From a young age, Sister Cristina B. Franco, newly called second counselor in the Primary general presidency, learned that if she had a question she could turn to prayer for an answer.
“I remember going to my mom when I was 11 or so, and I remember asking her a doctrinal question,” she said. “She answered my question, but told me, ‘You don’t have to take my word for it.’ So I prayed and asked my Heavenly Father if it was true. From there my little testimony grew.”
From then on she knew she had a Heavenly Father who loves her and would answer her prayers. That knowledge — gained as a young woman — set a pattern that has helped the new Primary leader throughout her entire life.
Cristina Beatriz Fraga was born on Sept. 22, 1958, to Hugo R. and Maria A. Godoy Fraga in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the oldest of four children and has three younger brothers.
When she was only 3 years old, a pair of missionaries knocked on her parents’ door with a message about the restored gospel. After studying and attending church for about eight months, the couple decided to join the Church and began raising their family in the gospel.
“It not only changed my parents, it also changed my life,” she said. “It changed generations. … I grew up going to Primary with my brothers. That is where I met my husband as well.”
It was while attending Primary that she first met Rodolfo “Rudy” C. Franco, another child in Primary who later became her “best friend.”
Growing up in Argentina, she was often the only member of the Church in her school, so attending Young Women and Sunday School was an important part of her testimony and learning to love the Lord and trust in His gospel.
A test of her faith came when she was 18, as Sister Franco’s parents decided they wanted to move their family to Utah.
“This year makes 40 years that we immigrated to Salt Lake City,” she said. “After I graduated, I was 18 years old, and my dad had a job contract in Utah. It was hard to leave.”
The family moved in 1977 for her father to continue his career as a watchmaker. At that time she and Rudy — the young man she met as a child in Primary — had been dating and knew they wanted to be married, but Rudy was required to serve some time in the Argentine military.
“He was my best friend through high school until one day I realized that I liked him just a little more than for my friend,” she said. “We dated about eight months before I left.”
After arriving with her family in Utah the couple wrote letters to each other and young Cristina got a job working at a grocery store. There her coworkers would help her learn 10 English words a day. After about a month she had learned 300 words and within three months she was fluent.
“I met some of the sweetest people who had the greatest patience,” she said. “They taught me English.”
The couple continued to write letters and decided, after Rudy was done with his military service, to marry. Even though there wasn’t a temple in Argentina at the time, the couple felt is was important “to start our life in the temple,” she said, and they were married on Dec. 15, 1978, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of three sons and have nine grandchildren.
Eventually the couple moved to Utah where they followed in the footsteps of Sister Franco’s father, a watchmaker, and together worked at a watch and clock shop in Salt Lake City for nearly three decades.
For 28 years, Sister Franco worked in the family business that specialized in fixing and selling watches. Even with demanding work schedules, the Francos made sure spending time together as a family was a top priority — daily.
“We love to have meals together,” she said. “It was really important to me. I grew up in a family where it was tradition to have meals together, and we turned the TV off. Now, we remember those times as our greatest times together sharing what happened during the day.”
Making time for scripture study was also something they tried to do with their children each day.
“We loved reading scriptures together before [the kids] went to school,” she said. “We had to make sure they put on their ‘armor’ every day.”
In addition to spending time with her family, Sister Franco finds joy in art — specifically painting with watercolors and working with acrylics — and has had some of her designs printed by an international fabric distributor.
Sister Franco has served in many capacities in the Church — within the Primary, Young Women, Relief Society and Sunday School organizations. She served on the Primary general board for five years beginning in 2005.
“The Lord has really blessed my life and treated me with the best people around me that I could learn from them,” she said.
Sister Franco said one of her favorite Church assignments over the years was being a part of the planning for the Draper Utah Temple open house and dedication. Her husband was serving as a stake president in the area and was involved in coordinating the stakes in the temple district.
“That was one of the highlights of our life,” she said. “To be able to be part of working for the House of the Lord. … It was a lot of work but everything came together and now there is the temple of the Lord.”
At the time of her call to the Primary general presidency, Sister Franco was serving with her husband as he presided over the Argentina Resistencia Mission. For the Francos, their mission has been a great experience as they have worked full-time with young missionaries to share the gospel and be a part of the Lord’s work.
“As a missionary we always know that this work is bigger than ourselves and that the Lord will be with us,” she said. “It is a different thing to experience it and to know that no matter what the Lord will never leave you alone — no matter how hard, whatever things you have to go through. It is just amazing how the Lord works.”
She looks to her new assignment with that same assurance that the Lord will be with her as she does her part in His work.
“It is a great responsibility we have on our shoulders to teach the Primary children and help them to walk in the light,” she said. “I hope that we as adults would remember how important they are to our Heavenly Father and they will be the future leaders of the Church.”
As she looks to her new assignment, Sister Franco looks to the words of Nephi in the Book of Mormon where the Lord promises He will “help me in whatever He commands me to do.”
“I go forward with faith, for with the Lord we can do anything.”
Sister Cristina Franco Bio Box
Family: Born in September 1958 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Hugo R. Fraga and Maria A. Godoy Fraga. Married Rodolfo C. Franco on Dec. 15, 1978, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of three sons and have nine grandchildren.
Employment: Spent 28 years working in her family’s business that specialized in fixing and selling watches.
Church service: Served in many different capacities in the Primary, Young Women, Relief Society and Sunday School organizations. She served as a member of the Primary general board from 2005 to 2010. At the time of her call to serve as the second counselor in the Primary general presidency, Sister Franco was serving with her husband as he presided over the Argentina Resistencia Mission.