Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Fate of the Land of Promise: South America – Part III

After fifteen hundred years of Jaredite occupation in the Land Northward, a thousand years of Nephite occupation of the entire Land of Promise, then another thousand years of Lamanite civil wars, the fulfillment of prophecy (2 Nephi 1:6-7) took place with the conquistadors when “he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Nephi 1:10-11).
Perhaps in no other area of scripture can the results of a prophesy be so utterly and completely observed, than in the total destruction of the indigenous natives of Central and South America, for they were “scattered and smitten,” subjugated to a future without hope, without possible redemption until the time of the restoration. For a thousand years after their victory over the Nephites, the Lamanite people were faced with constant warfare among themselves, or as Lehi prophesied, “as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them” (2 Nephi 1:12), and then, when the Lord was ready, the end of the Lamanites was ushered in by the Spanish invasion, and the words of Mormon were also fulfilled (Mormon 3:15).
Then a period of time for the land to heal, for the new occupiers of the land to flourish, and for the final redemption of the land to take place, when the European countries were removed from their control over the Western Hemisphere, and the restoration to begin in full swing. As Mormon stated: “Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance” (Mormon 3:17).
And what work?
Official missionary work in Peru began in 1956, when former mission president Frederick S. Williams of the Uruguay Mission moved there with his family and requested permission from the First Presidency to establish a branch and begin proselyting. Six months later Elder Henry D. Moyle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the first branch in Peru, and in August of that year, four full-time missionaries entered the country, and by the end of 1959 Elder Harold B. Lee had established the Andes Mission, including Peru, Chile, and later Bolivia, with headquarters in Lima, with James Vernon Sharp the first mission president.
On 22 February 1970, Elders Gordon B. Hinckley and Theodore Tuttle created Peru’s first stake in Lima, with Roberto Vidal as president. Missionary success continued, and by 1977 Church membership in Peru reached 17,000. That year President Spencer W. Kimball visited the country, speaking to about 7,900 Saints. In addition to the Church’s proselyting efforts, welfare service missionaries extended programs to promote literacy, cancer prevention and other health care, as well as self-reliance and preparedness programs.
In January 1986 President Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, dedicated the country’s first temple in Lima, and two years later Elder M. Russell Ballard created seven new Peruvian stakes in a single weekend, bringing the country’s total to eighteen. President Hinckley visited Lima in 1996 as part of a six-nation South American tour, where he addressed 35,000 people, many of whom had traveled long distances by bus to attend. On 15 August 1998, the Church created the South America West Area, which included Peru and Bolivia, with headquarters in Lima. At the beginning of the year 2000, Peru had seven missions, and its Church membership was 333,828 with 81 stakes and 838 wards and branches.
In the Land Northward, The Republic of Ecuador, with a Spanish- and Quechua-speaking population that is 95% Roman Catholic, was introduced to the Church in 1965 when Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles sent a letter to J. Averil Jesperson, president of the Andes Mission in Lima, Peru, suggesting that missionary work be taken to Ecuador. Two weeks later four elders from Peru were sent to labor in Quito, Ecuador. At the time the Ecuador Mission was created on 1 August 1970, membership was 1,000, and by the end of 1975 it had risen to 3,226. Hundreds of members attended newly organized seminary and institute programs. The first stake was organized in Guayaquil on 11 June 1978 with Lorenzo A. Garaycoa as president. Less than a month later, a second mission was opened in Guayaquil, and at the end of 1979 membership had accelerated to 19,000.
Some of the earliest proselyting in Ecuador took place among the Otavalo Indians near Quito. Among the first baptized was Rafael Tabango, who later became the first branch president, district president, and stake patriarch in Ecuador. In 1981 the first all-Lamanite stake in South America was created from among the Otavalo Indians.
In 1989 the headquarters for the South America North Area moved to Quito from Lima, Peru. Although President Gordon B. Hinckley had announced the coming of a temple in 1982, because of pending government approvals it was not until 1996 that ground was broken by Elder Richard G. Scott. In August 1997 President Hinckley traveled to Ecuador, speaking to some 15,000 members; he was the first Church president to visit the land. On 1 August 1999 the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple was dedicated. At the beginning of the year 2000 there were 146,420 members in the country living in 32 stakes and 373 wards and branches.
In Bolivia, where the population speaks Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara, and is 95% Roman Catholic, the first missionaries that entered the country came from the Andes Mission on 24 November 1964, and within two years branches were opened in Oruro and Santa Cruz. In 1968 Carlos Pedraja the first missionary called from Bolivia was called to the Andes South Mission. He later became a stake and mission president. The Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission was organized in 1977 and was later renamed the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission. On 3 March 1977 President Spencer W. Kimball visited an area conference in La Paz that was attended by 4,373 members.
On 14 January 1979 the first stake in Bolivia was organized with Noriharu Ishigaki Haraguichi as president. The Church began sponsoring humanitarian aid projects to help members and non-Mormons throughout the country learn to improve health conditions. In 1989, after the assassination of two elders from Utah, the First Presidency decided to decrease the number of nonnative missionaries sent to Bolivia. In 1990 membership was 64,000 in the country. Ten years later at the beginning of the year 2000, there were 112,222 members living in 21 stakes and 232 wards and branches in Bolivia. On 30 April 2000 the Church dedicated the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple.
And in Chile, the first Latter-day Saints to arrive were Elder Parley P. Pratt, along with his wife Phebe, and Elder Rufus C. Allen. Because of revolutionary conditions and the missionaries’ inability to learn Spanish, they remained only a few months, leaving on 2 March 1852. The next Latter-day Saint presence did not come until the early 1950s, when the family of William Fotheringham moved to Santiago. President David O. McKay visited them there in 1954, and in 1956 Chile became part of the Argentine mission. In June of that year, Elders Joseph C. Bentley and Verle Allred arrived from Argentina, and on 25 November they baptized Ricardo Garci­a and others. The first branch was organized at Santiago on 5 June 1956 (later known as the Ñuñoa Branch). There were about 450 members in Chile in 1959 when the country became part of the new Andes Mission.
The Chilean Mission, with Delbert Palmer as president, was organized 8 October 1961 with 1,100 members. By 1972 there were 20,000 members in the country, and on 19 November Elder Gordon B. Hinckley organized the first stake at Santiago, with Carlos Cifuentes as president. That same year the Church Educational System began the seminary program in Chile and for a time operated a school in Santiago.
On 27 February 1977, President Spencer W. Kimball addressed an audience of more than 7,000. On this occasion, Elder Bruce R. McConkie prophesied that the Church would become the most powerful influence in the nation. He predicted that the existing seven stakes would become seventy times seven. The Santiago Temple was dedicated by President Hinckley in 10 sessions 15-17 September 1983. In 1996 the Chile Area was organized with F. Melvin Hammond as president and Jerald Lynn Taylor and Eduardo Lamartine as counselors. The following year the 100th stake was organized at Puerto Varas, Chile, becoming one of four nations to have 100 or more stakes. This came only 25 years after the first stake had been organized. On 23 August 1998, the land of Chile was officially dedicated by Elder M. Russell Ballard, grandson of Elder Melvin J. Ballard, who had dedicated the continent of South America three-quarters of a century earlier.
On 26 April 1999, President Hinckley presided at a conference attended by about 57,500 in a large stadium in the nation’s capital. At the beginning of the year 2000 there were 502,153 members in Chile living in 186 stakes and 1,879 wards and branches. Church members represent more than 3% of the population the highest ratio of Latter-day Saints of any country in the world outside of Polynesia.
The work Mormon prophesied would surely take place has certainly spread throughout the Andean area of South America.

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