1979
First Paraguayan Stake Organized
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“First Paraguayan Stake Organized,” Ensign, Apr. 1979, 77

First Paraguayan Stake Organized

The first stake of the Church in the tropical Latin American country of Paraguay was organized February 25.

President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, presided and spoke at the organization of the Asuncion Paraguay Stake. Some 3,000 members of the Church live within the country, with more than 2,000 in Asuncion, the capital city. The stake was formed from eleven branches. One district remains under mission direction.

The Church in Paraguay has baptized record numbers of converts since the Paraguay Asuncion Mission opened in June 1977. For the three years prior to the opening of the mission, while the country was in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, an average of 211 persons were baptized per year. In the first full year of the Paraguayan mission, 400 converts were baptized. Within the next six months, 269 were baptized.

The 80 missionaries in Paraguay, some one-third of whom are Latin Americans, are meeting the challenge of teaching a bilingual people. People living in Asuncion speak Spanish, but the further they live from Asuncion, the more likely they are to speak Guarani, an Indian language. In the country’s interior, some people know only Guarani—“so to reach the masses of the country, we’ll have to know Guarani,” says Mission President Mearl K. Bair. The missionary lessons are being translated into Guarani by Paraguayan Saints.

Members of the Church in Paraguay have been preparing for the organization of the stake. Through an extensive building program, each of the eleven branches that became wards either had “a nice building” constructed or had one in some phase of construction or planning. “All will be well housed in the very near future,” says President Bair.

This is not the only sacrifice the Paraguayan Saints, “a humble, spiritual people,” has made. They exceeded their quota for donations to the Sao Paulo, Brazil, temple fund, and many sacrificed to attend the temple dedication and area conference in 1978. Now, “they sacrifice greatly to attend the temple and to send their missionaries on missions,” says President Bair.

Members in Paraguay participate in a full range of Church programs, including Primary, Relief Society, seminary, and institute. “Quite a number of people have had their patriarchal blessings,” says President Bair. “I feel they have been well prepared to become a stake.”