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Helping a Young Deaf Man Hear Testimonies for the First Time

Helping a Young Deaf Man Hear Testimonies for the First Time
For eight years, Julio dos Santos Martinho was unable to hear and it was difficult to understand him when he spoke. Yet, despite such handicaps, the young man known as Paito attended church, seminary and institute, and gathered friends wherever he went. His smile, his eyes, his warmth all radiated the love he felt for humankind.

Born and raised in Matola, Mozambique, Paito lost his hearing at age 13 as a consequence of both malaria and meningitis and the combination of prescribed medications. He dropped out of school because he could not hear or lip-read. He discovered the LDS church and attended for a time, but that too was difficult.

Some years later, attending the wedding of his sister and her husband who had joined the LDS church, Paito felt the same good spirit he had experienced four years earlier when attending church. Shortly afterwards, he encountered Elder Kronk and Elder Da Roca and told them he had been close to the church several years earlier and wanted to learn more. With a great deal of patience, Paito said, they began teaching him by writing messages, which he would read and reply to by speaking. After four months he was baptized. Paito said that for six years he has been receiving and counting the blessings of the gospel.

Because of total deafness, his great desire to serve a mission was postponed. However the Mozambique Mission President, Paulo Kretly felt that the Lord had a plan for this valiant young man. In 2013, President Kretly received permission from the Area Presidency to take Paito to specialists in South Africa. After testing at the University of Pretoria, Paito was qualified for a cochlear implant, a high-tech electronic hearing device to replace cell functions of the inner ear and restore hearing.

Also known as a bionic ear, the cochlear implant required $45,000 (300,000 SA Rand) to restore hearing in just one ear. The family was assisted by former missionary Bryce Cyrier, who made a video describing Paito’s situation. The video was distributed and posted on Facebook, requesting contributions. When the amount had been raised, the long-awaited surgery was scheduled for when President and Sister Kretly would be in Johannesburg. The three-hour procedure was performed in Pretoria, South Africa, accompanied by the prayers of Paito’s family and friends.

Despite a complication about a week following the surgery, Paito did amazingly well. His head was wrapped in bandages for several weeks while the wound from surgery healed. Given that not every implant is successful, Paito and his family felt some tension as they waited to learn if the implant would work. When the device was turned on, Paito could hear sounds! The Lord had blessed Paito. All the tests showed that everything was working.

When Paito heard testimonies for the first time he thought “it was wonderful.” Understanding speech is becoming easier; he just needs to pay attention. Paito is looking forward to starting his mission. President Kretly said, “Paito is different, special, strong, and has an abiding testimony of the gospel. With this implant, he will serve a great mission, and be a great local leader.”

Watch a video of Paito's story here.