TAMPICO, Mexico — Countless Church members look to their parents for direction on gospel-centered living. A few moms and dads look to their children.
Jose Ponce, a patriarch in the Tampico Bosque Stake, and his wife, Colett, say their daughter was something of a family gospel teacher when she was growing up.
Almost three decades ago, the Ponces' enrolled 6-year-old Lara Elizabet in an elementary school operated by the Church in Ciudad Madero, Mexico. The site where the school was built had been a special, almost spiritual place for Jose Ponce when he was a little boy. Still, the elder Ponces knew little about the Church and didn't care to know more.
"[Lara Elizabet] came home from school one day and asked if we could become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but we said no — we didn't want to," recalled Brother Ponce.
Young Lara Elizabet was spiritually sensitive and persistent. Later, she came home from school, accompanied by the missionaries.
"My daughter told me, 'Please mother, don't send them away,' " Sister Ponce said.
The Ponces' agreed to listen, although they were initially more interested in appeasing their daughter than studying the Book of Mormon and learning the Joseph Smith story. Still, the missionaries' message pierced their resistance. After hearing three discussions and the moving testimonies of the elders, the Ponce's agreed to be baptized.
Even after joining the Church, the Ponce's credit their daughter for teaching them the message of the gospel.
Tithe paying, Sister Ponce said, was a struggle that sometimes prompted contention in their home.
"It was very hard to pay tithing because we had no money," she said. "At the time, I didn't think it was right to pay tithing because we didn't have money to eat."
Again, Lara Elizabet would play the role of teacher. A short time after their baptism, the daughter unexpectedly received a cash payment from a family life insurance policy that they had been told would not be paid. The money belonged to Lara Elizabet.
Brother and Sister Ponce asked their daughter what she planned to do with her portion. They hinted at taking a special vacation or maybe buying some new clothes. Lara Elizabet said she wanted to use the money to help pay for their home, then added "But first, I want to pay my tithing."
The parents were humbled by their daughter's faithfulness and her desire to follow the commandment. They followed her example and became full tithe-payers.
"Listening to our daughter's words changed our lives," Sister Ponce said. "Since that day, the Lord has always provided for us."