Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela’s eyes begin to mist when he considers the many who have offered all to help the Church grow in his native Mexico.
Recently, for example, while Elder Valenzuela was serving as an Area Seventy, a humble priesthood holder was called to serve as a stake president. The man did not own a car, but stood undeterred. He promised to magnify his new calling and said he was willing to walk to his weekly Church meetings and other duties.
Then Elder Valenzuela — who was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 6 — explained that some weeks after this stake president was called, he visited his stake in order to train him in his new duties, and then he said that another humble family offered to give their only car to their new stake president so the Lord’s work could advance in their neighborhood.
“These experiences speak of the strength of the testimonies of the members of the Church,” he said.
This new General Authority said his life has long been blessed by the example and strong testimonies of others. Young Arnulfo was raised in the Mormon colonies in northern Mexico. He graduated from the Church-owned Juarez Academy. There in the colony he learned to speak English, how to testify of the gospel and how to lead others.
Such skills continue to serve him well in his latest Church calling — an assignment he accepted with great humility. “I am very happy and I feel very blessed for this calling to be able to serve the Lord on a full-time basis.”
It isn’t the first time he has served the Church 24-7. He labored in the Mexico Veracruz Mission and spent two years in that coastal region knocking on doors, teaching the gospel and baptizing new members. It was a period of study, learning and hard work. The gospel principles he embraced as a missionary have had a deep impact on his life that can still be felt today.
After his mission, educational and business opportunities took Arnulfo to Mexico City. A short time after arriving in the capital city he visited a family he had taught in Veracruz. He became acquainted with a young woman who lived next door — a pretty convert to the Church named Pilar Porras. A friendship began that would eventually grow into a courtship and marriage.
“I was impressed from the beginning by my husband’s personality and his strength in the gospel,” said Sister Valenzuela.
The couple would marry in the Mesa Arizona Temple and then return to Mexico City where they would raise three children and serve in a variety of callings. That matrimonial trip to Mesa instilled in the Valenzuelas a deep love for the temple. They remain inspired by the many accounts of fellow Mexican Saints who sold all they owned to make a costly trip to Arizona to claim eternal blessings. They rejoiced the day their nation’s first temple was dedicated in Mexico City in 1983.
“We could have never imagined that one day we would have 12 temples in Mexico with another temple under construction,” said Elder Valenzuela.
A nation with more than 1 million Latter-day Saints, Mexico has long been one of the anchors of an increasingly international Church. The Valenzuelas say their fellow countrymen and women face a variety of challenges — but many are also open to the message of the gospel.
“The Mexican people want to find God,” said Sister Valenzuela.
“We are Lamanites,” her husband noted, “and I believe the people are anxiously looking for the truth and many readily accept the gospel.”
The family, he added, defines the Church, and many Mexicans are drawn to the possibility of being able to be with their families forever through the blessings of the temple.
As a member of the Seventy, Elder Valenzuela’s responsibility now extends across the globe. He will likely find himself teaching and testifying in front of members and others throughout the world. He plans to deliver a simple message.
“Pay your tithing, read the Book of Mormon and stand in holy places.”
Family: Born May 4, 1959, in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, to Gilberto Valenzuela and Rosa Realivazquez Valenzuela. Married Silvia Pilar Porras on April 6, 1982, in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Three children: David (Liz), Gabriela (Cristian) and Maria Fernanda.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Universidad de Estudios Contables y Administrativos, Mexico City, Mexico.
Career: Worked as a manager and executive for a variety of international businesses, including Sweda, Honeywell and Durman Mexico.
Church service: Missionary in the Mexico Veracruz Mission, bishop, counselor in the Mexico Chihuahua Mission presidency, counselor in stake presidency and Area Seventy.