From his childhood in Mexico, Elder Sandino Roman knows the gospel brings happiness, hope

‘I know the product, I’ve seen the end result that the gospel brings into lives,’ says the new General Authority Seventy

Elder Sandino Roman knows firsthand the metamorphosis the gospel of Jesus Christ can render in lives and in families.

Elder Roman, who was sustained as a new General Authority Seventy during April 2024 general conference, grew up in the city of Iguala in southwestern Mexico.

At that time, his family was not immune to the worldly influences or destructive habits that surrounded them, he said.

When he was 5 years old, however, a friend of his mother began taking him and his sister every Sunday to meet with 15 other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a small meetinghouse in Iguala in the state of Guerrero.

Elder Roman has fond memories of going to church there. “I had barely started learning how to read, and the members helped me to write my testimony,” he recalled.

For two years, young Elder Roman prayed for his family to join the Church. Finally, his father, Prometeo Roman, who was less inclined to embrace the gospel, had some experiences that softened his heart. He and Elder Roman’s mother, Lidia Corral, decided to be baptized.

“For that reason, I know that the Lord hears children’s prayers,” said Elder Roman.

The gospel of Jesus Christ was both a “major blessing” and a “significant transition” for his family. Suddenly they were having family prayer, learning how to conduct home evening and being given opportunities to serve in the Church. Elder Roman’s father was soon called as branch president, and when young Elder Roman turned 8, his father was the one to baptize him.

In 1983, when the Mexico City Mexico Temple was dedicated, his family was sealed together. Obeying the commandments and making covenants with God helped them live better lives, Elder Roman said.

Serving the Lord had a transformative effect, not only on his family but on him as well. “I know the product, I’ve seen the end result that the gospel brings into lives,” Elder Roman said. “I know it brings happiness and hope.”

Map showing the location of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, where new General Authority Seventy Elder Sandino Roman was born.
Map showing the location of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. | Church News graphic

Learning faith

When he thinks about the people and experiences which have most influenced his faith, Elder Roman is quick to speak of his mother.

“My mother’s love and testimony was key,” he noted, adding that she is a woman who is “full of faith.”

Before his mother ever joined the Church, she was guided by the 13th article of faith, Elder Roman said — “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

Lidia Corral grew up in a remote area in the mountains. No one in her family knew how to read or write, but as a child she realized “there had to be a better way of living,” Elder Roman said.

At the time, girls were not encouraged to get an education, but at age 14 she begged her parents’ permission and began to get an elementary education. Through hard work and a strong will, she earned a degree and became a teacher.

When she joined the Church, she fully embraced the many programs of the Church, which she recognized as a way to continue to learn, develop and progress.

While on his mission, Elder Roman — who served in the México Torreón Mission — wrote to his parents of his desire to go to college. “She took the charge just upon herself to get enough money for me to get educated,” he said of his mother.

She wrote to the president of the Mexican Republic and other government leaders, the Department of Education, the Rotary Club and anyone else she could think of to see if they would provide a scholarship for her son. “Obviously, everybody declined,” Elder Roman said. But she persisted.

Eventually, the governor of the State of Guerrero came to their hometown to inaugurate one of the streets for pavement. She wrote out a petition for a scholarship and found a way to get in front of him during the ceremony. “He was embarrassed, I’d say,” Elder Roman related, “but he took the pen she gave him and signed the petition.”

She immediately took the signed petition to the public education office, and Elder Roman was granted a scholarship when he returned from his mission.

Halfway through his undergraduate degree, however, the governor changed and the scholarship was revoked. Elder Roman came home and essentially told his mother, “Well, that was good while it lasted, but we don’t have enough money for me to continue there.”

His mother looked at him and replied, “Didn’t you learn anything about faith on your mission? You are not going to quit studying there, even if you need to take one credit at a time.”

So Elder Roman found a full-time job and continued at the university, taking one course at a time.

Elder Roman said his mother taught him that to have faith “we need to always keep finding ways to solve things out and trust the Lord in every situation.”

Today, at age 84, his mother continues to be a dynamic missionary. She often spends two to three hours a day with the missionaries, helping to teach the gospel.

Sister Roman said her mother-in-law teaches “not only by word but by example to put Christ in the center of our lives.”

Education and family

When Elder Roman was 13 he left home to attend the Church-owned Benemérito de las Américas high school in Mexico City. While playing on a volleyball team, he met Guadalupe “Lupita” Villanueva Rojas.

Years later, following his two-year mission, the two reconnected in an institute class. He was working on his undergraduate degree at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and she was working on a master’s degree. Although they were studying at different schools, they attended the same ward and were both studying computer science.

“I needed a good study partner,” Elder Roman said with a smile.

Both were busy working full time and going to school. They dated casually until Elder Roman traveled the nine hours to Lupita’s hometown to ask her parents’ permission to be in a formal relationship with their daughter.

Four months after Lupita officially became his girlfriend, Elder Roman knew he wanted to marry her. A little more than one year later, the two were married civilly in Veracruz and sealed the next day in the Mexico City Mexico Temple on Dec. 19, 1998.

Elder Sandino Roman and Sister Guadalupe Villanueva Rojas. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

With both of them working full time, Elder Roman was able to start taking more classes and completed his bachelor’s degree in 2000. By the time he was accepted to the MBA program at Brigham Young University, Elder and Sister Roman had three young children.

Moving his family to Provo, Utah, for his master’s degree was “a big blessing for us,” Elder Roman said. Not only did it open doors professionally, but it also enabled them to improve their English and see different perspectives, including how to lead in the Church and to live the gospel.

For many years, Elder and Sister Roman tried for more children. Finally, seven years after their third child was born, Sister Roman gave birth to a baby boy, whom they named Samuel because “he was a gift from God.”

Elder Roman noted that in their new calling, they are being asked to consecrate themselves full time to the Lord’s service. Unlike his older siblings — who are all in different stages of pursuing their college education at BYU — Samuel will be accompanying his parents wherever they are assigned. “Like Samuel the prophet, he’s learning as a child about sacrifice and serving the Lord,” Sister Roman said.

As a family they love to go on road trips or to spend time together doing simple things, like campfires in the backyard, playing board games or movie nights with pizza.

More opportunities to trust in the Lord

After completing his MBA, Elder Roman accepted a job as a marketing manager at Johnson & Johnson. Although it was a “good position,” Elder and Sister Roman felt it was not going to allow them to both thrive and serve. After prayerful consideration, they decided to quit the job and start their own company distributing medical devices.

It was also during this time — soon after Elder Roman quit and the family lost medical insurance — that Sister Roman discovered she was pregnant with Samuel.

After several months, with their savings dwindling, the company was still not making money. Elder Roman doubted their decision. Sister Roman, however, told him, “Let’s give it one more month. We need to trust the Lord.”

Despite knowing they would run out of savings, Elder Roman agreed. And the next month, things began to improve.

Elder Roman noted that individuals often want constant assurances or to hold on to a lifeline instead of fully submerging into what the Lord has asked them to do. “But that is not really faith,” he said. “Faith starts when you have nothing else to hold on to.”

Since 2022, Elder and Sister Roman have been serving as the leaders of the Ecuador Quito North Mission, an experience Sister Roman described as both “wonderful and intense.”

“It is wonderful to see how the Lord takes everyone who is willing to serve and He changes lives,” she said.

Just as he and his family were changed by living the gospel, Elder Roman said he’s seen how missionaries are transformed as they become immersed in the work of the Lord. “I suppose the Lord could do this work way faster, way easier than sending out 18-year-old boys, but in the process He’s acquiring their souls,” Elder Roman observed.

As a father and as a mission leader, Elder Roman has tried to underscore the need for trust, also known as faith. Throughout his life, Elder Roman has learned for himself that he can trust his Savior. “I consider Him a friend. I felt His love for me, for my family and for our missionaries.”

Wherever he serves — including in this new calling — Elder Roman said his main goal is to earn the trust of the Lord. “I want Him to know He can trust me to do this work.”

Elder Sandino Roman

Family: Born on Aug. 7, 1973, in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, to Prometeo Roman and Lidia Corral. Married Guadalupe Villanueva Rojas in Veracruz, Mexico, on Dec. 18, 1998; they were sealed in the Mexico City Mexico Temple the next day. They are the parents of four children.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in computer systems from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in 2000 and a Master of Business Administration from Brigham Young University in 2006.

Employment: Marketing manager for Johnson & Johnson; business owner; manager of the Church’s Mexico Area Support Services Office.

Church service: President of the Ecuador Quito North Mission, Area Seventy, high councilor, stake presidency counselor, bishop, elders quorum president and missionary in the México Torreón Mission.

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