Making Friends:

Hugo Lopez of Buenos Aires, Argentina

By DeAnne Walker

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    When you think of Argentina, you might picture cattle ranches and cowboys. But Hugo Lopez lives in the city. He lives in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina—one of the largest cities in South America. Hugo is a member of the Palermo Ward, Buenos Aires Argentina Belgrano Stake, which covers a large section of downtown Buenos Aires. This means that his home, his school, and his ward meetinghouse are all located among the skyscrapers and busy traffic of this city of nearly 14,000,000 people.

    Hugo, age 10, was born in Buenos Aires, but he also lived in Santiago, Chile, for two years. He is the youngest child in the family and has an older brother and sister. His sister is married and has two children. Hugo is very proud to be an uncle so young!

    Hugo is in the fifth grade. He walks to his school, which is not too far from his apartment. From the street, the school looks like many of the other big buildings in the city, but hidden behind the tall double doors are classrooms that fill two stories and surround an outdoor courtyard and recreation area in the center of the building. When school is dismissed each day, hundreds of students with uniform white jackets swarm through the halls and out into the street. It is sometimes difficult to tell the teachers from the students, as they also wear the same white-jacket uniforms.

    Because he wants to be a good student, Hugo works very hard at his schoolwork, and his studies keep him busy every day. He tries very hard to do the things he knows are right and to be a good example. He is the only member of the Church in his school, and he has learned it can be difficult to be the only one in a group who wants to choose the right. When his friends use bad language, for example, Hugo tries to show them a better way to talk. “It makes me feel sad when they won’t listen,” he says, “but I still try to choose the right way.”

    Each week, Hugo looks forward to Wednesday and Friday afternoons. “After school on these days, I go to the Conservatorio de Música, a special music school,” Hugo says. “I am learning to play the flute, and I sing in the choir!” His eyes sparkle with excitement when he talks about music and what he is learning at the music school. He will study the flute for two years, and if he studies seven more years, he can become a teacher. Or he may specialize in a mechanics course in high school so he can earn money to fulfill his dream of going on a mission.

    Actually, Hugo is working very hard right now to prepare for a mission. Bishop Sergio Lohrmann, of the Palermo Ward, says: “Hugo has a great knowledge of the gospel. He bears his testimony every month—and when he does, it strengthens the testimonies of the members of our ward as he tells of his love for Jesus Christ and for the gospel.”

    When Hugo bears his testimony, he always thanks his mother and the teachers who have taught him to come to church, where he can learn. And he tells of a special prayer in his heart that his father will someday listen to the missionaries and come to church, where he can feel the love of all the ward members. Hugo feels very sad that his father and his brother are not interested in learning about the Church right now. He says: “My brother thinks that coming to church is a waste of time. But it’s not a waste of time—it is gaining eternal life!”

    Hugo tries to set a good example at home, as well as at school. “I have a good relationship with my Dad. I know he has very sensitive feelings, and I try not to do anything to make him feel left out,” he says. “We sometimes go on walks together and just talk—these are our special times together.”

    And, as a good missionary should, Hugo studies his scriptures. When asked about his favorite scripture, Hugo quickly turns to Joseph Smith—History 1:52–53 [JS—H 1:52–53] and begins reading aloud about the Prophet Joseph’s first experience seeing the gold plates. “I love the Joseph Smith story,” he says when he completes those verses. But one look at the pages of his scriptures shows that this is only one of his favorites. His scriptures look like a missionary’s—many important verses are marked clearly in bright colors, and he knows them well.

    Each day brings opportunities for Hugo to be a missionary. Whether he is studying his scriptures, setting a good example for his friends at school, or going on long walks with his father, he tries to always do and say the things he has been taught.

    So each Sunday, Hugo and his mother will walk again through the busy streets of Buenos Aires to attend their Church meetings and to learn more about the gospel. And—if it happens to be a fast Sunday—Hugo will bear his testimony!

    Photography by DeAnne Walker

    Top: During a class break, Hugo and his teacher model their school uniforms. Above: Hugo enjoys being with his friends in Primary.

    Above: Hugo loves studying the scriptures and preparing for the day when he will be a full-time missionary. Below: His mother encourages Hugo to do what is right.