20 October 2013
Hermana Serna is one of my favorite temple patrons. At 79 years of age, she stands about four-foot seven-inches tall on a strong, thick frame. Her light-auburn hair is only lightly touched with occasional strands of grey as it weaves its way through the long, thick braid she can sit on. Her eyes are lively and bright and her honey-colored face folds into a hundred smiles as she talks. She loves telling stories about her childhood out on the ranch in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It is easy to believe that she really was better than any man in the family at training and riding the horses, as she claims. This rugged little jewel of a woman bore 12 children. She can't remember how many grand-children she has; but she is absolutely sure that she has ten great-grandchildren--so far!
When asked how she came to join the church, she started to laugh. She said that she was a terrible trial to the Elders. Her husband was taking the lessons, but wouldn't get baptized without her. He and the Elders tried everything, but she refused to listen to the lessons. They would try to surprise her at home to sneak in a lesson, but her house is on top of a hill and she could see them coming from blocks away. As soon as she caught site of them working their way up the hill, she would go out the back door and down the street to hide in her mother-in-law's house. Finally, she gave in and listened to the Elders because her husband would not give up! She not only listened, she believed. She says now that it is the very best thing that has ever happened to her and she will be forever grateful for her husband's persistence.
With all the trouble she caused the Elders, I wondered out loud if she remembered who it was who taught her the gospel and baptized her. "Oh yes," she said. "It was Elder Joel Brett Smith, a cowboy from Idaho. He baptized me in Monterrey in 1972. I have tried everything to find him, with no success--oh, how I would like to thank him!"
The night I spoke with her, Hermana Serna was in the temple with two very handsome young men. She introduced one as her grandson, who was leaving to serve a mission in Coahuila, Mexico the next week; and the other as his brother, who had recently returned from his mission. You have never seen a prouder grandma anywhere in the world.
I want to take Hermana Serna home with me!