It rained and rained in the hours and days before Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, arrived to participate in missionary meetings and a stake conference in Resistencia, Argentina.
Water filled the streets and ran down the sidewalks. Latter-day Saints had not seen this kind of flood in 34 years. But it didn’t stop them from attending the meetings.
They “rolled up their trousers and skirts and came,” said Elder Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The meetings — “a very visual reflection of the faithfulness of the Saints,” some who traveled many hours “in very difficult conditions” — were part of a trip April 18-29 to the Church’s South America South Area.
“Wherever the Andersens went, they greeted the members in a very loving and personal way,” said Elder Mark A. Bragg, General Authority Seventy. “I was with them in Resistencia during a torrential storm and flooding. It was amazing to see people wading through water — at places waist-deep — to get to the chapel to hear Elder and Sister Andersen speak.”
Located in northern Argentina on the border of Paraguay, Resistencia is home to faithful, humble, hardworking Latter-day Saints, hit hard by difficult economic times in their country.
“They came to hear the words of a prophet, seer and revelator to bring them comfort, to give them hope and to provide guidance,” continued Elder Bragg. “They came despite very difficult travel circumstances and left having received the spiritual experience that they were hoping to have. It was an amazing sight to see the Saints so spiritually full after the meetings as they headed back out into rough weather.”
Traveling with Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Maria Teixeira, the Andersens met with government and religious leaders, conducted a review of the South America South Area, held a mission leadership training session and addressed members and missionaries in Argentina and Chile. They were accompanied by the South America South Area Presidency — Elder Benjamín De Hoyos, Elder Bragg and Elder Juan Pablo Villar.
“The Church in the South America South Area is vibrant,” said Elder Teixeira. “It is growing. We have a growing number of people attending sacrament meeting and a growing number of convert baptisms.”
The visit took place just a few months after the Oct. 28, 2018, dedication of the Concepcion Chile Temple. “The area is experiencing an incredible moment of growth,” said Elder Teixeira.
Themes emerged from Elder and Sister Andersen’s counsel to the members — including self-reliance, the importance of education and helping the youth progress on the covenant path.
“In his teachings throughout the area, Elder Andersen emphasized the teachings of President Nelson and how we enter and stay on the covenant path,” said Elder Villar. “He spoke in Spanish to the members, which allowed them to feel that he was speaking directly to them and endeared him to the congregations. He spoke of personal revelation, strengthening marriages and families, and how we can ‘do better and be better.’ “
A highlight of the visit was a meeting with Alfredo Moreno, Chile’s minister of social and family development.
Elder De Hoyos said the leaders spoke to the minister about “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and the Church’s humanitarian efforts in Chile. “He was very gracious in his praise for the Church and very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet personally with Elder Andersen. They made an immediate connection.”
Elder Bragg called the government meeting positive and said Minister Moreno asked what the Church does to support the family and the needy in society. “A meeting that was supposed to last 20 to 30 minutes lasted an hour and a half,” he said. “There was a great discussion and sharing of ideas.”
“What struck me was how interested Minister Moreno was in the calling of an apostle,” said Elder Villar. “He asked a few times what an apostle was and what were his functions. It was great to see it all explained to him by an apostle of the Lord.”
Elder Andersen and Elder Teixeira also participated in an interfaith meeting in Chile.
“With all the differences we have, we all believe in God, a Supreme Being,” said Elder Andersen.
He said in many countries in the world, more and more people are not feeling accountable to God. “The choices in life are not between wealth and poverty, fame and obscurity,” he said. “The choices in life are between good and evil.”
Also during the trip, Elder Andersen and Elder Teixeira held a mission leadership training session with mission presidents and their wives in Santiago and Vina del Mar, Chile, that was recorded and shared with every mission leadership couple in the area.
They taught about the importance of working with members and inviting friends to “Come and See”, “Come and Help” and “Come and Stay.” They instructed on inviting more people to Church meetings, setting mission goals and working better with local leaders to accelerate missionary work.