Eleven-year old Ruben had already chosen the tree where he would hang himself. It wouldn't be hard. All he would have to do was throw a rope over a branch, and in a little while, it would all be over. Ruben lived in a shanty town in northern Argentina.
Although still a child himself, Ruben was forced to find food not only for himself but for his younger brothers and sisters. But there was little food to be found. Ruben had dropped out of school and spent his days in the streets of the city, often standing at street intersections offering to clean the windshields of stopped cars.
But as the days wore on, he felt an increasing despair. The few coins he earned were hard to come by and insufficient to feed himself, let alone his younger brothers and sisters. The miracle he yearned for never came. It was in this state of mind that Ruben had decided to end his life.
As he stood, deep in thought, a truck pulled up. "I'm looking for the barrio, 13 of July," the driver said. "Do you know where that is?"
"That is where I live," Ruben said, as he gave the driver directions.
"What's in the truck?" Ruben asked.
"Where did it come from?"
"What does it matter?" the driver responded.
When the truck arrived, the driver explained to a woman, who appeared to be in authority, that he had brought food.
"Bring the package in here," she said.
The driver opened the back of the truck revealing not a package, but an entire truckload of food. The truck was filled with hundreds of boxes of food: rice, beans, oil, sugar. . . . More food than Ruben had ever imagined.
People from the barrio surrounded the truck and cheered for the food and for Ruben. He had given the driver directions.
The next day, food was distributed to those in need. And Ruben and his family received enough food to last them for months. From that day forward, Ruben never spoke of suicide again. Others knew of his suffering and cared enough to help.
Not long after, word spread that the food had come from a Church that cared for people who were hungry, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Neil K. Newell, Welfare Services. For more information on the Church's welfare program, please see www.providentliving.org.