The mild suggestions of a Sunday School inservice leader had a lasting influence on Guillermo Mario Perotti, newly baptized into the Church.
Brother Perotti, who was 24 and single when he joined the Church in 1964, was called after two weeks to teach Sunday School. Although the prospect of teaching was frightening, the young man studied hard and delivered what he thought was a good lesson. Class members came up after the lesson and told him what a good job he had done, confirming his satisfaction."I was very proud of myself," he said. "Until the inservice leader told me that I needed to improve in some areas. She told me that I told too many jokes and some of my jokes weren't appropriate, and not to put my foot on the bench.
"I was sad and I told myself that someday I would get even. I soon got even by asking her on a date. We have an expression in Spanish: `Revenge is sweet,' and my revenge was sweet. That inservice leader from the Sunday School is now my wife and the mother of our five children."
"That is his story," said Sister Marina Perotti. "I was actuallly very nice to him. And he still puts his foot on the bench when he teaches."
During the 31 years the couple has been married, they have seen the Church in Lima grow from a handful of members to thousands, from when they knew every member by name to where they can hardly keep up on the number of stakes in Peru - which is now 80.
After being a member of the Church about a year - a year before being married - Brother Perotti felt impressed to pray for the means to go to the temple. A few months later, he was awarded a three-month scholarship with all expenses paid to travel to Washington, D.C., and later to Mexico. During this time he traveled to Arizona and received his temple blessings.
Sister Perotti is among the early members in Peru, and was first introduced to the Church in 1961, two years after the Andes Mission was created. She became the first single Peruvian to go to the temple, joining an excursion to the Salt Lake Temple in 1964.
She became caught up in "the golden American dream" and wanted to live in the United States and remain, instead of returning with the temple excursion.
But while on the excursion, she received her patriarchal blessing. In the blessing, she was instructed that she would become a leader among her people in Peru.
"That struck me like thunder," she said. "I didn't discuss it with anyone; I just changed my plans and returned to Peru."
Brother and Sister Perotti's desire to go frequently to the temple was realized in 1986 when the Lima Peru Temple was completed and dedicated almost in their backyard, just a few blocks from their home. Brother Perotti was set apart as a temple sealer and Sister Perotti was set apart as an ordinance worker. Both have served faithfully in the temple for many years.
In the early years after their marriage, they both held several callings. Brother Perotti served as branch president, district counselor, president and counselor in the Lima Peru Stake, and regional representative. He is currently director of public affairs in Peru. Sister Perotti served in many capacities in the Relief Society. They also lived in Colombia, Puerto Rico and Ecuador from 1987-1996.
While in the presidency of the Lima Peru Stake, Pres. Perotti was invited to Salt Lake City to general conference and training. He used his vacation time to accept this invitation. At the same time, Sister Perotti stayed home with the children and at times felt very lonesome.
"Something bad happened every time he wasn't here," she said. "I began to resent that he was always being spiritually nourished and I was here taking care of the children by myself.
"One night while he was in Salt Lake City, I woke up to find that a water pipe had burst and water was everywhere. It was a nightmare, a very full night. The next morning our son woke up and wanted to listen to conference. But I was miles away from the spirit of conference."
But she turned on the radio and began to listen. "That conference, one of the leaders expressed special thanks for the thousands of women who supported their husbands, and for their patience. He reminded us that the resurrected Christ didn't appear first to a priesthood leader, but had first appeared to Mary.
"His words went directly to my heart. It altered my attitude.
"We have had many sacred experiences in the Church," she continued. "Even if we have had to learn some principles the hard way. We learn by obeying the principle, practicing it and then receiving the blessing."
One principle of happiness was practiced recently when she met in a reunion with a group of eight school friends.
"They started drinking and telling off-color jokes. They asked why I didn't laugh. I explained that I didn't like those kind of jokes. Then they began talking of their individual unhappiness, and the conversation turned to unpleasant topics and contention. At the close of the reunion, one turned to me and said, `Please help me. You are the closest one to God. Please say a prayer for me.' "
She said that experience illustrated the "tremendous responsibility" of Church members living worthily and setting a good example to those around them.
"There is so much hopelessness without the principles of the gospel," she said. "We have seen in our own lifetimes how much iniquity and moral decay is menacing families. We need to be closer each day to God in these perilous times. We find in the Church an oasis from the world."
One example of perilous times came some 12 years ago when terrorists burst into the office building where Brother Perotti worked. Two men entered the plush lobby and one hit him with a pistol handle, then tried to shoot him. He ran upstairs, pursued closely by the pistol-shooting assailant. Brother Perotti managed somehow to break a brass bar over a window and jumped to the ground. He landed in the neighbor's garden.
Seeing him fall, the neighbors began shouting "They killed Mr. Perotti! They killed Mr. Perotti!" The assailants came and began kicking at Brother Perotti. He was shot in the hand. The next shot would have been fatal, but the gun misfired.
"It was a miracle," said Brother Perotti. He said that since that time, conditions have improved in Peru and crime has been reduced.
Brother Perotti believes the Church will continue to grow and progress. The recent visit by President Gordon B. Hinckley was influential. "Everybody remembers him. He loves Peru so much and he is a great influence on us and on the growth of the Church."