My lesson in Gospel Doctrine this week is about the Kirtland Saints and the sacrifices they made to build the temple. I decided that I would talk also about modern day members and the sacrifices made to attend the temple. I asked Mom to send me Grandma and Grandpa's story, because although I knew the basic outline I was hazey on some details and I thought it would be a good story to have written down. It is really touching and I wanted to to share it with you all.
Mama and Daddy joined the Church when they were young adults and met at church. They eventually got married, even though Mama’s family was against it. They were very active in the Church and by the time they had three kids, they wanted to be sealed in the temple. There were no temples in South America at the time, so they sold some of their belongings, rented their house and booked a passage on a freightliner from Buenos Aires to New York City. I was three years old.
As a side note, Daddy was a CPA and doing very well in Argentina. They lived in a beautiful 2 story brick house, Mama had several fur coats, jewels, season tickets to the opera, a maid, etc. There was a least one maid—I remember Maruja, the maid that we had when we left.
Our trip was over Christmas, because my earliest memory is of receiving from the ship crew a Christmas present. They gave Hugo, Sylvia and me each a little model of a boat. I remember mine falling over board. I also remember seeing flying fish. We arrived in NYC sometime the first part of January 1952.
From NYC we took a train to Salt Lake City. We were sealed in the SL temple. There is an article with a picture of us in the Deseret News (or maybe the Church News) about the whole thing.
I’m not sure if Daddy bought a car or how we got to Mesa, Arizona—but that’s where we ended up. Mama and Daddy had a lot of good friends there that had been missionaries in Argentina, including the one that baptized Mama. The plan was to earn enough money to go back to family and friends in Argentina (that’s why they didn’t sell their house).
Daddy couldn’t speak English and so he couldn’t work as a CPA. In those days, there weren’t many people in the states that spoke Spanish, like there are today. We were definitely in the minority. He ended up driving a tractor in the cotton fields that were owned by one of his friends. A few months after we arrived, Nelson was born (April 30) and not long after that Mama got polio. It was a horrible time for my parents. Pretty much alone (without family—Mama was very close to her 5 sisters and her parents and that was a horrible sacrifice for her. In fact, I have often thought that it was so traumatic to her that it contributed to her depression) in a foreign country, they didn’t speak the language, they were dirt poor (something they were not used to), Mama deathly ill (in fact they pulled all her teeth, she was 32 and wearing false teeth-- and Daddy had to learn how to do therapy to help her walk again) and seemingly stuck in a hopeless situation. But I never heard them complain about their decision because being sealed was so important to them.
It didn’t end there. When Nelson was two years old, a neighboring teenager throwing dirt clods with friends threw one that hit Nelson in the eye. I was little, but I am sure it was a medical expense nightmare and worry (no Medicaid back then either). Nelson eventually lost all his sight in that eye. On another occasion that I remember, Daddy was given a job as a bookkeeper or something at a car dealership in Tempe (it was called Dana Bros.). Anyway, because his English was not yet good enough they fired him. He didn’t have the courage to tell Mama, because he thought it work break her heart and he didn’t know what he was going to do. So Mama would fix him lunch and he would take it like he was going to work and then sit in the park all day trying to figure out what to do next. (no welfare, food stamps or unemployment back then either—is that a clue as to why I get so frustrated with today’s generation always complaining).
I don’t know how in the world they saved enough money, but in 1954 or 1955 (I need to check on the date) we all went back to Argentina. Daddy got a good job in downtown Buenos Aires. One day however, civil war broke out—they ousted Juan Peron from the presidency and there was shooting and bombing in the capital. Well, Daddy was right in the middle of that mess and I remember Mama so worried. We went to grandma’s house (mama’s moms house) and listened on the radio. Daddy arrived there very late at night with horror stories of the killing and dead bodies he had seen. I think it was that horror that made then decide it was better to return to the states and raise their family there. We went back to Mesa after being in Argentina only 9 months. It wasn’t until 1957 or so until Daddy got a job as a CPA. All those years of struggle and suffering because they wanted the blessings of the temple for their family. The greatest thing I learned from Mama and Daddy is their love for the Lord no matter what is going on. They never complained about making the decision to sacrifice for temple blessings. It was an incredible sacrifice.