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Guatemala Earthquake 1976, page 7

Elder Daniel Choc
A tribute to one who sacrificed all to share the gospel.


The last Monday of the camp, March 29, 1976,
the whole zone was working in the town of Patzun.

 
 Several Elders were picking away at the bottom of a 15-foot wall (similar to the one pictured above) when it gave way prematurely and fell.

Everyone scrambled to safety, except for Elder Daniel Choc who was crushed by a four-foot section of brick and cement. Elder Warnock gave him artificial respiration while he was rushed to a school which had been converted into a hospital. But the Lord soon called him home. We thought we had seen the end of death from the earthquake two months ago, but now it took another life that was dear to us. All we could do was ask ourselves "Why was it him under that wall and not me?" In spite of the difficulties he had in his life, Elder Choc was always happy and was a good friend to us. He was also an asset to the mission, being the only native Cakchiquel missionary. He patiently taught us to understand his people and speak their dialect.

We put his dear body in a pickup truck, and Elder Boyce Lines, Elder Julio Salazar, Elder D Warnock, and I took him to Patzicia. President Choc was at the Patzicia chapel when we arrived, and Elder Salazar told him that Daniel had been killed. President Pablo Choc has had nearly the tests of Job, but remains strong and true. He is one of the most noble, dignified, and humble men I know. He and his wife had given birth to ten children, and she was expecting her eleventh when she was killed in the earthquake. Pablo is now left with six living children.


Pablo Choc at Daniel's funeral

The mission president and I prepared Daniel's body and placed it in the casket. He was only about 5' 2", but he was a giant of a man. We left on the lapel of his suit the button he wore which reads "Por sacrificio se dan bendiciones" (Blessings come through sacrifice).


Photo courtesy of Dennis Atkin

I spoke at Daniel's funeral the next day about the five weeks we were companions in Comalapa. During those five weeks he taught me things that I thought I already knew--like what love is and what dedication and commitment are all about. The most productive day of my mission was with Elder Choc. We taught ten discussions that day. As we knocked on doors to find those ten people to teach, and after being turned away at a door, Elder Choc would often run–-not walk-–to knock on the next door. Elder Choc was deserving of two honors. He was the world's first Cakchiquel missionary, and now he is the first Cakchiquel missionary in the spirit world.

"I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead."
Doctrine and Covenants 138:57


Elder Daniel Choc and his family at his missionary farewell

I helped carry Elder Choc's casket to the cemetery and place it in a tomb which was built over the grave of his mother, two brothers, and the twelve other members of the branch we buried on February 5th.


Argueta, Larson, Robbins, and Richman at Daniel's grave

On his tomb is a marble headstone with the following inscription: "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2:17 Daniel Choc (Xicay) Born December 11, 1953 Died March 29, 1976 The first Cakchiquel missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who died serving his people."

I look forward to the day when I cross the veil and meet Elder Choc again with open arms, and I can thank him like I never really did in this life for his friendship and the example he showed me.


Behind the fallen chapel in Patzicia after most of the rubble was removed.
Branch President Pablo Choc, his sons Daniel and Agustin, and Elder David Frischknecht.
 

"It was impossible to get Elder Choc angry at you. You couldn't argue with him either."
-Julio Salazar

 

"Elder Choc taught me through his example the true meaning of brotherly kindness, dedication, and consecration."
-Larry Richman


Fulgencio Choy and Daniel Choc

"He died in the service of the Lord while doing missionary work--fellowshipping and helping a nonmember. What better way to die!" -President Robert B. Arnold

"I have had the privilege to interview Elder Choc and to know the intimate details of his life. I assure you that Elder Choc left this world completely dedicated and completely pure." -President Robert B. Arnold

"I just hope I'm in as good a shape when I die as Elder Choc was." -President Robert B. Arnold

See the following articles in Church magazines about Elder Choc:

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The Dedicated Daniel Choc (Ensign, January 1979)

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Daniel Choc, First Cachiquel Missionary (New Era, April 1978)

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