A prominent Honduran member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died last week after an attack by carjackers as he traveled to the LDS temple in Guatemala.
Salomon Jaar, 48, a Honduran government official and former LDS Area Authority Seventy, mission president, stake president and bishop, was driving with family and a friend on a highway from El Salvador to Guatemala City, Guatemala's Interior Ministry spokesman Nery Morales said.
Berta Lucia Bueso, Jaar's wife, said one of the robbers struck her husband in the stomach, causing him to vomit, which led to his death. An autopsy revealed that Jaar died of "asphyxiation by aspiration," Guatemalan officials said. Jaar suffered from a disease called myasthenia gravis and was in a weak condition, said his son-in-law, Jeremiah Robison, who lives in Utah.
"It was something very quick, it was microseconds and I wasn't hurt by the robbers," Bueso said last week during a press conference at the Honduran Embassy in Guatemala City. "They just asked that I cooperate. They took our jewelry and the little money we carried."
An elite unit of Guatemala's national police has been assigned to the case. Jaar was the presidential commissioner for southern Honduras and had a successful career in international business.
Jaar joined the LDS Church at 18 and served a church mission to Guatemala. He and his wife were the parents of four children. His son Salomon Jaar Jr. is currently serving an LDS mission in Concepcion, Chile. One of his daughters, Karenin Jaar Robison lives in Eagle Mountain. Another son, Juan, is attending Utah Valley University. Bueso and the couple's other daughter are preparing to move to Utah.
Juan Jaar said the family is at peace. "My dad was a good man so we don't have too much to worry about. He taught us the LDS principles and that have helped us through this."
Jaar Jr. wrote on a blog (www.salomonjaar.blogspot.com) that his father died protecting his mother and sister. "Dad," Jaar Jr. wrote, "I know you are serving a mission with me right now. It's an honor to have you with me constantly. I promise you I will do my best."
Jaar's funeral was well-attended in Honduras over the weekend. "He was leading a great cause in fighting corruption in Choluteca," Robison said. "So many loved and respected him."
Jaar served as mission president of the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission from 1993 to 1996. Following his mission he was called as an Area Authority Seventy until October 2000. He also served as a Church Educational System coordinator.
Gina Olsen Shelley, who served in the Tegucigalpa mission from January 1995 to June 1996, was shocked, stunned and heartbroken to learn of Jaar's death.
"You question why things like this happen even though you know everything has a reason and purpose," Shelley said. "I wish something could be done about the violence. Things like this shouldn't happen. People need to feel safe. … To watch your husband get beaten up right in front of you … "
Shelley described Jaar as authoritative yet gentle, humble and soft-spoken. He encouraged the missionaries to work a hard, full days, even occasionally sacrificing dinner appointments in favor of more teaching opportunities.
"He had such a tender spirit and an ability to look into your eyes and empathize," Shelley said. "In interviews, he was never in a hurry and you felt he was really concerned. He had great listening skills and helped resolve problems.
"He was like a father to his missionaries."
Trevor Walton served under Pres. Jaar from 1993 to 1995, including four months as his assistant. He said former missionaries called each other when the news broke last week.
"He had great influence on my life and he was working to do a lot of good for the country down there," Walton said. "Clearly, as any returned missionary would say, my mission was the best two years. I grew and learned a tremendous amount, and he was a big part of the reason why."
Walton said one of Jaar's dreams was to see a temple built in Tegucigalpa. Not only did he encourage the missionaries to work hard to increase church membership to qualify for a temple, but he was also instrumental in helping the church secure a proper location. Construction started on the temple foundation in March.
"It's sad. Getting a temple in Honduras has been one of his big goals and he is not going to be able to see it come to light," Walton said.
"Helping with the temple might have been his last big mission in this life," Juan said.
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