SANTIAGO, Chile—Elder Robert E. Wells of the First Quorum of the Seventy has taken up residence here as the newly appointed Area Supervisor for Chile-Argentina.
Elder Wells, whose assignment was announced by the First Presidency prior to Christmas, becomes the third resident General Authority in South America. The other two Brethren are Elder James E. Faust, supervisor for the Brazil-Uruguay Area, and Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, supervisor for the Andes Area, which comprises Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
Originally, Elder Faust included Argentina in his area, and Elder Tuttle had Chile under his supervision. Both of these Brethren were appointed resident area supervisors in the summer of 1975.
There are now eleven General Authorities residing in other areas of the world than Utah. Other than Elders Faust, Tuttle, and Wells, there are (in alphabetical order): Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, British Isles; Elder Jacob de Jager, Southeast Asia-Philippines; Elder Charles A. Didier, Europe West (Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the French-speaking area of Switzerland); Elder J. Thomas Fyans, Mexico-Central America; Elder John H. Groberg, Hawaii-Pacific Islands; Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, Japan-Far East; Elder Robert L. Simpson, Pacific-Polynesian Islands; and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Europe (Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the German-speaking area of Switzerland).
Elder Wells, who was sustained as a new member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the 1976 October general conference, is no stranger to Latin America. He served as a missionary in Argentina and then returned as a bank official to live and work in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Brazil.
“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity that I have had to live among and to work with the people of South America,” he says. “I have seen the Church expand rapidly and become a power for good in those countries as the people were touched by the Spirit and accepted the gospel.”
Among those that Elder Wells has taught were Chilean workers in a logging camp just across the border from Argentina. “At the time, my companion and I, working in southern Argentina, crossed through the Andes by horseback and taught at a logging camp. We were the first missionaries in Chile in the twentieth century.
“We found that the men far outnumbered the women who came to hear us. In South America that is unusual. Usually, it is the women who attend religious functions, while the men tend to hold back. Later, when President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, dedicated Chile and opened the way for full-time missionary work, he prophesied that men would come forward in great numbers. With my missionary companion, I had witnessed the beginnings of what President Kimball said would happen. It has happened, and the Church is gaining in strength because of it.”