were maltreated and abused. Because he became addicted to alcohol and drugs, Eleazar ended up begging on the streets of Mexico City. Doctors told him that if he didn’t give up putting toxins into his body, his organs would soon fail and result in his death. He lost all sense of purpose in his life and decided that he didn’t have a reason to live any more.
Around this time he was awakened to his need to turn his life around. He got onto his knees and begged God to help him out of the deep hole he was in.
He found an addiction recovery program in Mexico and began to put his life in order. Once he was back on his feet, he began helping others to overcome their addictions as well. He had learned that many lives could be changed and saved. (For a Church program that also incorporates gospel principles in fostering recovery and healing, click on the website Addiction Recovery Program).
Starting a New Life in Canada
After several years of living clean and sober, Eleazar decided to try to come to Canada. When he stood in line at Canada Border Services, he watched as nearly every other person from his country was denied access into Canada. As he waited, he said many silent prayers in his heart. He promised God that if He would allow him to enter the country, he would continually seek to find ways that he could serve his Father in Heaven. He vowed not to stop searching until he found God and felt at home.
When it was his turn to be considered for entrance into Canada, one immigration official stamped his documents letting him in. Almost immediately, another official approached the desk saying that Eleazar shouldn't be given permission to enter, but the decision had already been made. Eleazar was officially in Canada.
When Eleazar got to his hotel later that night, he jumped up and down, overly excited that he had successfully made it into Canada despite the trials he had faced. For a few moments, he almost forgot the promises that he had made in his earlier prayers. The Spirit whispered in his ear, “Remember what you promised Me.” He stopped in his tracks as he recommitted to seek God.
Learning English and Reading the Book of Mormon
As a way of improving his language skills while now living in Canada, he started attending English classes where missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were volunteering as teachers.
After one of the classes, the missionaries invited him to attend Church. The first Sunday he came, the doors were locked. Church meetings had been cancelled due to an ice storm. For a while, Eleazar questioned if in that moment God was trying to tell him that the Church wasn’t the right one.
Around this time, I met Eleazar. I helped him nearly every English class he attended. As we practiced his English assignments, I would also talk to him about the gospel. The Spirit told me that I needed to work closely with him. I was prompted to focus on him because he was ready.
With time, he started reading the Book of Mormon and decided that he would try attending Church again. My companion and I started meeting with him regularly and teaching him the doctrines of the restored gospel. His faith grew. He loved what he was learning and studied deep into it. He became a different man.
He is still working to find answers—he wants to be absolutely sure of what he is doing before he starts making covenants with God, such as baptism. But despite the trials and tribulations that continue to come into his life, he has held fast to the truths that the Spirit has taught him. He has even helped us in our missionary efforts by inviting others to “come and see” the blessings of living by the glorious truths we find only in and through the restored gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Joy of Finding One of Christ’s Lost Sheep
What Eleazar has taught me is the joy of finding one person who is earnestly seeking to find God and His everlasting truths.
Jesus clearly teaches this doctrine in the parable of the lost sheep: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:4-7).
I am so grateful that through my 18 months of service as a missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission, I was able to meet and minister to such a precious soul as Eleazar. As I return home, my prayers are that his life will continue to be watched over and blessed by God.