Area Authority in Bolivia

Elder Mario Guzmán Padilla, Area Authority Seventy for the South America North Area, remembers being the last member of his family to accept the gospel in 1976, when he and his wife, Maria Graciela Antezana de Guzmán, were hearing missionary lessons. “When I joined the Church,” he says, “I had the advantage of receiving what the prophet today refers to as a friend, a responsibility, and being nourished by the word. I was baptized on Saturday, and on Sunday they called me to be a Sunday School teacher.” Those first few weeks were a challenge, but Elder Guzmán says that this responsibility helped him develop a testimony of the gospel.

After joining the Church, he was anxious to share the gospel with his coworkers. He carried his own filmstrip projector to work and showed filmstrips in his office, among them Man’s Search for Happiness, Johnny Lingo, and Families Can Be Forever. As a result of these early missionary efforts, three of his friends at work joined the Church. Elder Guzmán has since retired from Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano Airlines, where he concluded his career as chief of operations.

In addition to sharing the gospel message with coworkers and friends, the Guzmáns, after their baptisms, immediately began preparing to attend the temple. And one year later, they traveled to Los Angeles to be sealed in the temple on 30 April 1977. Elder and Sister Guzmán have one son and three daughters.

About two years after joining the Church, a directive from the president of Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano came out saying that all executives had to work on Sundays. “This regulation affected my religious principles,” says Elder Guzmán, “so I went to the office of the president and told him, ‘I can work until 11:45 on Saturday night, but I can’t work on Sunday. If this is not possible, you will have to do as you think best.’” The president told him they would have to let him go. Several hours later, however, the president reconsidered, and Elder Guzmán became the only executive there who did not work on Sundays.

“There is no work more wonderful or better compensated for than that of being in the service of our God and of our neighbors,” says Elder Guzmán. He credits his wife for much of the spiritual strength in their family: “My Heavenly Father has blessed me with an extraordinary companion, and as a result of her selflessness we have wonderful children who live the gospel.”

Standing for Truth

Not only are Terry and Susanne Rooney faithful members of the Bradford Second Ward, Leeds England Stake, they are also strong members of their community. While serving as first counselor in the bishopric, Brother Terry Rooney also serves as the first and only LDS member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament. Now in his third term in the House of Commons, Brother Rooney is highly respected by his colleagues and constituents for his integrity and unwavering sense of ethics.

“That’s Terry’s big plus,” says his wife, Susanne. “People respect him because they know he is not going to be corruptible or bendable; he is always going to stand up for what he believes in. I think that’s Terry’s big strength, and I think that’s the gospel in action.”

“You do things because they’re right,” Terry says in response. “It’s not necessarily a conscious action, it’s just a natural consequence. It’s really an extension of the idea that what you are dictates what you do, not the other way around.”

Since 1996, Sister Rooney, who teaches the Gospel Doctrine class in her ward, has served on the Bradford and District Metropolitan Council, the fourth largest municipal council in the U.K., and currently functions as vice chair of education. In two recent school-review votes, she championed the idea of keeping Christian values in the school curriculum, an idea that seemed contrary to popular trends. “But in the end,” she says, “when the votes were in, we won handsomely both times because people understood that we stood for something that was right.”

With all these responsibilities, both Terry and Susanne agree that the most important things in their lives are the gospel of Jesus Christ and their family. They have three children, Adele, Elisabeth, and Peter, and five grandchildren. “For us, that’s what it’s all about,” says Susanne, “to rejoice in the gospel here and to return with our family to our Heavenly Father and feel that joy of reunion.”

With “Patience of Hope”

Writing to the members in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul said, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:2–3).

Today, one of those laboring with love and patience of hope is 76-year-old Vartoui (Roza) Dimopoulou, a member of the Thessaloniki Branch in the Greece Athens Mission. Sister Dimopoulou, or Roza as she is known by the members and missionaries, remembers how she was hesitant to be baptized when first hearing the missionary discussions. She kept telling the missionaries she had already been baptized at birth. Finally, however, she accepted a challenge to pray about the matter.

Roza recalls going to her room, kneeling, and praying as she had been taught by the missionaries. Her answer came quickly and clearly and included a dream that helped guide her to accept baptism on 31 January 1993.

From that day on, Roza has shown her devotion to the Lord’s Church—the only one, she says, where she can feel the Savior near. Her husband died several years after her baptism, and the Sunday of his funeral is the only day she has missed her Church meetings in six years. Members of the Thessaloniki Branch can count on seeing Roza every Sunday dressed all in black—in accordance with Greek custom for widows—sitting in the same seat in the chapel, “her seat” as she calls it.

Roza still works every day except Sunday until 6 P.M. as a cleaning maid for a family. With her modest income and small retirement pay, she supports her daughter and granddaughter and has managed to save enough money to make two trips to the London Temple, once to be sealed to her deceased husband. As her health is poor, it is not uncommon to hear her say on Sundays, “When I woke up this morning I had not enough strength to get out of bed. But I prayed to Heavenly Father for Him to please allow me to go to the meetings of His Church, and He gave me the strength to come.”—Elder James Max Adams, Greece Athens Mission

[photo] Roza Dimopoulou celebrates her 76th birthday surrounded by missionaries and some members of the Thessaloniki Branch in Greece.

In the Spotlight

  • Two returned missionaries hold top elected positions in Arizona State University’s student government. Paul Frost, a humanities major from the Tempe University Fourth Ward, Tempe West Stake, serves as president, and Paul Petersen, a journalism major from the Mesa 28th Ward, Mesa Arizona North Stake, serves as executive vice president of Associated Students of ASU. Both young men independently decided to run for a seat in student government after serving in the student senate.

  • Don R. Baker, Ph.D., was recently presented the International Award for Research in Agrochemicals from the Agrochemicals Division of the American Chemical Society. Brother Baker, a member of the Moraga Ward, Oakland California Stake, received the award in recognition of his 40 years of service in the chemical industry, where he developed more than 10,000 novel compounds, resulting in a record 202 U.S. patents in applications related to chemicals and agriculture.