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‘Mexico has been richly blessed,’ Elder Bednar says in nationwide devotional

As part of his nine-day ministry in Mexico, Elder David A. Bednar shares simple ways to engage in temple and family history work

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Latter-day Saints gathered in homes and chapels all over Mexico on Sunday night, Nov. 5, to participate in a nationwide devotional about temple and family history work with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Speaking of the increasing number of houses of the Lord being built and the improvements in technology that have accelerated family history work, Elder Bednar said, “This is a mighty miracle.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints line up prior to attending a devotional given by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about serving in the house of the Lord and doing family history work.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints line up prior to attending a devotional given by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Mexico City, Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Bednar was joined by his wife, Sister Susan K. Bednar, during a nine-day ministry trip to Mexico. The two of them also spoke at a stake conference in Toluca earlier in the day.

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Six others participated in Sunday evening’s panel discussion about temple and family history work that was broadcast to Latter-day Saint meetinghouses across Mexico. A live audience of more than 2,100 attended the event in the multistake center located next to the Mexico City Mexico Temple.

Elder Hugo Montoya, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Mexico Area, and his wife, Sister Carmen Montoya, and Elder Sean Douglas, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Mexico Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Ann Douglas, joined Elder and Sister Bednar on stage. The meeting was conducted by Elder Carlos Torres, an Area Seventy, who was joined by his wife, Sister Marisol Torres.

Living up to expectations

“Mexico has been richly blessed by the announcement and construction of so many houses of the Lord,” Elder Bednar said of the country’s 24 temples. “This is a great blessing that also brings a requirement to properly prepare and worthily make sacred covenants and worship in the house of the Lord. We need to help each successive generation become more focused on the Father’s plan of happiness, Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, and the role of Christ in the Father’s plan.”

Elder David A. Bednar and Sister Susan K. Bednar hold their phones and demonstrate how to create a photo and video file in the FamilySearch Memories app.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center, and his wife, Sister Susan K. Bednar, demonstrate how to create a photo and video file in the FamilySearch Memories app in Mexico City, Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Bednar encouraged those who live near present and future houses of the Lord to attend regularly.

“We cannot take this blessing for granted,” he said of the increasing numbers of temples being constructed both in Mexico and around the world.

At the same time, he cautioned against becoming too concerned with the precise locations, size or appearance of any house of the Lord. “We worship in the building; we do not worship the building,” Elder Bednar said.

Strengthening the rising generation

The focus on covenants and obedience to commandments as a way to draw closer to Heavenly Father was a point Elder Bednar made repeatedly in the meeting. He specifically spoke to the youth and young adults about the opportunities they have to serve in the temple. Young adults need opportunities to serve in the houses of the Lord around the world both before and after they serve missions, Elder Bednar said.

“Put them to work. Let them serve,” he said to local Church leaders.

Sister Bednar said one of her teenage granddaughters attends the temple each week.

“They need to go as often as possible,” she said of the youth. “The peace that they feel in the temple brings them peace in a troubled, troubled world.”

Elder Bednar said that many young people spend a great deal of time on their digital devices.

“They live in a world that can be very lonely,” he said. “… But they want to belong. The greatest remedy for feeling alone is family history and discovering where you came from.”

Improved focus on the Savior

Elder Bednar was asked how Latter-day Saints in Mexico could prepare children and youth to worship inside the temple.

“A Primary child should hear the phrase ‘house of the Lord’ more than he or she hears ‘temple,’” Elder Bednar said.

A young man waits to participate in a devotional in Mexico City.
A young man waits to participate in a devotional about serving in the house of the Lord and doing family history work, given by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Mexico City, Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

He explained that this can help take the focus away from the building and put it on the Savior. He compared this shift to President Russell M. Nelson’s encouragement to always include the Savior when speaking about His Atonement.

“We should not separate the Atonement from Jesus Christ,” Elder Bednar said. “We can be focused on important things but still miss the ultimate mark.”

Learning by example

Alejandra De Orbe Mascarua from the Hospital Branch of the Cuautla Mexico Zapata Stake has been a member of the Church for two years. This was her first opportunity to attend a meeting with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“This was something amazing to me to see an Apostle,” she said. “To know that he is aware of the situations that we face every day — even when it comes to doing our family history work — it was good to hear him guiding us through something that he has had to navigate in his life.”

Mascarua was referencing Elder Bednar’s story of searching for his own ancestors and needing the help of others who had more experience than he did. Elder Bednar said one of the ways to make family history work easier for future generations is to record information in the FamilySearch Memories app.

In a demonstration on stage, Elder Bednar used his phone to take a photo of Sister Bednar and then record her giving the answers to basic questions about her parents. He encouraged Saints in Mexico to use the same feature in order to record their memories and knowledge as a way to help connect all of Heavenly Father’s children to one another.

The Mexico City Mexico temple on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
The Mexico City Mexico temple on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. | Leslie Nilsson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mascarua said that she has not done a lot of her own family history work and that she felt a “spiritual zap” when Elder Bednar spoke of the need to record personal family histories in his challenging Slovakian line.

“I know I need to get to work and find my ancestors,” she said. “I want to be able to leave that for my children and for others who will come after us.”

Gaining broader vision

As the elders quorum president in the Chalco Ward of the Chalco Mexico Stake, Sergio Cortés Rodriguez knows that he has responsibilities pertaining to temple and family history work in his ward.

“Elder Bednar gave us a broader vision,” Cortés said after the event. “Like he said, many of us would have loved to see the Red Sea open, but the miracle that we are seeing happen right now is perhaps even bigger than that.”

Elder Bednar encouraged Latter-day Saints to have a 10,000-foot or 35,000-foot view of what is happening and where they are going.

Three siblings who attended together from the Castellanos Perea family each shared how that affected their perspective and goals.

“I felt that I should serve a mission,” said Kitzya Castellanos Perea, the oldest of the three siblings. More than that impression, she said she felt the strong desire to live worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship.

“I know that will continue to motivate me to do more family history work and keep taking names of my family members to the temple,” she said.

Her brother, Abinadí, said he didn’t hear anything new from Elder Bednar but that he felt something that told him what he heard was true.

Their Primary-age sister, Kiara, shared her enthusiasm to serve a mission and be sealed in the temple after serving.

“I want to be able to share the love that I feel for Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father,” the 10-year-old said.

Kitzya said she knows she will need to prioritize her time better to do more family history work, but she said she knows it will bring blessings for her and the family members whose ordinances she can do in the temple.

Elder Bednar encouraged Latter-day Saints of all ages to recognize that “prophets have looked forward to this remarkable season in which we live.” As a consequence, Elder Bednar invited all who participated in the devotional to return home Sunday night and pray without asking Heavenly Father for anything.

“Simply express your thanks for living today.”

Church in Mexico

Elder Montoya shared with the devotional’s attendees that some members of the Church in Mexico still travel up to 12 hours to worship and serve in a house of the Lord. But he said there is still more to do to help connect families through the 200 million names available to have ordinances done in the temple.

“What we ask is that everyone have at least four generations identified [in their personal family tree],” he said. “What this will do is automatically give individuals names to use in the temple and will build our overall family tree.”

Elder Douglas tied together Elder Montoya’s invitation with Elder Bednar’s demonstration of the Memories app and explained that artificial intelligence will help connect individuals to unknown parts of their own family tree when they upload their own images and audio recordings. 

“The culture of loving ancestors already exists in Mexico,” Elder Douglas said. “And by engaging in this work, we can make an enormous difference.”

The 24 houses of the Lord in operation or announced for Mexico will serve the country’s 1.5 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In December, members of the Church will commemorate 40 years since the dedication of the first temple in the country — the Mexico City Mexico Temple.

With last week’s announcement of 36 new missions to be created around the world next year, Mexico will have an additional two missions in the country — the Mexicali mission near Mexico’s border with California and Arizona, and the Puebla East mission, to the southeast of Mexico City. 

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