To the Ends of the Earth

By Richard M. Romney

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    “God … looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven” (Job 28:23–24).

    Go to Argentina. Then head south. Keep going. Keep going. When you run out of land at the Strait of Magellan, cross the water to the island of Tierra del Fuego. Keep going. When you get to the far side of the island, stop. Now you’re at Ushuaia, which is billed as the southernmost city in the world. It’s so far south that residents commonly refer to it as “the end of the world.”

    This place of glaciers, where jagged mountains plunge to the sea, has pleasant, lengthy days for two or three months each year. The rest of the year is cold, stormy, and dark.

    Ushuaia is probably not the first location you think of as a home for young Latter-day Saints. But the Church is alive—and thriving—here. And Latter-day Saint youth in Ushuaia know they are part of the fulfillment of prophecy, that the gospel shall “roll forth unto the ends of the earth” (D&C 65:2).

    Finding Her Mother a Husband

    Consider the story of Ximena Martínez. A few years ago, Ximena, her sister Micaela, and her brother Gonzalo were living with their divorced mother in Buenos Aires. Ximena was 15 at the time. She had been assigned the responsibility of taking care of the yard. “But I had neglected it,” she explains. “Daniel Garrido, a nice neighbor who lived across the street, offered to help. A few days later he came, accompanied by full-time missionaries. They worked hard and made everything look beautiful. But this was only the beginning. Daniel and his wife, Elisabet, continued to be faithful friends, and the missionaries offered to teach us about the Restoration of the gospel. How could we say no?”

    That was the beginning of a journey to understanding. After studying with the missionaries, Ximena’s mother was baptized. The children soon followed her example. “I decided to change my life, to have the kind of freedom only Christ can give,” Ximena continues. “More and more, I wanted to live the gospel. But there was something missing—we needed a father, and we wanted to be sealed in the temple.

    “One day at a Church dance, I talked to a friend named Martín Morresi. He mentioned that his father was a widower. Jokingly I said, ‘Well, my mother needs a husband! We ought to get them to meet.’ We had only one problem—his father lived 2,000 miles [3,200 kilometers] away.

    “I began to tease my mother that I had found a husband for her. Then, at a stake choir rehearsal, Martín told me, ‘My father is coming to visit Buenos Aires, and he wants to have dinner with your mother!’ I was stunned, but I won’t even tell you my mother’s reaction. However, she accepted. Martín accompanied his father, Rubén, and I accompanied my mother, Susana, and we had a wonderful evening. Rubén Morresi was attentive and respectful. I could see he was upright and faithful, a man of God.”

    Three and a half months later, Rubén and Susana were married in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple. Ximena, Micaela, and Gonzalo Martínez were sealed to them and moved with them to Ushuaia, where they joined Manuel and Micaela Morresi as new brothers and sisters. (Three older children live away from home.)

    “Now I live at the end of the world,” says Ximena. “I am working with all my might to help Zion to grow here. I know the Lord’s kingdom will extend to the four corners of the earth, and this is why He has guided us to one of them.”

    Caring Means Sharing

    Talk to other youth in Ushuaia, and you’ll find they also have a deep love for the Church and the blessings it brings them. Boris Zapata, age 12, says the gospel has taught him, as Moroni said, to “hope for a better world” (Ether 12:4). Juan Frau, age 16, talks about his appreciation for seminary. “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to study the scriptures every day,” he says.

    “I had the opportunity to share the gospel with one of my school friends, Elena Ayala,” says Micaela Martínez, age 18. “When she was baptized, it filled me with happiness. If we know that Jesus Christ lives, it is beautiful to share our feelings with others.”

    Here at the end of the earth, the youth of Ushuaia have received the great light of the gospel. They gladly share it with each other and with anyone else who will receive it.

    A Great Joy in My Heart

    In an area as isolated as Ushuaia, life can seem lonely. Some young people turn to drinking, drugs, or immoral behavior and eventually end up in despair. Latter-day Saint youth have found happiness in following the guidance of their Father in Heaven. Listen to three members of the Quiroga family, who were baptized two years ago:

    “Being a member of the Church makes me very happy,” says Matías, age 14. “I feel deep inside me that I really am in the true Church, that Heavenly Father helps me at every moment. I have learned a great deal as a new member. My teachers have taught me a lot, and the members have been very kind.”

    His 18-year-old sister, Patricia, agrees. “Being a Latter-day Saint has changed my life in every aspect,” she says. “I have always had faith in God, but I never felt His presence like I do in the Church. I love being in Young Women and working on my Personal Progress.”

    “Before I was baptized, I asked in prayer if I was doing the right thing,” says 16-year-old Paola. “I felt a great joy in my heart. After that, I was baptized and felt the Spirit dwelling inside me. I know this is the true Church. I do not doubt it. I feel happy when I do what is right.”

    A Ray of Light

    The Morresi, Martínez, and Quiroga families aren’t the only ones in Ushuaia with multiple teenagers. The Cabanillas family has four teens, and their testimonies are strong.

    “I have been a member of the Church since I was eight,” says Florencia Cabanillas, age 14. “I know that Jesus Christ lives and that the scriptures are the word of God. I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I am very happy to have the gospel in my life and to achieve our goal as a family to be sealed in the temple.”

    “I know that we have a prophet, seer, and revelator today and that he receives revelation from God,” says Andrea, age 15. “I know the Book of Mormon is a miracle, translated during difficult times. Joseph Smith prayed with great faith and received answers.”

    “Not long ago, I had the opportunity to teach about the Book of Mormon in Sunday School,” says Estefania, age 17. “I had to search the scriptures, and as I did, I imagined myself there. I will never forget how Mormon felt as he saw the destruction of the Nephites. I will not forget the testimonies of the prophets. If you have not searched the scriptures, I recommend you start today!”

    Sabrina, age 18, remembers the sister missionaries coming to home evening when she was 10. “They taught me simply but firmly that God reveals truth through prayer,” she says. “They said I needed to kneel down and ask Heavenly Father in humility to give me a testimony. ‘Me kneel down?’ I thought to myself. A few days later, Mom wanted to go for a walk with my sisters and me. Even though the sun was shining and I wanted to go with them, something stopped me. I knew it was the perfect time to pray. I knelt down in the dining room. I pleaded with Heavenly Father to let me know if the Book of Mormon was true. I asked Him if the principles I was taught in church were true. Five minutes went by. After I ended my prayer I remained on my knees. Suddenly a ray of light illuminated my face. I could not understand this, because the house was dark. But there was a small window in the kitchen without a curtain, and the light was coming from there.

    “I felt so happy. I realized my Father had answered my prayer in this way. Now I have a testimony of all these things, and I know they are true. I know prayer has tremendous power.”

    Photographs by Richard M. Romney

    The common bond of the gospel brought Susana Martínez and Rubén Morresi and their families (above) together in a loving blend, including (below, from left) Ximena, Micaela, and Gonzalo Martínez and Manuel and Micaela Morresi.

    Matías, Patricia, and Paola Quiroga (below, from left) have found happiness in the Church while many of their peers in their isolated town have turned to drugs and other destructive behaviors.

    Florencia, Andrea, Estefania, and Sabrina Cabanillas, as well as Boris Zapata and Juan Frau (below, from left) are also part of the Latter-day Saint youth group in Ushuaia (left). Their unity shelters them in their town at the ends of the earth.