OAXACA, Mexico A grateful woman, Cleotilde Alvarez de Melchor speaks of her many years of service in the Church as one long happy experience, from which she reaped great blessings.
Her blessings are her children, a large family that holds enough callings to almost lead a stake. Among them are a stake president, counselor, bishop, bishop's counselor, stake and full-time missionaries, and Young Women, Relief Society and Primary presidents. All but one of her 11 living children were married in the temple, and all of them have been sealed to Sister Melchor and her late husband, Jesus Melchor. Most of her sons are professionals who gained their preparatory education at Church schools.
A worker in the Oaxaca Mexico Temple, which was dedicated March 11, 2000, Sister Melchor said: "I have so many blessings I am not able to enumerate them. I cannot calculate all the blessings we have received because we kept the commandments. We have been blessed in abundance."
Those blessings began in 1960 when she and four of her oldest children were baptized into the Oaxaca Branch. About 20 members then attended branch meetings. As the branch slowly grew, sacrament meeting was held once in the morning and once in the afternoon so that everyone could be accommodated in the small house of prayer in which they met.
"The families were very kind and we were good friends," she said. "Really, my callings sustained me in the Church."
She was involved in teaching the first years. She also went visiting teaching. She visited several faithful families in a small village about six miles outside of town where no buses were available.
"We walked a lot. We went to the hills, we went on trails. We had great satisfaction from this service, and we became strong as we overcame our problems."
She said that others had more serious problems than she did. One of the struggles she and her husband had, however, was to provide enough food for their large family.
"My husband worked long hours, but we had many deficiencies in the home. I prayed to Heavenly Father, saying 'You gave us many children. Now, please help us to provide for them.' "
She helped by selling clothing, chocolate and other things on the street. Gradually their situation improved.
Some of the highlights for the family were the branch socials. The branch gathered often for dinners, dances, plays and lessons. As the branch grew, plans were made to build a meetinghouse. All the branch members worked together, even the women and youth, in the arduous project.
The women made lunch for the men. "They worked so hard, their appetites were doubled," said Sister Melchor.
Each family was given a sum of money to raise for the construction project, according to its resources.
"We sold our television, our watches, rings and our jewelry," she said. The goal was not insurmountable because "we did not have to pay it all at once."
The Melchor family began to branch out, and Brother Melchor, who was baptized about the time the meetinghouse was built, began building homes and selling them.
Then, said Sister Melchor, "my sons had food in abundance. But the bread of most importance was the Living Bread of the gospel. I affirm that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that the Holy Spirit guides us and prepares us to live in the celestial kingdom."
John L. Hart's e-mail: [email protected]