'Great mutual respect'

President Monson visits Panamanian president


A day after dedicating the Panama City Panama Temple, President Thomas S. Monson paid a visit to the nation's president and also addressed almost 200 full-time missionaries serving in Panama.

• The Church president enjoyed a meeting with Panama's President Martin Torrijos and his wife, First Lady Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, at Panama's Presidential Palace on Aug. 11. The occasion marked the first time a Church president had met with a Panamanian president.

President Monson was joined by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy and president of the Central America Area. Also in attendance were President Monson's daughter, Sister Ann M. Dibb, who is second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf and Sister Mary Anne Clarke.

Writing about the event, Elder Clarke said "great mutual respect" was present at the meeting. President Torrijos expressed thanks for the Church's many humanitarian projects in Panama, including those that have provided wheelchairs to Panamanians in need. The national leader also spoke of the Church's projects that benefit children.

President Torrijos inquired about President Monson's reasons for visiting Panama. The Church leader answered that he had approved the site of the Panama City Panama Temple and wanted to participate in its dedication. President Monson also spoke of his love of history and his great respect for the Panamanian people, according to Elder Clarke.

President Monson also complimented President Torrijos for his efforts to help his country progress, especially in areas of humanitarian work, construction and the expansion of the Panama Canal. The two men also discussed the Church's worldwide humanitarian efforts, with its emphasis on helping children in areas such as literacy.

The First Lady spoke of her visit to the new temple during the recent open house period. Mrs. Torrijos said she was impressed with the temple and the LDS people.

President Uchtdorf shared with the President and Mrs. Torrijos his testimony of the power of Christ and the importance of the new temple for all the people of Panama. The Panama City Panama Temple, he added, would bless the country by strengthening its people and making them better.

Elder Scott told the president and first lady that he was amazed by the power of the Panama Canal. An engineer by profession, the apostle said the canal has done much to change the world. The newly dedicated temple, he added, will also better the lives of the Panamanian people.

Sister Uchtdorf said President and Mrs. Torrijos had "great hearts" for working hard to provide their countrymen and women with better lives by initiating humanitarian-themed programs.

President Monson presented the President and Mrs. Torrijos with a small statue of a child taking her first steps.

• President Monson and his fellow Church leaders also offered direction and encouragement to missionaries in the Panama City Panama Mission.

President Monson and President Uchtdorf both testified of the divine inspiration that can be found behind each missionary assignment. In his remarks, the Church president spoke of the importance of missionaries working closely with local members to find people to teach the gospel.

In his remarks to the missionaries, President Uchtdorf said Sister Uchtdorf's family had been taught and baptized into the Church by missionaries who persisted in knocking on every door in the apartment complex where her family lived. The missionaries experienced rejection at each door until finally finding Sister Uchtdorf's receptive family in the last apartment on the last floor.

A fluent Spanish-speaker, Elder Scott said it was important that the missionaries broaden their language skills while taking advantage of the unique opportunity a mission affords to study the gospel in depth and to better know the Savior.

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