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Mexico museum

Honoring 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith, Benito Juarez

A season of anniversaries is being marked at the Museo de Historia del Mormonismo en Mexico (Museum of Mormon History in Mexico).

For starters, the museum is celebrating its own 10th birthday. In 1995, Fernando R. and Enriqueta Gomez opened the privately owned, non-profit institution that sits across the street from the Mexico City D.F. Mexico Temple to publicly display the history and experience of LDS Mexicans. Museum visitors are presented with a historical glimpse of the American missionaries who first brought the gospel to Mexico — along with the struggles and victories of those who accepted their message, endured troubles and helped establish the ever-growing Church in Mexico.

In conjunction with the anniversary of its first decade, the museum recently opened a trio of exhibits.

The first commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. The exhibit includes several works of art created by youth from the Mexico City Mexico Cuautitlan Stake depicting pivotal moments from the life of the Prophet. Included are images of the First Vision, the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Brother Gomez said.

A pictorial time line of Joseph Smith's life is enhanced by 11 letters, translated into Spanish, from the Prophet to his wife, Emma Smith.

These personal letters give a special understanding of the challenges endured by this couple during the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this last dispensation, Brother Gomez said.

Pictorial representations of Joseph Smith's life complete the exhibit.

Of the hundreds from various parts of Mexico who have enjoyed the Joseph Smith exhibit, some 30 percent are not Church members, Brother Gomez added.

"This marvelous exhibit has made my heart feel the humility for all that our beloved Prophet did and suffered in order for us to know the truth, and the beautiful example Emma demonstrated in support of her husband," said Esperanza Perez Renacano of the Tecalco 2nd Ward, Tecalco Mexico Stake.

Also on display is an exhibit marking next year's 200th anniversary of the birth of Mexican national hero, Benito Juarez.

Born into poverty to Zapoteca Indian parents, Juarez overcame tremendous hardships to become the president of Mexico. He was a champion of religious freedom whose ideology and actions opened the door for LDS missionaries to preach the gospel in Mexico in the second half of the 19th century. President Juarez would also grant refuge to Mormon colonists fleeing the United States, Brother Gomez said.

Besides Juarez's influence on religious freedom, he was also instrumental in developing a system of civil records in Mexico that have been priceless to LDS family history research.

Brother Gomez believes God's hand can be traced in the actions of Juarez. "He is recognized as an honest person," who championed freedom, Brother Gomez said.

A third exhibit is a pictorial history of the establishment of the Church in Mexico that is rich in local LDS historical memorabilia.

The Museo de Historia del Mormonismo is open year-round, Tuesdays-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

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