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His family a nucleus for Church growth

He is among Portugal's earliest Church members

Church services in his boyhood city of Coimbra, Portugal, seemed for young Jose Teixeira like a weekly family reunion.

He joined the Church in 1977 with his parents, brother and sister. They had met the missionaries in 1976, only a year after the Church was established in Portugal.

"The brothers and sisters of my mother who lived in that town, were all baptized too, and their families," recalled Elder Teixeira (pronounced "tay-SHER-uh"), who was sustained in April at general conference as a new member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

"I think the missionaries must have baptized 30 people or so from the family," he said. "So going to Church was being with my uncles, aunts and cousins" along with a dozen or so other members.

"The first meeting I went to," he said, "was in the basement of (a building with) a public swimming pool. It was the darkest dungeon that I've been in. It didn't resemble any kind of a church."

Later, the fledgling branch moved into rented rooms in a school. Eventually, a villa was purchased to meet the needs of the branch.

Thus, Elder Teixeira's extended family was the nucleus for the growth of the Church in that corner of the Lord's kingdom. Like many first-generation Latter-day Saints in Europe, they were pioneers.

What is it like in the town today?

"Oh, we have a strong stake there," he exclaimed. "I wouldn't be surprised if soon that stake will divide and another will be created. In fact, I was there as an Area Seventy with a General Authority when that stake was created. It was an incredible moment to see how a little branch of a few families grew into a stake of Zion with beautiful meetinghouses."

He also saw growth among the members of his extended family, with his father, Fernando, being a district president for nine years and his uncles serving as bishops and in other capacities.

Born in the city of Vila Real in the north of Portugal, Elder Teixeira was 2 when his family moved to Coimbra, where his father worked for the university. There, young Jose passed his free time haunting the campus library, devouring the Asterix series and other children's stories and gradually developing interest in other literature, thus laying the foundation for an abiding love of reading.

He also became an avid table tennis player prior to joining the Church at age 16.

After serving as a missionary in Portugal, he served in the military at an area NATO headquarters in the southern part of the country, where he met his future wife, Maria, who was a district director of public affairs for the Church. Like his family, hers had been pioneers of the Church in their area. Her father, Teles Grilo, a stake patriarch, was one of the prominent Latter-day Saints in Portugal when he died some years ago.

They fell in love and were soon married in the Swiss Temple.

"And from there, a big adventure," Elder Teixeira said, regarding his employment with the Church, culminating with a position as an international controller. "We began to move to all kinds of places. We went to Germany first, and to France."

Frequent moves drew their family of two sons and a daughter close together, he said. "We got to know a lot of different cultures, of course, in Europe. Our family is a tolerant family, but more so because we met so many people from so many places in the world."

The Teixeira home is an eclectic one, with traditions and artifacts from Portugal, Germany, France, even Africa, where Sister Teixeira's great-grandmother was appointed by the king as the first Portuguese teacher in Angola.

For all their cosmopolitan background, however, his call to preside over the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission (where he was serving at the time of his recent call as a General Authority) was for Elder Teixeira and his family yet another new adventure. They had never set foot in that South American land.

"And I'm glad it was that way," he said, "because that is the country of our mission. We love Brazil and the Brazilian people."

Precious memories of their three-year service have mostly to do with individuals who repented, changed their lives and embraced the gospel. One man they knew was unable, because of personal circumstances, to join the Church for a year and a half. But, in the meantime, he attended services faithfully and introduced some 20 friends to the Church, all of whom were baptized.

"He was an Amulek," Sister Teixeira said of their friend, alluding to Alma's great missionary companion in the Book of Mormon.

Fortifying the Teixeiras through their adventures together has been their mutual love.

"She's a big part of anything that has happened in my life," he said. And, of him, she said, "He's a man with vision; he works very hard, and everything he does he turns into success. It's always nice to be on his team, because we win!"

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