Elder Benjamín De Hoyos and his wife, Sister Evelia Genesta Mendivil, seem emblematic of two familiar faces of faithful Church members across the globe.
Like millions of others, Elder De Hoyos grew up surrounded by the gospel — the spiritual beneficiary of devout LDS parents and grandparents who endowed in their descendant the value and satisfaction of Church service and study.
Sister De Hoyos, meanwhile, first learned of the Church on adulthood’s cusp when a pair of missionaries knocked on the door of her widowed mother in Sonora, Mexico, and asked to share their happy message.
Indeed, the two have traveled diverse paths that ultimately led to a shared life of Church activity. Yet they say each way was paved by the example of others eager to share their love and testimony.
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Elder De Hoyos was recently called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in the centennial year of his family’s conversion to the Church. At a time when the Church was approaching a volatile period of new growth in Mexico, young Benjamin’s family was already being nourished by gospel roots that burrowed sure and deep.
“I can’t remember a time when my family did not attend Church,” said Elder De Hoyos, 51. “My mother was in the (branch) choir, so I learned most of the hymns as I would sit and wait for her (as she practiced). My parents were always faithful. That has been their legacy.”
Elder De Hoyos’ father, Alfredo De Hoyos, was a student of the scriptures who gathered his children together for “family home evening” long before the program had been institutionalized by the Church. “Sometimes he would repeat the same lesson two or three times until we had learned the material well,” Elder De Hoyos recalled.
The newly called General Authority also learned from his parents that the Church affords its members a community of fellowship and love. Alfredo De Hoyos owned a large truck that he used during the week for his construction job. The big family truck also performed a Sabbath-day duty.
“On Sundays we went from neighborhood to neighborhood, picking up relatives and fellow members until the truck was filled — it unified us with all the other families,” Elder De Hoyos said.
Although Evelia Genesta De Hoyos did not join the Church until she was 16, she immediately felt at home in her new faith because of the generous, good-hearted ways of the Sonoran members. “Members play such an important role in the lives of new converts,” she said. “A girl that had fellowshipped me came to my house the day of my baptism with a pressed white dress. That meant so much to me.”
Evelia was asked to teach Primary just days after joining the Church. She regards that first, simple Church job as an inspired and precious calling that allowed her to learn the basics of the gospel as she prepared to teach children each week. The enthusiastic young member would later be called as a district missionary in her hometown of Ciudad Obregon. While serving as a missionary she met her future husband, who was laboring as a full-time missionary in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission.
Months later, the two developed a friendship at the Church-owned Benemerito Academy in Mexico City where Elder De Hoyos was teaching seminary and the future Sister De Hoyos worked as a secretary. They were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1975 and today have six children — five boys and a daughter.
It’s apropos that Elder and Sister De Hoyos met while both serving missions and then reunited while working at an LDS school. Their lives together have been defined by Church service.
“We have served in almost every Church calling,” said Elder De Hoyos, who presided over the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission (1996-1999) and was serving as an Area Seventy and second counselor in the Mexico South Area at the time of his call to the Seventy.
Through their combined service, the De Hoyos have been eyewitnesses to the gospel miracle that is Mexico — home to more than a million members. In the early years of their marriage, the couple would take a two-day trip to Mesa twice a year to visit the temple. Following the 1983 dedication of the Mexico City D.F. Mexico Temple, the De Hoyos looked for the day when two, maybe three more temples would be built in their country. Elder De Hoyos shakes his head when he considers the 13 temples operating today on Mexican soil.
“President Hinckley has represented a fulfillment of many prophesies in our country,” said Elder De Hoyos, speaking of the Church president who has directed Mexico’s remarkable period of temple building.
The De Hoyos have worked hard to help the Church develop in Mexico while keeping sharp focus on the spiritual growth inside their own home. “We know the importance of families and of doing the simple, little things,” Elder De Hoyos said. “We have a clear testimony of family prayer, of family home evening, of reading the scriptures and keeping the Sabbath day holy.”
Now a grandfather, Elder De Hoyos believes young parents throughout the Church can build strong families through full participation in the program of the Church. “This builds an invisible but strong bond between parents and children. When the difficult days of adolescence come, this bond won’t be broken. Families will stay unified despite the difficulties.”
Sister De Hoyos added the home should be a place of refuge and instruction. She recommends that parents teach their children the commandments and of their divine relationship with their Heavenly Father. Even when children are grown, they can benefit from the counsel of loving parents.
Allow children to learn responsibility, she said. “If a child is able to throw toys around, he’s also able to pick them up.”
The couple add they have long enjoyed the blessings afforded full tithe payers.
“When we got married we had nothing,” Elder De Hoyos said. “But the Lord has promised in the Book of Mormon that if we keep the commandments we can prosper in the land. We knew we could keep the commandments, and the Lord has kept His promise to this day.”
As a General Authority, Elder De Hoyos now has the responsibility to help direct the welfare and development of the Church worldwide. He is humbled and eager to fulfill his new calling.
“We never thought this would happen to us, but we want to do our best.”