Taken from LDS.org – Blog by Williamson Sintyl| July 10, 2018
Conversion stories have always intrigued me, mostly because I am a convert to the Church myself. But when I hear of stories such as this one, where it is evident that God’s hand was the guiding force in this man’s conversion after saving his life, I get inspired and energized in the gospel.
Williamson Sintyl is a husband and father and has lived in the U.S. since 2015 when he moved to go to school. He owns a nonprofit organization that teaches youth in his native Haiti to believe in themselves and change their own community. Williamson was one of the narrators in the event “Be One: A Celebration of the Revelation on the Priesthood.”
On a Tuesday, for no clear reason, my mother came to school to pick me up early. In Haiti, you don’t usually leave school until your homework is done. The fact that my mother came and picked me up that particular day is a testimony for me that God loves every one of us and watches out for us. That day was when we had the big earthquake. I was 16, and she brought me to one of the orphanages that my father ran. I went in and was sitting and talking with the little children when suddenly the building started shaking and it collapsed on top of us. It was a three-story building full of little children, and I was on the bottom floor.
I didn’t know what had happened, and at that time, I didn’t know much about God even though we were Catholic. While I was in that collapsed building, I remember hearing people screaming and I spoke to God. I told Him, “If you save me, I will serve you.” I was crying and screaming to get out. A voice came to me, telling me to stop screaming because I would use up all my energy screaming and I would die if I didn’t stop. I actually heard that voice telling me to be calm. Over the next 29 hours, one by one, all the little children in that collapsed building stopped crying and screaming. One by one, I could almost hear them passing away. My arm was broken and blood was all over my face. I could hear people digging and praying and looking for survivors. There were no tractors or tools to get people out. They used picks and knives and machetes to dig me out.
All the time I was buried alive, there was someone there with me, keeping me calm. I was close to dying; I was so tired and hungry. I kept hearing that voice that gave me hope. I didn’t know much about God, and I had never said a personal prayer to Him. I used all the faith in me and offered up my first sincere prayer. I asked God to save my life. I promised Him that if He saved my life, I would serve Him for as long as I lived. My mom was outside at the time, talking to God. She received a confirmation: “You’ll find your son!” My dad stayed the whole night close to where I was alive and kept talking to me; even though he couldn’t hear me when I tried to talk to him, he believed that I would be OK. They found 15 bodies before they got to me. They dropped a rope down a hole and a man came down to get me and he got stuck. They had to pull him out before they could get to me. The moment they got me was when I was sure I was going to die. It was the last possible moment.
Haiti was devastated by that earthquake in 2010. Over half a million lives were impacted, with deaths in the tens of thousands.
The saddest part of my story is that all my classmates who stayed in school to do their homework, like we always did, were all dead. If my mother hadn’t come to get me from school like she did, I would have been killed that day. Even then, we still thought life was over. There was no water, no food, no work—but there was still hope. That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I reached out to God to know why He saved my life. Three months later, I met a man who taught me about Jesus Christ. He invited me to church and introduced me to two missionaries, and I was baptized in July, on my birthday, six months after the earthquake. When the missionaries invited me to read the Book of Mormon, I was so thirsty to know for myself that I read it in 15 days. It felt like God had guided me to the place I needed to be in order for me to serve Him. I thank God every day for the earthquake and the way it changed my life and made me a better person.
Read the remainder of this inspiring story at LDS.org.