President Nelson Lauded in Mexico for Church’s Commitment to Family

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 9 March 2017

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presents a statue of a family to Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of the state of Tamaulipas, during a recent visit to Mexico.

Article Highlights

  • The Church’s long-established commitment to the preservation of families has earned it many friends in Mexico.
  • Leaders reminded members that the Lord blesses His children when they keep His commandments.


The Church’s tireless defense of the family and its divinely charged mission to serve others has helped it gain influential friends and widespread respect across Mexico.

That deepening connection between the Church and this nation of more than a million Latter-day Saints was perhaps never more evident than during the recent visit here of President Russell M. Nelson. The President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was received in Mexico with unprecedented enthusiasm by national lawmakers and key religious and business leaders.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of members across Mexico gathered in live audiences or via nationwide internet broadcasts to listen to counsel and direction from President Nelson and Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Senior President of the Presidency of the Seventy.

With its 13 temples, 240 stakes, and 34 missions, “Mexico is now part of the heart of the Church,” said President Nelson in a Church News interview.

During their nine-day Mexico trip (February 18–26), President Nelson and Elder Clayton also participated in the annual review of the Mexico Area. They returned home uplifted by the Church’s continued growth and the dedication of its priesthood and Relief Society leaders and many members.

The Mexico Area, noted President Nelson, is directed by an Area Presidency of proven capacity: Elder Paul B. Pieper, Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela, and Elder Rafael E. Pino.

“We give a lot of credit to these three leaders and their wonderful wives,” he said.

Meetings with civic and religious leaders

President Nelson and Elder Clayton were in Mexico at a time of social turbulence. Amidst challenges to traditional families, many in the government have come together in defense of the family. Religious groups have also been galvanized by this pivotal, pro-family effort.

The Church’s long-established commitment to the preservation of families has earned it many new friends in Mexico in recent years.

On February 20, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes and prominent Mexican business leader Patrick Slim visited with President Nelson, Elder Clayton, and the Mexico Area Presidency at the their hotel in Mexico City.

Cardinal Aguiar Retes and Mr. Slim are both well known for their own commitment to families and protecting religious freedoms.

“They are also very anxious to defend traditional marriage and safeguard the youth of Mexico,” said President Nelson.

The next day, February 21, marked a historic moment for the Church in Mexico when the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was recognized on the floor of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies—the nation’s lower house of Congress.

“President Nelson was introduced on the floor as a Church leader and was acknowledged for the good the Church has done in defending religious freedom and the family in Mexico,” said Elder Clayton.

President Russell M. Nelson, at center, was recognized on February 21, 2017, on the floor of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies—the nation's lower house of Congress. The Church leader was lauded for his commitment to preserving the family and religious liberties.

President Russell M. Nelson meets with Monterrey Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez at the home of the cleric.

The visiting Brethren and the Mexico Area Presidency also enjoyed a breakfast with members of the Mexico Chamber of Deputies. Once again, President Nelson and his colleagues spoke about the Church’s commitment to championing the families of Mexico.

Other meetings with key religious and government leaders included a visit to the home of the governor of Tamaulipas, Javier Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, and his wife, First Lady Mariana Gomez de Garcia Cabeza de Vaca. Monterrey Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez hosted a breakfast meeting for the Brethren at his home. Their discussions were anchored to their shared commitment to families and serving others.

President Nelson told the Church News that since his call to the Twelve 33 years ago, he has never felt such enthusiasm and regard from civic and religious leaders.

“It’s a sign of respect for the members of the Church in Mexico who are good citizens and who uphold the law and make their communities better places to live,” he said. “The people in Mexico have learned that the Latter-day Saints are people of action. They are an active force for good in their communities.”

Worshipping along with the members and missionaries

Both President Nelson and Elder Clayton relished being with the Mexican Saints.

They participated in a variety of member meetings—including priesthood leadership conferences, multistake conferences, an employee devotional, and a youth devotional that was broadcast across the country. Their itinerary included stops in Mexico City, Culiacan, Ciudad Victoria, and Monterrey.

Their counsel to the members was simple: the Lord blesses His children when they keep His commandments.

“I was impressed with the children and the young people. They are energetic and enthusiastic about their membership in the Church,” said President Nelson. “They are being taught well in their homes.”

The February 19 youth devotional broadcast allowed young people from across Mexico to submit questions for the Brethren and their wives. The tech-savvy youth participated using various electronic devices. Their questions for President Nelson and the others were thoughtful and focused on building their relationship with the Lord.

Gathering with the missionaries was also a tender highlight. The Brethren participated in missionary meetings in Ciudad Victoria, Monterrey, Culiacan, and at the Mexico City Missionary Training Center.

“Being with the missionaries is among the happiest things we do,” said Elder Clayton.

The missionaries, added President Nelson, “are the pride of the Church. There is no better investment of our time than to visit with the missionaries.”

On January 29, 2013, President Nelson announced plans to convert the Church-owned Benemerito de las Americas high school into a missionary training center. He promised that the new Mexico City MTC would become a place of learning for legions of new missionaries called to Spanish-speaking missions.

Four years later, he presided at a February 21 missionary devotional at the MTC. In the audience were hundreds of young elders and sisters preparing to share the gospel in Spanish.

“To get closure on that promise was a very satisfying experience,” he said.

President Russell M. Nelson, left, is greeted by Mr. Javier Bolaños, president of the Mexico Chamber of Deputies, and Congresswoman Alejandra Reynosa Sanchez.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks to elders and sisters at a missionary conference in Monterrey, Mexico, during his February 2017 tour of the Mexico Area.

President Russell M. Nelson and Elder and Sister Clayton greet missionaries following a missionary conference in Monterrey, Mexico, during Elder Nelson’s February 2017 tour of the Mexico Area.