Elder Oaks dedicates Mexico City Missionary Training Center

By Barbara Morgan

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 8:40 a.m. MST

Missionaries training at the recently opened Mexico City MTC walk in a group to the MTC's Feb. 9 dedication ceremony.

Barbara Morgan

MEXICO CITY — Greeted by enthusiastic missionaries preparing to serve in North, Central and South America, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Mexico City Missionary Training Center on Feb. 9.

He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric and by the Mexico Area Presidency, Elder Daniel L. Johnson and his counselors, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela.

While awaiting the arrival of Elder Oaks, Elder Elijah Darrel Blake, from St. George Utah, called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta (Spanish-speaking) Mission said, “Not only is a prophet of God coming to dedicate the MTC today, but it’s also a personal reminder that all of us as missionaries have dedicated ourselves and have been set apart to serve the Lord.”

Conducted by MTC President Carl. P. Pratt, and presided over by Elder Oaks, the dedicatory program commenced with mission presidents serving throughout Mexico with their wives, Area Seventies and their wives, the Mexico MTC Presidency and their wives, the Mexico Area Presidency and their wives along with branch presidencies and more than 400 missionaries, standing and singing together, a resounding “Called to Serve.” The opening prayer was offered by Elder Ashton Plummer of Orem, Utah, assigned to the New Jersey Morristown (Spanish-speaking) Mission.

Following a brief video recounting the 50-year history of the church high school Benemerito de las Americas and its recent transition into the MTC, Elder Daniel Johnson of the Seventy and president of the Mexico Area, reflected on highlights of the school’s past. He praised the sacrifice and maturity of the Mexican Saints who built, studied, taught and worked there.

He referred to the occasion almost precisely a year ago when he, in company with Elder Russell M. Nelson and Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, announced the transition from a school into a missionary training center. With great feeling, he said, “Although there were tears shed upon hearing this announcement, these were not tears of sadness or anger, but rather, tears of joy.” He explained that although this campus was now being dedicated as a missionary training center and would become more sacred as a result, “it was already a sacred place.” He then encouraged the missionaries to follow the example of their predecessors on that campus by studying hard, learning the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and dedicating themselves to the Lord.

Bishop Davies challenged the missionaries to “Open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing” (Doctrine and Covenants 28:16).

Elder Christensen said he was sure that there were more prayers being offered per square meter at this MTC than any other place in Mexico, and perhaps in the world. He reminded the missionaries of the foreknowledge of God and their important role in the hastening of the work. “You are living in a time when we are united as members of the church and are focused on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all of the children of our Heavenly Father.”

Elder Oaks testified of the “inspired decision to close Benemerito and devote this facility to a missionary training center.” He assured, “With this step Mexico takes its place as a nation among nations in the hastening of the work of salvation in the whole of North and South America.”

Directing his comments to all missionaries and leaders, both in the MTC and throughout all of Mexico, he admonished the use of Preach My Gospel, explaining that although it might be more difficult to teach after its prescribed manner, it was more effective because it “provides for teaching that is individualized for the needs of each investigator.” He acknowledged, “You are younger now and you are required to do more and you are equal to that task.”

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