Temple Square abloom for LDS general conference

Spanish is second-most popular language for translations

Published: Saturday, March 31 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

It was just a little more than 50 years ago — Dec. 3, 1961 — that the first Spanish-speaking stake of the church was created in Mexico City. At that time, there were about 25,000 members of the church in Mexico. Today, church membership in Mexico numbers more than 1.2 million, with some 2,009 congregations and 12 temples.

Similarly startling growth has taken place in other Spanish-speaking countries. In 1974, there were about 620 Latter-day Saints in Spain worshipping in 17 congregations. Today there are more than 47,000 Spanish saints in 133 LDS congregations.

The Chilean Mission was organized in 1961, with a little more than 1,000 members living in the country. Today there are more than a half-million Mormons in Chile, with 620 congregations and a temple. And in Argentina, church membership has grown from 40,000 members in 1978 to nearly 400,000 today.

When the Mexico City Temple was remodeled in 2008, Florencio Hernandez Vigueras of Pachuca, Hidalgo, was one of comparatively few Latter-day Saints who remembered when there weren't so many Mormons in Mexico.

"When I was baptized in 1944, there were about 100 members in my congregation," he said. "My family and I were part of the first stake organized in Mexico, and now there are three stakes in that same geographic area, or nearly 10,000 members. It's a wonderful thing to see how the church has grown all these years."

Part of that growth is due to the large number of missionaries who have worked successfully in Spanish-speaking countries. But part of it is also due to the faithfulness of members who have raised families in the church.

Eulogia Diaz de Sanchez, for example, was baptized in Paraguay in 1960. Despite intense pressure from her local minister to renounce her baptism, she worked to bring her mother and a daughter into the church the following month, and her husband followed the next year. Today there are more than 60 Sanchez descendants who are LDS, not to mention dozens of others who have joined the church through the family's missionary efforts.

Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints, as well as those who speak the other 92 languages into which conference sessions are translated, are among those to whom Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve was speaking last April when he said, "We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue and people that God not only lives but also that he speaks, that for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard is, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, 'the will of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation'" (Doctrine & Covenants 68: 4).

In Spanish, or otherwise.

email: jwalker@desnews.com

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