MONTERREY, Mexico — In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the dedication of Mexico for missionary work and the 121st anniversary of the Spanish translation of the Book of Mormon, some 15,000 people gathered Aug. 19 in the Monterrey Arena here for an evening of worship, culture and fellowship.
The first missionaries entered Mexico in 1876. Five years later — 125 years ago — Elder Moses Thatcher dedicated Mexico for missionary work and colonization.
Members and their guests from the 21 stakes and two districts that form the Mexico North Area listened to counsel from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy. Also in attendance were local government leaders and dignitaries.
In his address, Elder Oaks spoke of President Gordon B. Hinckley's great love for Mexico and his constant concern for the Church's youth and young adults.
Elder Oaks challenged the young people to stay morally clean and become defenders of the truth. The youth of the Church, he added, are "the future of this country," and the next leaders of the Church here in Mexico.
The other speakers expressed their love for the gospel, the Lord's temples and the marvelous opportunity to make a difference in a changing world. An 800-voice Young Single Adult choir performed hymns during the devotional.
A 90 minute, missionary-themed cultural event that followed the devotional surpassed the expectations of all who participated. Some 3,000 young people spent six months preparing for the cultural event, practicing during their weekly Mutual gatherings. The participants performed a diverse selection of dances from various regions of Mexico.
The many people who helped prepare the event behind the scenes were blessed with smiles and a spirit of brotherhood. Enthusiastic young people who are not members of the Church also participated in the cultural program, entitled "Jesus Is the Light."
The program's missionary message touched on elements of the Church, such as the pre-mortal existence, Christ's appearance on the American continent and the restoration of the gospel. A procession of some 400 missionaries — all singing "Called to Serve" — highlighted the event's finale.