Mormon apostle’s visit requested by Peruvian president

From left, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and Elder Carlos A. Godoy meet together in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 11. 2017. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

LIMA, Peru

It’s not unusual for visiting General Authorities to request a meeting with a nation’s president or other prominent civic leaders.

But when Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently visited the Peruvian capital, it was President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who asked for time together.

“The [Peruvian] president asked for a meeting with us to express his personal appreciation to a senior [LDS] leader for the help the Church provided during the floods in Peru last spring,” he told the Church News.

President Kuczynski, he added, “is a great admirer of the Church” and is grateful “for what the Church is doing to help Peru through our many members in that country.”

Such regard for the Church, the local members and their combined efforts to improve lives and communities is a by-product of the growth and maturity happening across the South America Northwest Area.

The South America Northwest Area — consisting of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia — is home to more than 1.3 million members, 233 stakes, 32 missions and six temples in operation (with four more under construction or announced).

Elder Oaks’ Sept. 7-18 visit to the bustling South America Northwest Area allowed him to preside over the annual Area Review and also meet with tens of thousands of members (either in person or via Internet broadcast) in a variety of member and missionary meetings and Priesthood Leadership Conferences. His schedule included extended stops in Lima and in Cali, Colombia.

The apostle was joined at various stops in his tour by his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, along with Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of Seventy and his wife, Sister Jan Robbins, and Bishop Gérald Caussé from the Presiding Bishopric.

Bishop Caussé reported the members were thrilled to listen and perhaps shake hands with Elder Oaks. “There was great enthusiasm to meet with an apostle of the Lord. You could see their excitement.”

Conversely, Elder Oaks said he was uplifted and impressed “by the maturity of the members and by the questions they asked during the question-and-answer portion of our Priesthood Leadership Conferences.”

The annual Area Review also offered Elder Oaks and the other visiting Brethren opportunities to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the local members. Of key concern was the well-being of the Latter-day Saints in Venezuela, where civil unrest continues to grabs each day’s headlines.

“Our members in Venezuela are facing difficult challenges, including food shortages and lack of jobs,” said Bishop Caussé. “The Church has reached out to them in a magnificent way, trying to offer any help that we can. But the most impressive thing has been what the Saints in Venezuela have done for one another.”

Despite dire troubles, the members in Venezuela continue to find ways to serve and care for one another. Baptisms and church attendance are both increasing. Members are exercising faith and an increased willingness to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“As always, Church membership brings with it the hope and guidance that can see us through crisis,” said Elder Oaks.

Continued growth in the five nations making up the South America Northwest Area will depend upon the faithfulness and dedication of the Area’s young men and young women, observed Bishop Caussé. “The youth in these countries know the gospel. They love the gospel. They are excited to be members of the Church.”

New temples in the Area are being built in the Peruvian cities of Arequipa and Lima (the capital’s second), in Barranquilla, Colombia, and in Quito Ecuador. Those future, sacred edifices offer both great blessings and responsibilities, added Bishop Caussé.

“There is a need for all the members of the Church in the South America Northwest Area to continue to be faithful in attending the temple — and being more and more active in their participation in the temple ordinances.”

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