President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with members and dignitaries in Guatemala as he embarked Saturday on his nine-day ministry in Latin America. The first stop on his five-country ministry was Guatemala City, the country’s capital, known for its ancient Mayan history and nearby volcanos.
“Many happy memories come to my mind here in Guatemala,” President Nelson said to hundreds of Latter-day Saints gathered for an evening devotional at the Estadio Cementos Progreso, an outdoor stadium in Guatemala City. He has visited the country eight other times, including a visit to this same stadium with President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) in 1997 and a stop in 1991 with Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–1994), who dedicated Guatemala for the blessings of the gospel of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
After 90 seconds of introductory remarks in English through an interpreter, President Nelson then spoke for 15 minutes in Spanish. Translations of President Nelson’s remarks are forthcoming.
The prophet is traveling with his wife, Wendy, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary.
Earlier at the devotional, Elder Cook spoke in English about how the families of Guatemala can be blessed by building Zion (a state of oneness and unity) in heart and home, being a good example in the community, and focusing one’s vision and goals on worshiping in one of the faith’s temples.
“Be an example in your community. Be a light on a hill. Don’t be in camouflage,” Elder Cook said. “You probably think I’m talking about missionary work — and yes, that is important. But I’m more concerned about being an example at work and in the community and at school.”
Drawing on his experience as a local Church leader in San Francisco, Elder Cook said he learned that those Latter-day Saints who lived their faith openly “had additional protections. Their coworkers were even determined to see that no one would offer them an alcoholic drink. They were not expected to join the parties and unrighteous associations that sometimes lead to terrible consequences. Children are usually protected if people know what they believe. My emphasis is on not being in camouflage so you can be protected. But obviously you can also be more effective missionaries if people know who you are.”
President Nelson will travel to Bogota, Colombia, on Sunday, where members will gather in Movistar Arena to hear words of inspiration from the senior leaders.
President Nelson’s first assignment to the country was in 1989 while serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Three Church presidents have traveled to the country, including Gordon B. Hinckley, Spencer W. Kimball and David O. McKay, who was there in 1954.