Bitner Cuellar, named after our beloved prophet Gordon Bitner Hinckley, always dreamed of serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like his mother Karina and father Baldo. His parents were born and raised in El Salvador and served missions in their home country. After they married, they moved to London, Ontario to raise their family. Their two oldest boys—Bitner and Raiden—spent their early years in Ontario before the family settled in Regina, Saskatchewan.
A Mission Dream
Bitner had a lifelong desire to serve a mission, and he began making preparations early in his life. He loved to sing “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” (Hymns, no. 270). In May of 2018, Bitner received his mission call to serve in the Monterey West, Mexico Mission. It was very exciting for the Cuellar family to send their oldest child out to the Mexican Mission Training Center in October of that year. Bitner left on his mission longing to serve God with all of his “heart, might, mind, and strength, that [he] may stand blameless before God at the last day” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2).
While Bitner was serving his mission, he phoned his mom and told her that he had recently had a dream that his younger brother Raiden would be his last companion. His mother smiled at such an idea. She sincerely doubted, however, that such a companionship would ever happen.
Then, in December 2019, Raiden received his call. Bitner was again allowed to phone from Mexico to learn where Raiden would serve. Before the mission call letter was opened, Bitner told Raiden about his dream. Bitner still firmly believed that Raiden would be his last companion, so he assumed that Raiden would be called to Mexico. As Bitner listened on the phone, Raiden opened his mission call: he was to serve in Antofogast, Chile—not anywhere close to Mexico!
Bitner was somewhat surprised yet commented, “Well, at least I guessed the language correctly!”
Raiden left for Chile in December 2019. The brothers served the people of Chile and Mexico faithfully until March 2020. After only three months in the mission field for Raiden, they were both told they would be coming home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Changes the World
Confusion, anxiety, and sadness surrounded the Cuellar home as they waited for news of the return of their two missionaries. Thankfully, the boys returned safely home, hours apart in late March. Both elders chose to return to the mission field as soon as possible, and so they prepared and waited for their new calls. They were even able to spend Mothers’ Day with their family.
In May, President Noblet phoned and informed the brothers that they would both be serving in the Canada Edmonton Mission. How exciting!
The COVID-19 pandemic was teaching that missionaries all over the world need to be encouraged, “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit … I will impart unto you my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-13).
They flew out together at the end of May. After arriving in Edmonton, they said their goodbyes as they embarked on mission calls in different areas. In early August, with just three months left on Bitner’s mission, he received a call from his mission president. Bitner’s companion would be transferring out, and Elder Raiden Cuellar would be his next companion! It is likely that Raiden will be his last companion before Bitner completes his mission in November. Bitner’s dream became a reality.
Christ’s Hands Continue to Guide Our Missionaries
Of these developments, their mother, Karina, says: “I have seen the Lord’s hand through my sons’ missions and our lives here. Bitner has a special name to live up to, and he has always done just that. I have seen miracles happen, and I’m so grateful that we have the gospel in our lives. Raiden still has almost a year to go, and we are not sure if he’s going back to Chile, but I’m sure the Lord knows best and everything will work as He knows what is best for him. I’m so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and his love and tender mercies to us.”