Luciano at his baptism

Missionaries have the unique opportunity to meet, get to know, and teach thousands and thousands of people over the course of their mission.  But if you have ever been around a recently returned missionary, you will notice that there are a few people they just can’t stop talking about.  There are a few converts that you know, alone, would have made your entire mission worthwhile.  You can’t help but smile when you think about the possibilites of how they will impact future generations and how valuable they will be as leaders of the church someday.

Luciano Concha was that for me.  Despite extremely difficult circumstances in virtually every area of his life; including cancer, loss of an eye, and family struggles; Luciano remained faithful, hopeful, and optimistic about the future.  Teaching him was different than teaching other investigators.  We didn’t need to spend much energy making sure he was listening to us; he loved the gospel.  Luciano always did the reading assignments we gave him, he asked great questions, and seemed to remember everything we taught him.  It was fun because he was so easy to teach he made us feel like we were great missionaries.  Although life was confusing for him, Luciano realized that the Gospel was exactly what he needed.  He was spiritual, intelligent, humble, mature, confident, and charismatic. After only one year he had read the entire Book of Mormon twice, the New Testament, and he was halfway through D&C. and remembered everything He was amazing!

A few months ago I received a barrage of emails from members of the Chiguayante ward telling me that Luciano was involved in an accident.  Luciano was hit by a train. Unlike the six others before him that were hit by the same train, Luciano wasn’t killed.  He did, however, lose his right arm and right leg.

Here in America we have resources.  There are programs and non-profit organizations that support people in Luciano’s situation.  Chile, unfortunately, is a different story.  They have a great fundraiser called “Teleton” that will actually provide Luciano with prosthetics for two years. After that though, he is on his own.  I talked to a prosthesist who told me that prosthetics for Luciano will cost roughly $15,000 every 5 years.  Obviously, this is a price that his family could never afford.  When I thought about what may happen to Luciano, it scared me.  I saw people in Chile that have missing limbs hobbling around with crutches to get from point A to point B, then I winced at the thought of Luciano ending up like that…  Then after a few seconds I realized that crutches aren’t even an option for someone without an arm.  Without prosthetics Luciano cannot possibly live a functional life.

The goal is ambitious, but it is possible.  I don’t think it is an accident that the planets aligned for him like this.  There are few other possible circumstances that would make prosthetics possible than an appeal to this specific audience at this specific time.

If you are like me though, you see a goal of $15,000 every five years and wonder what the $50, $10, $5 or $1 you can afford to contribute will do.  But even small donations will give Luciano a few days that he won’t have to spend in isolation.  And if you think about it, one day of him being functional is an amazing gift.  There are two numbers I can’t wait to give Luciano when this fundraiser is over… The number years that he will have prosthetics and the number of people that were willing to make that happen.  Whether you can donate thousands, hundreds, ten dollars or five dollars; any donation adds one more person to that army of people needed to change Luciano’s life.  I invite you to be one of them.

There’s a reason Luciano’s life was spared when he had cancer as a child.  I don’t believe it was by chance that he was the first person to survive a train accident in Chiguayante in years.  And there is a reason you saw this film today.  He deserves to live life outside of his room, his possible future family deserves an exceptional future husband and father, and frankly, church in Chile can’t afford to have someone like Luciano unable to live a functional life.

So. If you feel like you can be one of those people that makes the difference, I invite you to press the “Donate Now” button right now an help make this happen for Luciano.

Thank you so much,

-Sam Nelson

For the original blog post, about his conversion and how all of this came together Click Here