The families of two missionaries who were shot to death in Peru are determined to continue the work of preaching the gospel and are encouraging others to do the same.
Members of both families attended missionary meetings held August 27–31 in Peru. They also met with visiting Church leaders.
The two elders, both natives of Peru, were killed 22 August 1990 in the outskirts of Huancayo, Peru. President Juan Angel Alvaradejo of the Peru Lima East Mission reported the shootings and identified the young men as Elder Manual Antonio Hidalgo, twenty-two, of Arequipa, Peru, and Elder Christian Andreani Ugarte, twenty-one, of Trujillo, Peru.
Elder Hidalgo, who had been serving since April, and Elder Ugarte, who was scheduled to complete his mission in September, were reportedly going to the home of members for lunch when gunmen alighted from a car and shot them. Police are investigating the incident.
“We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy,” said the First Presidency in a statement issued August 23. “We express our deepest sympathy to the parents and families of the two martyrs.
“Elder Hidalgo and Elder Ugarte were ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and they were sharing his message of love and brotherhood with their fellow citizens of Peru. They and their fellow missionaries are sent into the world solely to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and have no political agenda or association of any kind.
“We pray for an end to the hatred and misunderstanding which led to this tragedy.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled to Peru following the shootings. In meetings in Lima, Trujillo, and Arequipa, he met with most of Peru’s missionaries and stake presidents.
Accompanying Elder Ballard on the August 27–31 trip were Elder Angel Abrea of the Missionary Department and Elder Charles Didier and Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., of the South America North Area Presidency. The three men are also members of the Seventy.
“We extended the love of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and all of the other General Authorities,” explained Elder Ballard. “It was very positive and reassuring, not only to the missionaries, but also to the members of the Church.”
During the trip, mission and local Church leaders carefully reviewed every missionary area for safety, Elder Ballard noted. Missionary security procedures and guidelines were also reviewed.
“We are doing and will continue to do all within our power to reduce any risks that could harm the missionaries,” he continued. “However, in today’s world of violence, the Church cannot eliminate all risk nor guarantee absolutely that a missionary never will be ill or injured or harmed.
“We’re trying the best we know how to ensure the safety of all the missionaries, wherever they are laboring.”
The missionaries in Peru are eager to continue the work of spreading the gospel despite the incident. “They really want to go on working,” observed Elder Abrea. “They really have a testimony that the Lord will be with them.”
At one meeting, Elder Ugarte’s father, Justo Tito Ugarte, said that the Lord has brought peace to his family.
“He said he knew his son is doing the work of the Lord on the other side,” reported Elder Ballard. “He encouraged other missionaries not to fear and not to give up because of this unfortunate incident in the quest to take the gospel to the honest in heart in Peru.” Two other Ugarte children plan to serve missions in the near future.
The parents of Elder Hidalgo, Manuel Francisco Hidalgo and Virginia Pella de Hidalgo, were baptized just a few months ago. In a letter to President Benson, Brother Hidalgo expressed his testimony:
“With profound sadness we received word of the death of our son. … We know that this separation is temporary and that soon we will be reunited with him for all eternity. … Our Father in Heaven wanted to have [him] at his side to continue as a missionary preaching his gospel in the spirit world, and we understand that and feel joy and gladness that he is continuing his work.
“Moreover, nothing or no one can stop my wife and me—when the time comes—from being ready for a call from the Lord to follow our son’s example in going forward to preach the gospel.”