The message of the Book of Mormon has had much appeal to the children of Lehi in the Americas and the Pacific Islands. The descendants of Lehi, Mulek and the Jaredites are spread all over the Americas. Often times, the writers of the Book of Mormon thought of their descendants when recording precious truths. This ancient record is considered a family book for many of the children of Lehi in our days. Specific promises are given to the blood descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.
The Americas, from as far north as Alaska and as far south as La Patagonia, have the blessing of being inhabited by some of the children of Lehi who are many times referred to as Lamanites by the members of the Church.
President Spencer W. Kimball answered the question of 'Who are the Lamanites?' by saying: "The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. Millions of you are descendants of Spaniards and Indians, and are termed mestizos, and are called after your countries, for instance: Mexicans in Mexico; Guatemalans in Guatemala; Chilianos in Chile. You Polynesians of the Pacific are called Samoan or Maori, Tahitian or Hawaiian, according to your island." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 596.)
On a certain occasion, an angel said to Nephi that in our days, we would have "the mixture of thy seed" in the Americas. (1 Ne. 13:30.)
Being among those with this lineage causes deep feelings of gratitude. Such feelings of gratitude come from interacting with the sons and daughters of the prophets of ancient America, the sons and daughters of kings and queens. The Savior when speaking to them pointed out: "And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." (3 Ne. 20:25.)
This gratitude also comes for the labors and pains of the fathers of these children of Lehi on preparing the records of the Book of Mormon whose truths bless our lives.
The Book of Mormon has a direct message for the children of Lehi. Moroni starts his book saying: 'Wherefore, I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more; but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord." (Moroni 1:4.)
It is worth noting that the longing for the "mixture of thy seed" receiving "the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also the knowledge of my covenants" (2 Ne. 3:12) is a common desire expressed by the writers of the Book of Mormon.
The prayers of the Ancient Americas prophets are partly answered by the way their descendants recognized the message of the Book of Mormon. For example, it is no surprise that missionaries face no major challenges when teaching about the Godhead and the visit of Christ to America. Some Otavalo Indians in Ecuador say that their abuelitos (grandparents) have taught them, according to their traditions that date back to before the arrival of the white man, that there is God the Father and God the Son. These abuelitos have also taught about a Man-God that visited their ancestors. Juan Muoz, a stake president in Otavalo-Ecuador, commented that for some of them the Book of Mormon is a family book because it has the history of their ancestors.
Wonderful promises were made to the children of Lehi. As Nephi said: "And now, I would prophecy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book (Book of Mormon) of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed. And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants to the Jews. And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers. And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes." (2 Ne. 30:4-6.)
The knowledge of their fathers and the knowledge of Jesus Christ are already among the children of Lehi. Wards and stakes are organized among them. Temples are operating. Local leadership has taken more positions than ever before. Opportunities for education are growing and more and more of the children of Lehi are taking diverse professional options. Among the members of the Church, we have more and more lawyers, physicians, engineers, architects, administrators, writers, etc., who are descendants of our Father Lehi.
"And many generations shall not pass away among them" (2 Ne. 30:6) that the promises will be completely fulfilled.
The Book of Mormon is making the difference in bringing the children of Lehi to their promised blessings. The scales of darkness are falling. The promises will be built over Lamanite generations of Church members and new converts. Indeed, the "Lamanites shall blossom as the rose" before the "great day of the Lord shall come." (D&C 49:24.)
Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, an Area Authority Seventy and counselor in the South America North Area, is a former president of the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission, regional representative, stake president and stake president's counselor. He is a Church Educational System area director.