In the summer of 1964, two of my sisters, Iris and Norma, entered the Mormon pavilion of the New York World's Fair out of curiosity about the beautiful temple replica. They liked what they felt and heard and filled out referral cards. Several months later, two missionaries, Elder Homer and Elder Harris, knocked at our door.
Our family of 10 had moved to Bronx, N.Y., four years earlier from Puerto Rico. Our parents did not speak English, but they allowed the missionaries to teach the children. A gospel seed quickly took root in four of the family. Norma, 17; myself; Willie, 13; Rick, 11; and Myriam, 8, all received the discussions. It was Christmas time. We traveled by train and subway to the 81st Street meetinghouse. From the start, we felt a good spirit.
The four of us wanted to be baptized, but our father was hesitant and would not grant permission. It was discouraging at times, but we fortified each other's faith. Soon the missionaries said Father had granted permission for us to be baptized. I always wondered what changed his mind, but I knew it was an answer to our prayers. We were baptized on New Year's Eve day in 1964 — the happiest children ever.
Due to long travel distances, we often spent Sundays in the meetinghouse, blessing and passing the sacrament for the two Manhattan wards. Our first bishop was Elder Earl C. Tingey, formerly of the Seventy and now president of the Washington D.C. Temple. He was always very aware of us. Members arranged rides and saw that we attended meetings. This love and care impressed our family. Soon, other family members sought baptism.
Before leaving for my mission to Chile a few years later, I baptized my father, while Rick baptized our sister Lucy. After my mission, I was given permission to fly to Puerto Rico to baptize my brother Hector and his wife who had returned to live there. My mother, father and sister Lucy moved to the small city of Aibonito, Puerto Rico, where they were the only members of the Church. They first met in Hector's home. Then they rented a facility. Now they meet in a meetinghouse. Hector served as president of that branch several times.
Since that time, the Lopez family has grown to 88. We recently gathered for a reunion in the Las Vegas Nevada Temple where Rick, one of the first baptized, now serves. From that simple beginning has come a family of faith that knows the joys and blessings of service in His kingdom.
— William Lopez