Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has many ties to Portugal.
Her parents, Harold G. and Carol Rasmussen Hillam, presided over the Portugal Lisbon Mission. Her oldest sister Linda served in the Portugal Lisbon Mission. Sister Cordon was also called to serve in the same mission. Her son then served there several years later.
During the last month of her sister’s mission and the second month of Sister Cordon’s mission, they were companions.
“What a special and memorable experience,” she recalled. “We each had the ‘Sister Hillam’ name badge. It confused a lot of people but it opened a lot of doors. People would ask, ‘Why do you have the same name?’ and then we would talk about families.”
The new temple in Lisbon is a testimony that the Lord is aware of the people, Sister Cordon said.
“These are people who historically were discoverers, and the process of discovering or seeking is what the Portuguese people do,” she said. “And I think you will notice that the temple will be full because they are discoverers and seekers of truth.”
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Sister Cordon said she had the opportunity to visit Portugal in July. When she saw the temple, it took her breath away. She described the temple as a “beacon” for the people — people who “have hearts that aren’t afraid to share what they discover about the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Even though she wasn’t with them during the dedication, she said her heart was there.
She also spent time with youth at a For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conference in July and felt their enthusiasm of strengthening each other and seeking truth together. “That’s just the Portuguese way,” she said.
“I love Portugal and my circle of friendship there has broadened over the years. In my mind, everybody in Portugal is my friend.”