As a physician, Elder Jose Alonso utilized the most modern training, equipment and medicine available to treat his patients. But he learned early in his career that there are limits to his care. “It is God,” he said, “that knows how to cure.”
The recently called General Authority has long recognized he can be but an instrument in the Lord's hands in both his professional and ecclesiastical duties. Still, he finds joy in the service. His new appointment has left him humbled. "But I also have feelings of gratitude because it is a calling from God ... I know this call comes with His support and His guidance. It's a great blessing, a great responsibility and a great opportunity to serve."
Service has long defined Elder Alonso, 52, who was sustained during general conference on April 2 to the First Quorum of the Seventy. And he can spot the Lord's influence in many aspects of his life. When he was 15, he moved from Mexico City to live with his father, Luis Alonso, in the town of Cuautla. The senior Alonso was already a member of the Church.
"My father said a blessing on the food before eating and he also spoke my name and asked the Lord to bless me." For perhaps the first time, Jose Alonso felt the Spirit working in his heart. In a few weeks he was speaking to the missionaries, attending Church and enjoying the fellowship of new Latter-day Saint friends. He decided to be baptized "and found peace and support in the Church" that sustains him to this day.
His conversion was intrinsically linked to the Book of Mormon. The missionaries introduced this special gift during their first discussion. Their teenage investigator was immediately moved by the account of the resurrected Christ's visit to the Americas. "I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet."
Soon the tears flowed as he felt a certain confirmation that, indeed, the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was called of God. "All these things changed my life," said Elder Alonso.
Over the next few years, the young convert's testimony was strengthened by his fellow members. Through the local Mutual program he found a good friend in Rebeca Salazar, a lifelong member who embodied the unity found among the faithful Church members in Cuautla. Jose, Rebeca and the other youth relished the time they spent together, especially during the many Mutual activities that allowed them to serve many in need. Offering such service, he said, strengthened his heart and helped him grow. He developed a testimony that blessings come after he helps bless others.
He would have to draw upon that testimony when he turned 19 and faced the decision to serve a full-time mission. It was not an easy choice. At the time, Jose was enrolled in medical school and committed to the rigor of his studies. He wondered how a two-year break from medical school would impact his professional future. He prayed to know what he should do. While traveling on the subway he received an answer: withdraw from school and serve a mission. Soon the call came to the Mexico Hermosillo Mission and Jose swapped his medical texts for a set of scriptures and other missionary materials.
"It was a great decision," Elder Alonso told the Church News. Full-time missionary service offered him a singular experience to grow closer to God while teaching his fellow Mexicans. He learned that blessings follow obedience to the commandments and the mission rules. He found joy in forgetting about himself and focusing on the spiritual needs of others. He learned from the examples of dutiful companions.
"We didn't worry about the heat or the cold or other hardships; we only wanted to serve the people," he said.
Such devotion to serve — learned as a youth and fortified through missionary service — would serve Elder Alonso well throughout his life. At the completion of his mission, he returned to medical school and resumed his courtship of Rebeca Salazar, his Mutual friend. The two were married six months later in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Their trip to the United States marked an exercise in faith and sacrifice.
"It was difficult," said Sister Alonso. "We had few resources; my husband had just returned home from his mission and he was enrolled in school. We traveled by bus for 48 hours. But it was a marvelous experience."
Elder and Sister Alonso think back on those newlywed challenges traveling to the temple and marvel how things have changed. Today Mexico is dotted with 12 temples. Such growth, added Sister Alonso, "is a blessing — most LDS Mexicans can now go to the temple often."
The temple, added Elder Alonso, has helped teach him and his wife the principles of dedication and obedience. "To enter the temple is an opportunity to prepare to one day live in the presence of God."
Family time was a priority for the Alonsos, who have two children and several grandchildren. Despite the demands of his medical practice, Dr. Alonso was able to find the time he needed to enjoy his family and serve in the Church. When Elder Alonso was called to preside over the Mexico Tijuana Mission, the Alonsos found joy in their "companionship" and shared labor.
Now they prayerfully approach new opportunities to work and care for those in need. "We don't understand everything about this calling," said Sister Alonso, "but we are ready to serve."
Elder Alonso has humbly accepted his call to help care for the spiritual health of members worldwide. Blessings, he knows, will follow faith, service and obedience to the Lord and the leaders He has chosen. “There is security in following the prophets.”
Biographical information for Elder Alonso
Family: Born in Cuautla, Mexico, to Luis Juan Alonso Jimenez and Maria De la Luz Trejo Quiroz. Married Rebeca Salazar Ramirez on Feb. 24, 1981, in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Two sons: Luis Enrique (Aide) and Jorgeluis Eduardo (Claudia Yanette).
Education: Medical degree as a homeopathic physician and surgeon, 1986, Escuela Libre de Homeopatia de Mexico; degree in pediatric development, 1991, National Institute of Pediatrics.
Career: Homeopathic physician and surgeon.
Community service: Served in the Red Cross Emergency Unit and San Francisco Medical Clinic.
Church service: Full-time missionary, Mexico Hermosillo Mission, 1978-1980; bishop, mission president’s counselor, stake president, president of Mexico Tijuana Mission (2002-2005), Area Seventy, counselor in the Mexico North Area Presidency.