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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

President Cartes, who was approaching his first 100 days in office, noted his connection with the church in improving the lives of the Paraguayan people through service and self-reliance.

“Everything is interrelated,” he said. “I am working on finding more jobs for my people and you are teaching them how to obtain one.”

President Cartes spoke of his admiration for the humanitarian work the church performs in his nation, often done in cooperation with local service organizations. He noted the efforts of the LDS Employment Resource Services in offering workshops about finding job and opening small businesses. The president also offered thanks for the church's involvement in the Instituto Nacional de Cancer where Latter-day Saint doctors have trained local medical professionals and the church has provided medical equipment. This undertaking was initiated following Elder David A. Bednar’s visit with the former President of Paraguay a year ago.

Elder Christofferson also presented President Cartes with a “Family Ties” statue that portrays a family reading the scriptures together. The apostle said he was confident the family was reading verses from the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

The Paraguayan leader appropriately placed the family-themed statue in the family room of the president’s official residence.

The president spoke of his own appreciation for the scriptures. “I read a Psalm every morning before starting my day,” he said. “I have confidence in doing that and in praying to the Lord.”

President Cartes then made a simple yet heartfelt request: “Please pray for me.” Elder Christofferson responded, “We do and we will.”

All who attended the meeting noted a feeling of brotherhood between President Cartes and the visiting church leaders, who left hopeful for strengthened relations and further opportunities to help and serve the Paraguayan people.

While in Paraguay, Elder Christofferson also called on Monsignor Pastor Cuquejo, Catholic Archbishop of Asunción. The two religious leaders met in Monsignor Cuquejo’s office in Asunción.

During the 30-minute meeting, the two men spoke of their common, faith-based interests, along with shared humanitarian projects between LDS Humanitarian Services and the Catholic charitable organization “Pastoral Social,” including a project to provide wheelchairs to disabled people in Paraguay.

The monsignor also announced, with a smile, that he was a fan of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Elder Christofferson presented the monsignor with a replica statue of the “Christus” Elder González, along with Elder Nicolas L. Di Giovanni, an Area Seventy, and Brother Gustavo Galeano also participated in the visit.

jswensen@desnews.com

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