When Cathy Salvador was a ten year old girl growing up in Ecuador, her older sister went traveling for several years. When she returned five years later, she was married to a young Mormon guy and had a four year old daughter. She wanted to talk about the Mormon church, but no on one in Cathy’s family wanted to know about the church except Cathy, who was fifteen by then. She didn’t get much time to spend with her sister on her visit but her sister asked Cathy to find two young men with white shirts who she told Cathy would be called elders or missionaries.
It took Cathy several months but she finally found them. Cathy’s mother, however, was upset and said that any other church than their own was of the devil. Cathy desperately wanted to be baptized but knew she would never get permission while she was underage.
Cathy read the Book of Mormon in secret though. “I was amazed,” she says. “I really enjoyed reading the book, so I waited to be alone with my father, and I said to him, ‘Daddy, you have read many books, but you still have not read the Book of Mormon. It is a wonderful book. It talks about Jesus Christ in the Americas,’ and I left the book on his desk.”
She waited for him to say something to her about the book, but when he finally did, it was not the reaction Cathy had hoped for. He couldn’t accept a God who allowed ugly things to happen and despite Cathy’s attempts to explain, he didn’t want to listen, which saddened her.
She attended church several times in secret, but she felt really bad about having to sneak to do it. “When I turned seventeen years old, I talked to my father and said to him, ‘Father, I have waited all these years to be a Mormon, please, Daddy, sign the permission for me to get baptized. I know the church is true, I know without any doubt.’”
He consented and she was baptized with only two missionaries and one other person from her branch in attendance. There was no baptismal font, only a water container for washing clothes. She had to kneel down for the very cold water to cover her. But despite the sparse conditions, Cathy says of that night, “I was full of joy.”
Sadly, Cathy’s mother didn’t take it well and tried to force her to change her mind. Her brothers told her the “gringos” had brainwashed her. When her mother began to beat her to punish her for joining the Church, Cathy realized she had to leave home.
Within a few years, she served a mission. Like Alma, her desire was to “go forth and speak with the trump of God.” After her mission she worked for the Church, first for the GSU, then for the Quorum of the Seventy. “Those days were the most wonderful years of learning and serving,” she says. But then, seemingly overnight, everything went terribly wrong in her marriage and she was forced to leave with her daughter and come to California. “I did not want to come. I cried for days and nights. We were very sad. My daughter took me to receive a priesthood blessing. My Heavenly Father promised me that wherever I go I will be fine because angels will take care of me. A special warm feeling came over me. All the way coming to California, I was imagining to see angels, yes, angels, in white tunics, white hair, and bright faces.”
It didn’t happen but she was sure it was a matter of time. She was happy to see her family in California because it had been so long since she’d last seen them, but before very long they began to suggest that maybe the reason she was so poor was that she was giving tithing to the church. She asked them, “’Is that what being rich means to you?’ And I felt like not saying anything else.”
One day, feeling lonely, she went to Melinda Park to cry. She didn’t have any friends yet, and she wondered what she was doing in California. As she sat there, she began to listen and a voice quietly explained to her the purpose of being here. “The purpose of being California was to teach my family in my daily life about our beliefs, how we worship God, how Mormons live, and finally to get to know me. Then I asked, ‘How? How am I going to do it? I have no strength. I still have a pain inside of me.’ Then I remembered the blessing I received and asked, ‘Where are the angels?’ A few weeks later, I heard the doorbell and when I opened I saw two men. In seconds I had the same feeling when I received the blessing in Ecuador.”
She knew she was seeing her angels. They were her home teachers, dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, not flowing white robes and white hair, but she says, “I just wanted to shout, run, cry. I knew my Heavenly Father was sending me angels to help me.”
For two years she had lived in her sister’s living room with people coming and leaving any time, although she never stopped praying or reading the scriptures. It was not easy, but she didn’t give up doing all these special things. Little by little, her family began to stay quiet when they saw her kneeling down to pray or read her scriptures. They also asked her to pray for them, and sought her advice because they thought of her as being very close to God. They would even request that she write their names in at the temple.
“About a month ago, my sister told me, ‘Cathy, you know I am doing fine, I have my house, a good job, my lovely family but I do not know why I feel empty.’ I said to her, ‘Sister, you need God in your life.’ I remembered how my sister three years before had said I was poor because I didn’t have a house or material things. Cathy said, “Sister, that dark day when my children’s father lost everything and left us; that day, sister, my children and I promised to be together and faithful in the church. I promised to keep working hard and they promised me to study hard, and they did. They served missions and finished their studies, and married in the temple. Sister, I am very rich. I have god, my children, and angels, yes. My home teachers, bishop, visiting teachers, and friends.”