Elder Dale G. Renlund’s recent travels to Mexico and several Caribbean nations offered the recently called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles an opportunity to be with Latter-day Saints from a wide swath of cultures, languages and regions.
He returned to Church headquarters following his 10-day trip (Jan. 21-31) inspired and uplifted by the capacity, devotion and consecration of the members, missionaries and local priesthood and auxiliary leaders he visited.
“They are fabulous Saints,” he said.
Elder Renlund’s travels began in the Dominican Republic and continued through the nations of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago before concluding in Mexico. He was joined by his wife, Sister Ruth Lybbert Renlund, and, at various stops, by Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy and Bishop Gérald Caussé, the Presiding Bishop, along with their wives, Sister Nancy Maynes and Sister Valérie Caussé.
During their trip, the Brethren presided over missionary meetings, Priesthood Leadership Conferences, youth devotionals and member meetings. Meanwhile, the wives of the General Authorities conducted several leadership meetings for the Relief Society sisters.
Elder Renlund, Elder Maynes and Bishop Caussé also conducted an area review of the Caribbean Area in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They were assisted by the Caribbean Area Presidency — Elder J. Devn Cornish, Elder Claudio D. Zivic and Elder Hugo E. Martinez of the Seventy. Also participating in several events in the Caribbean were the wives of the Area Presidency — Sister Elaine Cornish, Sister Dina Zivic and Sister Nuria Martinez.
“The area review went very well,” Elder Renlund told the Church News. “We were very impressed by the quality and devotion of the Church employees.”
The Caribbean trip also afforded the Brethren key opportunities to meet and build friendships with local civic and religious leaders. While in the Dominican Republic, Elder Renlund enjoyed a visit with Monsignor Victor Masalles, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Santo Domingo.
Monsignor Masalles “is a wonderful man,” he said. “He told me what unites us is greater than what separates us.”
Elder Maynes, meanwhile, joined Dominican Republic Vice President Margarita Cedeno for the unveiling of a national youth project organized with the assistance of the Church. (See accompanying report.)
Following his various assignments in the Dominican Republic, Elder and Sister Renlund and Elder and Sister Martinez traveled to the Caribbean nations of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago for missionary and member meetings.
Those countries are writing their maiden chapters of Church history. Still, Elder Renlund was enthused with the growth, dedication and abilities of the members and their leaders. For example, more than 700 people attended a district devotional in the Guyanan capital, Georgetown, including several prominent government leaders.
Elder and Sister Maynes, meanwhile, flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to participate in a missionary meeting and a devotional for young single adults on Jan. 28. Elder Renlund said their counsel at each meeting focused on the specific needs and circumstances of their many audiences. In Trinidad, for example, the apostle spoke on the importance of preparing for the temple. In Guyana, he challenged members to find joy in their Church membership.
“I told them that the gospel gives them access to the greatest gifts God can give,” he said.
Elder Maynes said he enjoyed serving alongside Elder Renlund and Bishop Caussé in the Caribbean.
“We had the great opportunity to meet with many leaders, missionaries and members of the Church in many countries of this very diverse area of the Church,” he said. “Experiencing firsthand the faith and devotion of the wonderful Saints in this area of the world strengthens my understanding and witness of how the Lord blesses the lives of all His children as they embrace His gospel plan and stay true to their covenants.”
Following their travels in the Caribbean Area, Elder Renlund, Elder Maynes and Bishop Caussé and their wives spent a weekend (Jan. 29-31) in Mexico. They met with hundreds of leaders, missionaries and members in Léon, Queretaro and Aguascalientes, Mexico. They were accompanied by Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Mexico Area Presidency and his wife, Sister Lisa Pieper.
During the meetings, Elder Renlund commented how unusual it is to have a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, a General Authority Seventy and multiple Area Seventies in one meeting to teach and train.
Elders and sisters of the Mexico Aguascalientes Mission were trained and taught by Elder Renlund and Bishop Caussé. As in other missionary meetings, Elder Renlund thanked the missionaries for their service. Elder Renlund and the other visitors answered many questions posed by the missionaries.
“Those experiences with the missionaries were absolutely joyful,” he said. Throughout his travels, the apostle also met several senior missionary couples. Each couple was performing an invaluable service. “Senior missionaries are the glue that can keep things together.”
Stake presidencies and bishops from the Queretaro and Aguascalientes coordinating councils were also instructed by Elder Renlund, Elder Maynes, Elder Pieper, Bishop Caussé and two Area Seventies, Elders Jose Pineda and Elder Alfredo Mirón. The focus of the meeting was how to best lead the Saints in Mexico.
The question was asked, “What are the three most important concerns the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have for Mexico and what would they would counsel Mexicans to do?”
Elder Renlund responded that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve rely heavily on the Area Presidency to travel throughout the country and to receive the revelation for the specific needs of Mexico.
As in other trainings with the sisters, the wives of the visiting authorities led a training meetings for auxiliary leaders from the same coordinating councils. They discussed the importance of working together as auxiliaries and the interrelationship of each auxiliary in the work of salvation for members.
“We spoke about working together as women, noting that the organizations are meant to build upon each other,” said Sister Renlund. “Primary provides basic outlines for teaching and understanding gospel principles, the Young Women organization builds on that, and all those are applicable to Relief Society.
Elder Renlund, Elder Pieper and Bishop Caussé also held a devotional for members in the Léon Stake, while Elder Maynes traveled to Aguascalientes for a meeting with the youth and young single adults.
On Jan. 31, Elder Renlund presided over a special stake meeting for the Queretaro Mexico Stake. A major focus of his teaching was of preparing for and participating in the blessings of the sacrament. He taught: “Remembering what God has done for us and making covenants to keep His commandments and remembering Him is what should happen in sacrament meeting each week. When we partake of the sacrament we are showing our willingness to take upon us His name, willing to always remember what Christ has done for us, keep His commandments, and then we can always have His spirit with us. If we approach sacrament like baptism, as we renew our baptism covenants through sacrament, Christ renews the cleansing effects of baptism.
“Ruth and I very much enjoyed our time in the Caribbean and Mexico,” said Elder Renlund. “We were uplifted by the faith and devotion of the many members that we met there. It was a wonderful visit and we look forward to returning at some point in the future.”