A few weeks after the plane crash that killed the parents and two of the siblings of Max, Zane, and Elder Porter Openshaw, I had the opportunity to meet with Max and Zane. Because of the special circumstances of this tragic loss, I arranged for them to speak by videoconference with their older brother, Porter, serving a mission in Tarawa, Kiribati.
I am amazed by the remarkable faith of each of these young men. In this difficult trial, their commitment to the gospel increased. Their parents clearly taught them well what it means to live their faith, and when faced with enormous tragedy, they put their trust in the Lord.
I also spoke tonight about Aroldo Cavalcante, a faithful stake president in Brazil who was the first member of his family baptized at age 21. After his baptism, he immediately began preparing to serve a mission. Sadly, Aroldo’s mother was soon after diagnosed with cancer. He promised his dying mother that he would take full responsibility for his two younger sisters and his younger brother. Though a mission seemed out of reach for a time, he later was again impressed that he should serve. After working diligently to save for his mission and take care of his siblings, he was called at the age of 23 to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary.
There is much more to the story of Aroldo’s commitment to his mother to care for his sisters and brother that I didn’t mention this evening. During the years following his mother’s death, he would openly refer to his brother and sisters as his “children.” During his mission, his letters and calls on Christmas and Mother’s Day often addressed the individual challenges of each family member. Through great sacrifice after his mission, Aroldo took financial responsibility for their education and the mission of his brother. Aroldo waited until his sisters and brother were married before he married at age 32. They remain a very close family.
I was very happy that Zane and Max Openshaw, as well as President Aroldo Cavalcante, here for a legal seminar, were in the Conference Center tonight and joined me afterwards for dinner.