SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
For the first time since the Dominican Republic was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel 30 years ago, a president of this country visited leaders and members of the Church.
President Leonel Fernandez Reyna was welcomed by the Caribbean Area presidency, Elders Clate W. Mask, Daniel L Johnson, and Miguel A. Lee on May 8.
Some 1,500 Church members attended. Chairs and an awning with flowers beautifully landscaping the area were set up on the temple grounds by the city government. During an introductory meeting the area presidency explained the purpose and importance of the temple to the head of state.
Later, during his remarks to Church members gathered on the temple grounds, President Fernandez stated, "No human being can progress contrary to the will of Almighty God, and I believe that in that way, we share common values and opinions."
President Fernandez recalled that in his youth, he would see missionaries on bicycles and wonder who they were. Finally, someone told him that they were young missionaries from Utah preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Since those days, I have had a profound admiration for those missionaries who left their homes and came such a long way to preach the word of God," he said. "To realize that there are now Dominican missionaries to do that work seems to me to be a great contribution to something that is fundamental in the doctrine of the gospel that you promote and that we share."
As the presidential party was preparing to leave, President Fernandez turned to President Mask and as they embraced, he said, "You have a new friend in the Dominican Republic."
Elder Mask noted that the coat of arms in the middle of the Dominican Republic flag consists of an open Bible with three words above it; God, Country, Freedom.
"We believe in God our Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ," he said. "He is our Savior and our Redeemer." Elder Mask then presented a replica of the statue "Christus" and a beautifully framed copy of the "The Family — a Proclamation to the World" to President Fernandez as tokens of friendship.