In November 2007, I visited Brazil for the first time since my 1967-69 mission. As my wife and I travelled, we were able to learn how one person embracing the gospel can change a family and area for generations.
During our travels we met Florianopolis Stake President Adalton P. Parrela, who told our group of former missionaries and their spouses how the Church had liberated his parents and nine siblings from poverty. President Parrela expressed his love for those who taught his parents, and sincere appreciation to all the missionaries from 40 and 50 years ago who laid the foundation for the growth of the Church in Brazil. "Each one of you," he told our group, "planted similar seeds."
The next day we attended Church in Curitiba where I saw Antonio Kogiaridis, a man I had helped baptize 40 years ago. When I introduced myself, he told me of the progress that had occurred over the many years. Brother Kogiaridis had served as a bishop four times, had served a mission with his wife to Greece, and was currently serving as a service missionary. An area that once had two branches now had 13 stakes.
The two toddlers I had known in the Kogiaridis home were married to men who had also been bishops; his son (not yet born during my mission) was also married, and currently serving as a stake president.
In fast and testimony meeting, Brother Kogiaridis spoke about how much he owed to the missionaries who had introduced his family to the Church. He invited me to the pulpit and put his arm around me as he finished his testimony. He then motioned to me to add mine. The next brother bore testimony of how Brother Kogiaridis had helped him as his bishop and home teacher, and said he was, therefore, grateful to me. Through the rest of the meeting, members I had never met thanked me for bringing the Kogiaridis' into the Church and into their lives.
While listening to President Parrela in Florianopolis, I had no idea how soon I would personally witness the fruits of seeds I helped plant as a missionary 40 years earlier. Cloyd Gatrell, Carlisle Ward, Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake