09687_000_015Stories of faith and inspiration from Latin American Latter-day Saints.
The Latter-day Saints on these pages shared their stories of conviction and belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ in a recent Church History Museum exhibit. Collectively they represent millions of Latin American Saints.
Twenty-four stories were on display in the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, through June 2011. The multimedia exhibit can still be viewed online at lds.org/churchhistory/museum/exhibits/mividamihistoria .
Carmen Echeverría Wood
Carmen was born into a religious family in Guatemala City, Guatemala. When she was nine years old, Latter-day Saint sister missionaries taught her family the gospel. She enjoyed attending Primary and spoke of a new feeling of happiness in her family. A year later the family was baptized. She says, “This was a wonderful, wonderful time.” She recalls President David O. McKay (1873–1970) visiting Guatemala in 1954 and teaching the children the principle of tithing. At age 17 she was called to serve in the Central American Mission and was grateful to share “the hope of a better life and being together forever.”
Miriam Puerta Amato
Miriam is a native of Brazil. When she wanted to serve a mission, she filled out the papers. Seven weeks later, with her family gathered at home, she read the letter calling her to the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission. She says, “When I read the letter, it was interesting that my family shouted the same way they do when the national football team of Brazil scores a goal. I was happy as well, and I knew that the Lord was sending me.”
Not long after Nelson was born in Asunción, Paraguay, his parents met the missionaries. “One day my dad was on the porch at home and saw Elder Higbee and Elder Johnson but did not know they were missionaries,” Brother Mousqués recalls. “He told my sister to bring out two chairs because, he said, ‘Those young men will change our lives.’ When the elders clapped at the door, he opened it and said, ‘Come in. We have been waiting for you.’ My father and the entire family joined the Church.”
Robin was raised in Ecuador in poverty, but he wanted to better himself. Once, while working at a plantation 12 hours a day, he prayed for guidance, and lightning flashed during his prayer. Robin saw this as God’s message that life held promise. “I knew that my feelings came from God,” Robin recalls. He came to know that through faith, he could change his life. At age 16 he left for work in Guayaquil, where he was baptized. Continuing inspiration led him to Brigham Young University, where he fulfilled his ambition of obtaining an education.
Ursula Binder Brock
Sister Brock remembers pondering the meaning of life when she was only five. When she was a teenager in Venezuela, the missionaries taught her and her family the gospel, and they were baptized. Filled with faith, she was called to be branch Primary president at age 16. Now, after a lifetime of service, she has come to realize that for her, “faith is a choice.” She explains, “I choose to make room for the Savior in my life. I have come to know that the Atonement is the most wonderful, selfless act of love for all humanity. My Savior and Redeemer, the Giver of peace, has become my very best friend—a constant for me.”
Lincoln lived with his family in Santiago, Chile, until his mother died when he was 10. Afterward, he lived with his aunt and uncle. When Lincoln was 18, Elder Barton and Elder Bentley came to his aunt and uncle’s home. Lincoln’s aunt and grandmother immediately accepted the gospel, but Lincoln avoided the missionaries. One Sunday morning, his normally gentle grandmother came to his room, ripped the quilt off his bed, and told him he was going to church with them. Shocked by his grandmother’s unusual behavior and out of respect for her, he got up and went to church. That day he felt something new and powerful within his soul that changed his life. He soon became one of the Church’s first converts in Chile.
Luis and Karla Hernández
Luis and Karla met as teenagers in Honduras. They began dating and soon married. Luis, not a member of the Church, admired Karla’s parents, who “treated each other with respect and love, and this made me want to learn about their values.” Soon Luis was baptized, and Karla and Luis were sealed in the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. In their early 30s, their relationship came under stress, and Karla left home, questioning whether their teenage marriage was a mistake. Luis fasted and prayed and asked God to “bring Karla back home, and He did it. He did it.” Today their marriage is stronger than ever.
Noemí Guzman de Abrea
Noemí was born in Argentina, where her family joined the Church. They immigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. While she loves being an American, she is most happy when she can experience the culture of Argentina. “In Latin America, people are very, very warm. They immediately bring you in; they befriend you; they fellowship you. They love to be with family and friends, to eat good food. That is wonderful, and experiencing that part of the culture is something I wouldn’t change for anything.”
In Uruguay on a rainy spring day in 1948, Omar’s mother offered her umbrella to two Latter-day Saint sister missionaries waiting for the bus. As a result, the missionaries started visiting the Canals family, and Omar’s older sister was later baptized. Born in 1948, Omar was the first baby blessed in the Uruguay Mission, which had opened in 1947. Omar and his parents were baptized when he was nine. A few years after Omar married his sweetheart, they immigrated to the United States. Already a broadcaster, Omar was hired by the Church in 1973 and became a Spanish interpreter for general conference.
Photographs by Mark J. Davis, Craig Dimond, Kent Miles, and Craig J. Law