Blanca was born in a small rural village in Colombia. The village was poor. There was no electricity and no cars. Her family had nothing. Of their eight children, Blanca was number five.
When she was 13 her father sent her to live with a relative in the city of Cali. She attended school and also worked for her survival. She was expected to provide for her three younger siblings.
It was when she was 14 that she had the dream. A dream that would not make sense for another 30 years. In this dream she was taken by a guide to a large white home. Upon entering the home she saw a woman. She remembered the facial features of both the guide and the woman in the house. And she had a very distinct feeling come over her – that her life would change forever as a result of being in this house.
In 1994 Blanca moved from Colombia to the Philadelphia area. Although she was unable to speak English, she and her younger sister Yusnay created a successful house cleaning business. One of her current clients was Mary Jane Babbel. Mary Jane and her husband David served as mission presidents in the Brasilia Brazil Mission, 2002–2005, and they had returned to Philadelphia where he was a professor at the Wharton School, the graduate school of business affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
Within the first couple weeks of arriving in Philadelphia in July 2007 we had lunch with the Babbels. A few days later Joyce called Mary Jane seeking leads to hire a new house cleaner for the Mission Home. Mary Jane suggested that she introduce Joyce to Blanca and Yusnay.
When Blanca entered the Mission Home she had a stunning surprise – her dream from many years ago rushed back into her mind. And then she recognized Joyce as the woman in the home and then she realized that Mary Jane had been the guide in the dream. And the powerful feeling came back to her – that somehow her life was going to be changed forever.
Blanca and Yusnay came to the Mission Home every Tuesday, and some Wednesdays, to clean the house. They were always friendly and polite, but we weren’t able to communicate with them due to the language barrier. Occasionally I would have Spanish speaking missionaries with me and I would ask them to speak to Blanca and Yusnay. Eventually these random conversations turned into formal teaching appointments at Blanca’s home.
A couple months ago Blanca was baptized. She asked me to baptize her. I memorized the words in Spanish and it was a very special, spirit-filled baptism.
Yesterday Yusnay was baptized by David Babbel. Blanca, now 46 years old, spoke at the baptism and told us, for the first time, of her dream that occurred 32 years ago. As a relatively new member of the church, Blanca can already see that her life has been changed forever. She is passionate about her membership in the church and feels in her heart the truth to which she subscribes.
Joyce was both surprised and overwhelmed when she heard Blanca tell of her dream. When Blanca had the dream, Joyce was a 25 year old young mother with two children. She was living in a small apartment on the campus of Stanford University where I was in graduate school. We had no money and we certainly had no idea that we’d be in Philadelphia in 30 years, serving as mission presidents! There are millions of little details, decisions, coincidences and events that transpired in Blanca's life and Joyce's life over the past 30 years. And God knew this. As He does about each of our lives. He is more involved in the details of our lives than we can imagine.
A scripture from the Book of Mormon comes to mind: "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise," (Alma 37:6 - about 73 B.C.)
It has come to my understanding that if we follow God’s commandments and fill our hearts with His love, then all that is supposed to happen in our lives…will! That the hand of God has been involved with both Blanca and Joyce is undeniable. It fills me with awe and wonder.