President Uchtdorf Forged Friendships for the Church in Tijuana

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 28 December 2015

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, center left, presents a painting of the Savior to Tijuana Archbishop Rafael Romo Munoz. He is joined, from left, by Sister Kristen Oaks, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, and Sister Evelia De Hoyos.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • President Uchtdorf spent time with Tijuana Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz and the city’s top elected leader, Mayor Jorge Astiazarán.

TIJUANA, MEXICO

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently spent a few days in Tijuana to dedicate Mexico’s 13th temple. But his activities there stretched beyond temple duties.

The Second Counselor in the First Presidency also visited with a pair of key local religious and civic leaders—making new friends for the Church in this vibrant border city.

On December 12, President Uchtdorf spent time with Tijuana Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz and the city’s top elected leader, Mayor Jorge Astiazarán.

Also participating in the visits were Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and their wives, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf and Sister Kristen M. Oaks, along with Mexico Area President Benjamin De Hoyos of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Evelia De Hoyos.

A holiday visit with the archbishop

The Brethren visited with Archbishop Romo Muñoz at the Cathedral of Tijuana. It was a busy day for the city’s presiding Catholic clergyman. Catholics in the city and throughout Mexico were observing the “Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe” celebration.

According to Catholic tradition, on December 12, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego and told him to build a church on the Hill of Tepeyac. Juan Diego’s account of the vision was initially met with resistance—yet he remained true to his faith and the church was eventually built.

During their discussion of the religious holiday, President Uchtdorf spoke of Joseph Smith and the First Vision that ushered in the Restoration of the gospel. The Prophet Joseph, he said, also endured calls to deny his theophany, but he never wavered.

The archbishop toured the Tijuana Mexico Temple during its recent open house. He said he was intrigued by the temple baptistry, the interior artwork, and the doctrine of sacred ordinances performed in the temple for the dead.

“The temple is really a symbol of our way through life,” said President Uchtdorf.

“It is a place where we learn about what that path through life means. We hope that it will bring peace to the people who go there.”

He also discussed the Church’s organizational system and how laymen such as he and Elder Oaks are divinely called to be prophets, apostles, and other presiding leaders.

“We are ordinary men,” said President Uchtdorf to the Catholic leader, “but we are blessed to serve the God of the universe, the Savior of the world. Together with you and all Christians we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The visiting Brethren presented Archbishop Romo Muñoz with an original painting of Jesus Christ and a copy of James E. Talmage’s classic book The House of the Lord.

Breakfast with the mayor

Earlier in the day, President Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks, and the Mexico Area Presidency hosted Mayor Astiazarán for breakfast at the Tijuana temple grounds. They discussed the Church in Mexico and strengthened their friendship. Mayor Astiazarán commented on the beauty of the temple, calling it a “must see” landmark in Tijuana. He also mentioned the overall positive influence of Church members on their community and neighborhood. The mayor observed that whenever an LDS chapel was built, the community and neighborhood changed for good, even by the outer appearance. The Church leaders presented a statuette of Jesus Christ to the mayor.

President Uchtdorf expressed his hope that Mayor Astiazarán and Archbishop Muñoz would one day take the time and accept the invitation to visit Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, center, engages in a December 12 breakfast discussion with Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazaran. Sister Harriet Uchtdorf is at left. Photo by Jason Swensen.