Like the ripples that spread silently from a pebble tossed into a pond, the influence of the Mexico City Temple continues to extend into wider and wider circles.
The temple is the LDS spiritual center of the city. Within the temple block are facilities for family history, missionary and temple work. Each has a sphere of impact.The Family History Services Center has helped members make considerable progress in family history in the past few years, noted Amado Rojas Gress, director. The Family History Services Center supports some hundred family history centers throughout Mexico with technology, training, microfilm and other services. Members at these centers supply family names for temple work, and some 98 percent of the researchers in the centers are members. The number of family names submitted has tripled in the past three years.
"The members are starting to feel the spirit of Elijah," said Brother Rojas.
He told of one woman who had submitted names for many years for temple work. When she learned recently that clearance and work for the names she submitted could be done immediately, "She was actually crying for the emotion she felt," said Brother Rojas.
Missionary couples serving family history missions on the temple block have made great contributions in typing names that had stacked up from extraction projects, said Brother Rojas.
In the nearby Mexico City Mexico Moctezuma Stake, missionary influence from the temple block is felt. Pres. Ruben Torres Cruz, first counselor in the stake presidency, said a goal is to have each active family in the stake bring another family into the Church.
"Many members have receptive spirits to help accomplish this goal," he said. "Members help fellowship the new members and take them to the visitors center at the temple. We have nearly 4,000 active members in the stake."
An average of 20 new members are baptized in the stake each month, said Pres. Torres. However, Church activity is difficult for many because of the economic challenges in this section of the city. Pres. Torres estimated that about 60 percent of the stake members earn their livelihood by selling in the streets or having street shops, called micro-businesses. Despite their economic challenges, these members are faithful in their membership and many of them attend the temple as often as they can.
Leaders work hard to teach the less-prosperous members the principles of self-reliance, and from this they gain more industrious, spiritual natures, he said.
"Members have great faith, and they are changing from having material goals to having spiritual goals."
Pres. Torres suggested his conversion is an example of the change that comes with the gospel. Before he joined the Church, he had a business of playing records in the streets for dances, especially at night. As a result he was often tired during the day. When missionaries taught him the gospel, he changed his life and lifestyle. He sold the records and record player, and bought a partnership in a toy store. He's since been able to expand the store and buy higher quality merchandise. "All of us want to improve our lives economically," he said. "But improving spiritually is more important. Serving in the Church helps us to change spiritually."
At a more distant side of the city, the importance of temple marriage is a strengthening factor at the Church's Institute of Religion at the National Autonoma University. One of the most popular courses at the institute is preparation for a temple marriage, said Benjamin de Hoyos, institute director.
"Each semester, for the past three years, two or three couples from the class are married in the temple," he said.
The 150 LDS university students at the institute attend mostly afternoon and evening institute classes. Almost a third of the returned missionaries attending the institute attended the Church's Benemerito de las Americas preparatory school, also located in Mexico City.
"Many more students than in the past are becoming professionals," Brother de Hoyos explained. "We have institute students studying to become doctors, accountants, attorneys, engineers, technicians, teachers. Some continue on with institute classes after they complete their courses."