Mormon leaders meet with El Salvador president

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20 2011 11:10 p.m. MDT

President Henry B. Eyring, center, with El Salvador President Mauricio Funes, left, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the presidential palace. The woman standing behind is a translator.

Jason Swensen

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — President Henry B. Eyring and several other LDS general authorities visited Saturday with the president of El Salvador to discuss their shared concern, hope and optimism for the people in this Central American nation.

President Eyring, first counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, is in El Salvador to preside Sunday over the dedication of the church's new San Salvador El Salvador Temple. Saturday's visit at the presidential palace with President Mauricio Funes marked the first time a member of the First Presidency has met with the nation's top leader.

"It was a wonderful experience," said President Eyring of the visit. "President Funes is a gracious, competent and kindly person who wants what is best for his people."

Salvadoran first lady Vanda Pignato also participated in the 45-minute visit that included discussion of the church's humanitarian efforts in the country and the Latter-day Saint tradition of service and self-reliance.

President Eyring was accompanied by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, along with Elders William R. Walker and Enrique R. Falabella of the Seventy. Elder Walker directs the church's temple department; Elder Falabella presides over the Central America Area.

A Salvadoran area Seventy, Elder Carlos Rivas, also participated.

President Eyring said he was impressed with the Salvadoran leader's respect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his desire to better the lives of his people.

"He talked mostly about lifting others and his concern for people who have been, in various ways, left behind," he added.

President Eyring also commented on the first lady's compassion and the humanitarian goals she and her husband share with the LDS Church.

"The president could sense (in our discussion) that we share many of the same things — both the hope and optimism for his people."

At the conclusion of their visit, President Eyring presented Funes with a bronze statue depicting Mormon pioneers walking alongside a covered wagon. He told the president that his own ancestors were part of that pioneer experience.

Elder Christofferson said President Eyring spoke of the church's capacity to bring hope by "helping people change in ways that give them greater potential as they go through their lives."

The visiting general authorities were expected to attend an LDS youths' cultural event Saturday evening that was produced in conjunction with the temple dedication.

The San Salvador temple is the church's first in the country.

email: jswensen@desnews.com

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