The Barrio Reus neighborhood in Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo is distinguished by charming, colorful homes. While covering President Russell M. Nelson’s South American Ministry on Oct. 24, 2018, I joined other members of his media team and walked down the street in front of this famous row of houses.
The men in our group were all wearing white shirts and ties and looked very much like Latter-day Saint missionaries. Seeing them, a man ran onto the street and called out to us.
“The prophet is coming to Uruguay,” he said.
He invited us to his store, where he and his wife sold baby booties. The booties came in all colors and styles.
The man, who was a member of the Church, opened a pair of pink booties shaped like little animals and placed them in my hands. Speaking in Spanish, he showed me how one ear of the baby bootie animal was a little longer than the other ear. Sensing that was important, I found a translator and asked the man’s wife about the booties.
She shared her story. When the Church dedicated the Montevideo Uruguay Temple in March 2001, Church leaders promised the couple blessings if they would attend the temple often. With a heart full of faith, the sister entered the temple three days in a row. On the third day in the temple, she saw in her mind an image of pink baby booties, fashioned after an animal that had one ear just a little longer than the other. She made the booties, sold them at her vegetable stand, and a business was born.
Today the couple is self-reliant.
A few days later I learned of another woman of great faith.
While in Concepción, Chile, I attended a luncheon with the new temple president and matron, President Joe N. and Sister Jolene Swenson. The couple had spent weeks preparing for President Nelson to dedicate the temple by calling and training temple workers — the vast majority of whom had never had the opportunity to serve in a temple.
President Swenson spoke of an older woman who met with him for an interview. She had many demands on her time, including heavy family responsibilities. After learning of her situation, President Swenson suggested she attend the temple often, as a patron and not a worker.
The woman said she could not do that. She pulled out her patriarchal blessing — received four decades earlier — and together they read the sentence that said she would serve as a temple ordinance worker in the Concepción Chile Temple. She received that blessing 30 years before President Thomas S. Monson announced a temple for Concepción and about 20 years before President Gordon B. Hinckley introduced the concept of smaller temples. In fulfillment of that blessing, she is now serving as an ordinance worker.
With faith in the Lord’s direction for her, given through an inspired patriarch, that woman is helping temple patrons access all of God’s power through priesthood covenants received in a dedicated temple.
The faith of both women was reflected in their commitment to the Savior and His Church; their lives showcase the power that comes to any who covenant to “walk in all the ordinances of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:4).
It is a power that connects families eternally and elevates generations.
A day after the luncheon in Concepción, President Nelson participated in the temple cornerstone ceremony, inviting Lilieth Rojas, 5, to put mortar in the temple cornerstone.
Vania Petit, Lilieth’s mother, could not see her child or the prophet through the cornerstone crowd, so she watched her child’s image in the viewfinder of a video camera. Just that small view meant everything to her.
Vania was a teenager living on the streets with her mother when missionaries found them and taught them the gospel. Just one generation later, the refinement that came to the family is evident in Lilieth.
Ten months before we walked the streets of the Barrio Reus neighborhood in Montevideo, President Nelson stood in the Salt Lake Temple annex and declared that ordinances and covenants of the temple are the key to happiness and weathering trouble.
“I give you my assurance that regardless of the world’s condition and your personal circumstances, you can face the future with optimism and joy if you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel,” President Nelson said.
That faith is evident in a pink baby bootie with one ear just a little longer than the other, in the realization of an inspired patriarchal blessing, and — most important — in the generations that come after each of us who covenant to follow Him.