Both the people and the land of Honduras received a blessing recently when that Central American country was dedicated by Elder Russell M. Nelson for the preaching of the gospel.
Elder Nelson of the Council of the Twelve offered the dedicatory prayer on a mountain called El Pecacho (The Peak). El Pecacho is a 5,000-foot mountain that towers above the capital city of Tegucigalpa, offering a spectacular view from its summit.Although there are nine stakes and two missions in Honduras with more than 30,000 members, the country was never dedicated before, "so the Brethren felt now was the time for that to be done," said Elder Nelson. "The Church is now mature in that country," he explained. Missionary work in Honduras began in 1952.
Elder Nelson was accompanied by Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gardner H. Russell of the Seventy and a counselor in the Central America Area presidency. About 50 local leaders also ascended the mountain to witness the dedication, held June 1.
Remarks were offered by Elder Pinegar and Elder Russell, and then the prayer was given.
Elder Nelson explained the prayer was an expression of gratitude to the Lord for re-establishing the Church and gospel, for the mission of the Savior and for the First Presidency.
"The contents of the prayer were to invoke the blessing of the Lord that the Church might be strengthened in the land and that appropriate use of the scriptures might be established."
The prayer also petitioned that "the people might be receptive to the teachings of the Lord and that the land itself might be blessed to be prosperous and productive, and be preserved.
"The blessing also included a prayer for the incumbent and future leaders of the government of that land so they could administer the laws with righteousness and freedom that would allow people to worship as they pleased, and be responsible for their own acts."
Elder Nelson said the people appreciated the blessing. "The spirit of the people is one of great faith," he explained. "We saw a great outpouring of devotion and a real feeling of gratitude for what transpired on that weekend.
"This was the rainy season in Central America," said Elder Nelson. "Clouds were overhead and rains were much in evidence wherever we looked. But at our particular spot, we were in sunshine.
"The saints had erected a little canopy to protect us either from rain or the rays of the sun. So we gathered under that little canopy."
Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Marion G. Romney, then of the Council of the Twelve, were instrumental in promoting missionary work in Central America. Early in the 1950s, they visited Honduras and left a tract and a copy of the Book of Mormon with a hotel waiter, who was later baptized. Missionary work in Honduras began Dec. 10, 1952, a month after the Central America Mission was opened in Guatemala City, Guatemala. A branch was organized in Tegucigalpa March 22, 1953.
The first stake in Honduras was created April 10, 1977, with Samuel Ben-Zion Ventura as president. The Honduras mission was created Jan. 1, 1980, with 6,300 members in the country.
By the end of 1987, membership had increased to 23,000. The mission was divided July 1, 1990, and the country's ninth stake was created in September 1990.
While in Central America, Elder Nelson also addressed a regional conference and a missionary group. He described the missionaries in Tegucigalpa as "a very handsome group, about two-thirds, I should judge, Latin American missionaries. They have many lady missionaries in Honduras - they are enjoying their work."
Elder Nelson added: "I never set foot on any place in the Americas - North, Central, or the South American continent but that I realize that somewhere along these precincts are the people who tread the paths of those of Book of Mormon history.
"As you see the mountainous terrain of Central America - that narrow neck of land between these two vast continents of North and South America, you see those people - then and now - have tough going.
"It is difficult terrain, both from the standpoint of transportation and from the standpoint of agriculture. They work hard for everything they have.
"Things will be better now that this dedication has taken place," he said. "I look forward to a re-committing of resources and faith on the part of the the people to make the Church even stronger than ever before."