“Youth and young single adults in Peru and Bolivia are exceptional — exhibiting a love for the Savior and His Atonement and resurrection,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook after recently returning from a visit to the South American nations.
Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, visited Peru and Bolivia Jan. 20-29 — speaking at youth, missionary, priesthood leadership and member meetings.
“The rising generation is coming along very well in Peru and Bolivia,” Elder Cook reported. “They looked like missionaries. They were dressed so appropriately and were so attentive.”
Elder and Sister Cook were initially accompanied by Elder Enrique R. Falabella, a General Authority Seventy, who had recently arrived in Peru to commence his assignment in the South America Southwest Area Presidency. Also, Elder Carlos A. Godoy and Elder Hugo Montoya, both General Authority Seventies and members of the Area Presidency, and their wives, Sister Mônica Godoy and Sister Carmen Montoya, accompanied the Cooks on various parts of the visit.
During the trip, Elder Cook presided at two priesthood leadership conferences and addressed more than 1,500 missionaries from missions in Lima, Peru, and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and at the Lima Peru MTC.
In addition, Elder Cook spoke at youth and young single adult devotionals, asking them to focus on faith in the Savior and living gospel principles they do not fully understand, instead of emphasizing concerns or doubts. Elder Cook also involved the Seventies and their wives by asking them questions about when they were young and were faced with the same concerns that exist with young people today.
Peru — a nation of 30 million people — is home to well over half a million members of the Church and is one of only four nations with more than 100 stakes.
The country has 13 missions and two operating temples in Lima and Trujillo, Peru.
President Thomas S. Monson announced a second temple for the city of Lima, the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, during the Sunday morning session of general conference on April 3, 2016.
Elder Cook said a second temple in Lima will be a great blessing for Latter-day Saints who have faithfully attended the temple. Some Peruvian Latter-day Saints come in buses from 12 to 24 hours away and spend two to three days doing temple work in Lima, he said.
“There is an excitement and feeling of appreciation for the new temple,” he added.
In addition to the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, another temple has been announced for Peru in Arequipa — which will bring the total number of temples in Peru to four. The first temple in Lima, the Lima Peru Temple, was dedicated in 1986. Church growth in the city began in July 1956, when an official branch was organized in Lima. Missionaries began preaching in August and a Church building was purchased in November. Prior to this, Latter-day Saint families living in Peru held group meetings. In 1959, when the Andes Mission was organized, there were 300 members in five congregations.
“In the five decades since the first mission was organized in Peru, the Church has grown and thrived in the nation,” said Elder Cook. “In addition to successful missionary efforts in the country, faithful Latter-day Saints have reported increased blessings from a renewed focus on Sabbath observance,” he said.
Bolivia — today home to almost 200,000 members — has five missions, 28 stakes, and one temple — the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple.
While participating in a priesthood leadership conference in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Elder Cook learned that members in that area travel 12 hours to visit the temple in Cochabamba. “Families gave sweet accounts of their temple visits,” he said.
Missionaries preaching in the Andes Mission arrived in Bolivia in November 1964 and baptized the first convert that December. The first Bolivian to serve a mission for the Church was Desiderio Arce Cano in 1967. He left a singing career in Argentina to serve in his native land. He later presided over a stake and a mission for the Church. In recent years, the Church has sponsored humanitarian projects in Bolivia, including village development projects and medical supply donations to hospitals in the country.
Today the Church is thriving in Santa Cruz — a city of 2 million people. A pioneer member told Elder Cook that it is “a thrill to see so many of our returned missionaries serving in leadership positions.”