Returned missionaries throng to Ecuador reunion

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador — Eight presidents of missions in Ecuador plus an estimated 2,000 returned missionaries and family members recently attended a missionary reunion here in the Kennedy meetinghouse, in conjunction with the recent dedication of the new Guayaquil Ecuador Temple.

"The attendance of the reunion was overwhelming," said Troy Young, a former missionary to Ecuador and one of the organizers. "The chapel, the cultural hall, and stage and aisles were filled, as well as the basketball court outside, where speakers were set up."

In addition, the hallways, foyers, adjacent rooms and outdoor areas were jammed with people listening to the mission presidents and becoming re-acquainted.

The mission presidents attending and speaking included James Averil Jesperson, president of the Andes Mission who opened the work in Ecuador in 1965; Louis Latimer, the first president of the Ecuador Mission; and J. Lynn Shawcroft, now president of the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple. Other former mission presidents attending were James E. Heward, Jack Mitchell, Frederick Pingree and Renato Maldonado. Pres. Robert S. Gabbitas, current president of the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission, attended and spoke. Also attending was David Daines, a former regional representative, who spoke about the history of the Church in Ecuador.

"The returned missionaries who traveled to Ecuador, as well as the former missionaries from Ecuador who served in their own country, didn't make the trip as tourists," said Brother Young. "We deeply love the members in Ecuador, and shed many tears of joy as we shared this incredible event [of the temple dedication] with those wonderful people."