LDS apostles return to southern South America to visit Mormon members, missionaries and political leaders

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4 2013 11:00 a.m. MST

Elder D. Todd Christofferson discusses the Church's humanitarian efforts in Paraguay with Monsignor Pastor Cuquejo, Catholic Archbishop of Asuncion.

Fernando Florentin, MACRO

A recent apostolic trip to the southern nations of South America demonstrated the growing ties between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the leaders of many Latin American governments — even as the church continues to develop in both membership and devotion. On Nov. 14-15, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, both members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, together with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy, participated in a review of the South America South Area. Several training meetings highlighted their tour with priesthood leaders, members and missionaries — along with cordial visits with civic and religious leaders in Chile and Paraguay.

Just over a year ago the Chile Area and the South America South Area were consolidated into a single area consisting of four countries — Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Elder Christofferson told the Church News that the dedicated members and church employees in the area “have made that [consolidation] a success.”

During their tour, the visiting Brethren were able to meet with tens of thousands of members, both in person and via live Internet broadcasts of various meetings.

One highlight was an area-wide meeting for married couples. The event was staged in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and broadcast to meetinghouses across the South America South Area. More than 35,600 people participated.

Speakers at the meeting included Elder Christofferson and his wife, Sister Katherine Christofferson, along with Elder Soares and Sister Rosana Soares.

Elder Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, concluded the meeting, sharing the podium for a special question-and-answer session. The Hollands responded to a variety of queries that had been submitted prior to the meeting by members from across the area. Their candid answers covered a wide range of issues facing couples and families that included counsel on balancing family, work and church responsibilities and a discussion on helping children who have strayed from church activity.

Their tender counsel “brought a lot of tears and smiles,” said Elder Christofferson. “The people were wonderfully edified.”

In his remarks, Elder Christofferson said husbands and wives must first build strong, personal relationships with their Heavenly Father. A strong marital relationship will follow.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he added, prayerfully comes to unanimous decisions on key matters. “It ought to be the same in our marriages.”

The Brethren also presided over several missionary meetings that included some 2,500 full-time missionaries. Leadership meetings were also conducted in the Chilean cities of Concepcion and Santiago, along with Buenos Aires and the coastal city of Mar del Plata in Argentina.

A meeting was also held for church employees. The meeting originated in Buenos Aires and was transmitted to various offices across the South America South Area. Technology allowed the Brethren to see audience members viewing the broadcast in another city or country.

“We have a very talented and dedicated group of employees in the area,” Elder Christofferson noted.

Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson are not strangers to South America. Elder Holland presided over the Chile Area from 2002-2004, where his love for the Chilean people and culture grew deeply. When his assignment ended he left the country having made many lifelong friends both in and outside of the church.

Elder Christofferson developed a lifelong affection for the region while serving a full-time mission in Argentina from 1964-1966.

Meanwhile, the South America South Area Presidency are all sons of South America. Area President Elder Walter F. Gonzalez and his second counselor, Elder Francisco J. Vinas are Uruguayan. First counselor Elder Jorge F. Zeballos is from Chile.

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