Call is in keeping with ancient promise

Lamanite leader described as a ‘pillar of strength’ who is committed to the gospel

Elder Horacio A. Tenorio is described by as-sociates as a "pillar of strength," a man who is absolutely committed to the gospel.

Church organizations flower under the touch of Elder Tenorio, one of the Lamanite leaders who emerged to make great contributions in the 1970s. During that decade of growth, the number of stakes in his native Mexico jumped from five to 55.Since his conversion in 1969, the 5-foot-10 businessman has immersed himself in service to the Church. His wife, Maria Teresa, is described by an associate as a "beautiful example, and a great strength to him."

"Elder Tenorio is one who never looks at his clock to know when it is time to stop for the night," said Pres. Guillermo V. Torres, a long-time associate of Elder Tenorio who is now presiding over the Mexico Merida Mission. "He is a very spiritual man with great love for the gospel; he is a great leader in the Church, as well as a great friend.

"The blessings of having a Mexican General Authority are in harmony with the promises made to the descendants of the house of Israel – that the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.

"The people in Mexico are overjoyed with his calling."

Elder Tenorio was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 1.

He was born March 6, 1936, in Mexico City to Leopoldo Horacio Tenorio, a chemist; and Blanca Otilia Tenorio, a journalist. He was raised in Ciudad Obregon and it was there where he and Maria Teresa de la Torre met and were married. He is a university graduate in business administration, and became a well-paid administrator and purchasing agent for a large electronics factory.

Their comfortable life was interrupted by a knock on the door.

Missionaries visited the de la Torre home while Maria de Tenorio was visiting. They agreed to return in the evening.

"I went along to refute them," recalled Elder Tenorio. Evening after evening for months, the Tenorios went five miles to her parents' home to keep appointments with the missionaries. She would listen, and he would attempt to prove them wrong.

Finally, after three and a half months, "I felt of the Spirit one night while reading their scriptures," he said. "Then I knew that all the teachings of the missionaries were true. I said to my wife, `I am ready to be baptized.' She had already been converted and was waiting for me."

During the lessons, the missionaries had never taken them to a Church building. After their baptism, they found a meetinghouse a great distance from their home, and attended services. But the bishop there told them they were members of another branch. The Tenrios traveled the other direction and located another meetinghouse, but again they were told that they were in the wrong area. This time they learned that in their area on the outskirts of Mexico City, there was no LDS meetinghouse. Their tiny group met in a ramshackle, rental house.

As the months went by, the Tenorios and two other member families who studied and fellowshipped with them seemed continually searching for a new place to meet, each in rundown, rental homes.

"We asked ourselves, `Why do we go from place to place searching for unattractive places to meet?' That is when we decided to build a chapel," said Elder Tenorio. Laboring selflessly with the other two families to build a meetinghouse, he grasped the vision of service that remade his life as a servant of the Master.

About this same time, he began to wrestle with himself about his work. As purchasing agent of electronic supplies for a factory, he was continually negotiating with other agents, some of whom required unethical gifts or payments.

"I had a fight with myself, but I decided to renounce my work after 10 years," he said. "I went to work for

wages, which was a challenge."

A second challenge came a short time after their baptism. Both their parents at first seemed to agree with their choice to be baptized, but when their lives changed so much, each set of parents became more distant. "That was difficult," said Elder Tenorio.

"We received a lot of love from the members, and we knew we were in the correct place," he said.

He was called as Sunday School teacher, and within a year was branch president. A year later, in 1971, he was called as bishop by Pres. Torres, then of the Mexico City stake. Pres. Torres remembered, "We were concerned that the First Presidency would say that he had not been a member long enough, but they approved.

"I saw him grow as a priesthood leader when he was made bishop," said Pres. Torres.

During this period, the young bishop traveled to Salt Lake City to conference. While in Salt Lake City, he tried to buy sacrament cups. Unable to find them, he visited the Church purchasing division where he met Elder Robert E. Wells, now of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Mexico/Central America Area, and then the Church's purchasing agent. Elder Wells' associates noted that Bishop Tenorio had been a purchasing agent for a large company. As a consequence, he was interviewed and hired by the Church as a purchasing agent for the Church to serve in Mexico.

Two years later, in 1974, Pres. Torres called the young bishop as his counselor in the Mexico City North Stake presidency. Theirs was a mammoth responsibility that grew from eight wards and branches to 28 in about a year.

"We worked long days," recalled Pres. Torres. Because the wives of the stake president and his counselors were alone much of the time, the women were invited to spend time together at the stake president's home, he said.

One relief from that separation came when the stake presidency and their wives traveled by car on a three-day trip to Mesa, Ariz., to go to the temple and be sealed. "All through the trip, he showed great courtesy and attention to the stake president," said Pres. Torres. "Now, when he is a General Authority and I am a mission president, he is still showing me that great courtesy and respect."

The stake was divided in 1974, and a year later local leaders suggested another two stakes be created. The visiting authority, Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve, instead created three stakes. Other stakes also were divided that historic weekend on Nov. 8-9 to result in a total of 13 new stakes. Pres. Tenorio became president of one new stake, and Pres. Torres' other counselor, Pres. Jorge Rojas, was called to preside over another.

Within six years of his conversion where three families had been meeting in ramshackle rented homes, Pres. Tenorio found himself presiding over the Mexico City Mexico Satelite Stake (now the Tlalnepantla stake).

After serving as stake president with "initiative, tenacity and love" for four years, Pres. Tenorio's stakes multiplied rapidly. In 1977, he was called as regional representative over five burgeoning regions. He was responsible with others to organize the massive area conference which President Spencer W. Kimball visited. "It was a most beautiful experience to be with President Kimball and other General Authorities for three days," he said. "It was a grand experience that I hold sacred."

Three years later, he was called as a mission president. Before he was assigned, "I knew, by a feeling inside, that I would preside over the Torreon mission," he said.

Unlike the previous calling where he had traveled frequently and been away from his family, this calling included his wife. She was to be with him a great deal of the time.

"When he realized that we would be together for three years, he laughingly said, `good grief!' " his wife recalled with a smile. "But he enjoyed it, and he would do it again."

After the mission, he established two businesses, one distributing ice cream flavors, and another distributing irrigation systems. He was again called to be regional representative.

His call as a General Authority came as a complete surprise, he said. "I was called to meet with the First Presidency, but there are many callings in the Church.

"I am the first from Mexico to be called to this position, but most likely not the last," he said. "We have been waiting many years for a Mexican Lamanite General Authority. But never, never in my imagination did I think it would be me. I realize I have a great responsibility.

"The Lord has opened the door now, and there are many good leaders in Mexico."

Even so, the next decade will test that leadership, he said, as it brings "an explosion of growth. There will be many baptisms, but we will be working very forcefully to retain and fellowship the converts. In the next 10 years, we expect to have more than 30,000 returned missionaries who will be able to be leaders. We will have upward of 200 stakes, and the corresponding members for those stakes. We will have the members and we will have the leaders – we see great possibilities."


(additional information)

Born: March 6, 1936, in Mexico City, Mexico.

Family: Married Maria Teresa de la Torre, parents of three daughters, Maria Teresa (Mrs. Kent Player), Monica, and Maria del Rocio.

Career: Purchasing agent, businessman, owner of ice cream flavors distributing company and irrigation distribution company.

Education: Graduated from a business college in sales, and attended graduate school in purchasing.

Church callings: Bishop, stake president's counselor, stake president, regional representative, mission president, regional representative.