At first it was very hard for the missionaries to preach the gospel in Mexico for the people were controlled by the dominant church. And when the priests told them not to listen to the Mormon missionaries, most of the Mexican people did not dare to disobey.
About the time the Mexico Mission was established, the poor people of Mexico rose up against their rulers to demand their rights as Mexican citizens. A revolutionary war that lasted for many years made it unsafe for missionaries to be in Mexico.
On three different occasions, the missionaries were withdrawn from that mission. Each time they returned to Mexico they found that the members were more faithful than before and that more of the people were prepared to receive the gospel.
Once when the missionaries were withdrawn from Mexico, a man named Rafael Monroy called on the mission president, Rey L. Pratt,* to say goodbye.
“President Pratt,” Brother Monroy asked, “what will we do in San Marcos? All of the branches have leaders except San Marcos. No one there has the Melchizedek Priesthood.”
“Brother Rafael,” the president answered, “we will ordain you an elder and set you apart as president of the San Marcos Branch. There you will be responsible to teach the gospel to every member of your little branch.”
President Monroy not only taught the members of his branch, but he also taught his nonmember neighbors and friends. During the time the missionaries were not allowed in Mexico, the San Marcos Branch doubled in number of members. Rafael Monroy eventually was shot and killed because he would not deny the gospel.
When the mission was reopened, thirty members of the small branch at Cuantla were waiting at the train station to greet the missionaries when they returned. Twelve children and some young adults began singing songs of welcome. Afterward they shouted, “Qué viven los misioneros!” (long live the missionaries), as they showered the elders with confetti.
The missionaries were then taken to a home that had been decorated with beautiful flowers and cedar boughs in honor of this special occasion. Following a delicious dinner, a meeting was held.
President Pratt in his report to the brethren in Salt Lake told of the joy of the people in welcoming the missionaries. Even the children had planned for a program during the evening. President Pratt said, “It was wonderful to note the progress of the children of the branch along lines of study upon which they had been started by the missionaries. Little tots that were babies in arms when the missionaries left got up and recited one or more of the Articles of Faith.”
Nor was this the only group that had been active. The Church members in the little branch of San Pedro were proud to show the missionaries a meetinghouse they had built. President Pratt described it as “a humble house where the Spirit of the Lord can dwell.” He said, “Only those who have experienced it can know the joy of meeting these dear people after so long an absence. Their faithfulness through seven long years, during which time they have passed through untold suffering, is wonderful.”
At the time Mexico was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel, it was prophesied that the time would come when there would be thousands of missionaries there. This prophecy has literally been fulfilled.
On August 25, 26, and 27 a three-day area conference will be held by the General Authorities of the Church in the National Auditorium at Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. This conference in Mexico will include many of the more than 100,000 Spanish-speaking members of the Church in Mexico and Central America.