“Elder Julio E. Dávila Of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1991, 102
When Julio Dávila first met LDS missionaries in 1968, he resisted becoming involved with the Church.
But no one in his native Colombia who knows Elder Julio Dávila today would doubt his commitment to the gospel. When he was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on 6 April 1991, he saw the call as simply extending his responsibility to share the gospel over a wider area.
In the beginning, he was annoyed when missionaries pressed him to study the gospel. But he could not bring himself to refuse their visits because of the spirit he felt when they were present.
Then there was tithing. He told his wife his salary would not stretch to cover it. But he knew the gospel was true. He and his wife talked off and on for most of one sleepless night about whether they should be baptized. Finally, early in the morning, they knelt and prayed about it. Then he was able to fall asleep. But he had a dream in which he saw a hand writing figures on a blackboard—his salary, then the cost of unnecessary expenses. What he could eliminate added up to more than one-tenth of his income.
He told the missionaries that after his baptism, he would not be called “Brother,” would not take part in missionary work, and would not accept a calling. But then a suggestion he made brought him responsibility in the branch even before his baptism, and soon “Brother Dávila” was enthusiastically sharing the gospel with others. He has since helped bring many people into the Church.
His sense of humor helps break the ice with others, says his wife, Mary. “He is very spiritual,” and very sensitive to others’ needs, she adds.
Julio Enrique Dávila was born a son of Julio Dávila and Ana Rita Penaloza on 23 May 1932 in Bucaramanga, Colombia, but grew up in Cartagena. He graduated from college and then moved to Bogotá, where he worked for the next several years in the publishing industry. At one time, he had a printing/public relations/advertising business.
In Bogotá, he became acquainted with a neighbor, Mary Zapata, whom he considered especially attractive. They were married on 23 May 1958.
They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1973. The Dávilas’ trip to Utah was a gift from a friend of a friend in the travel industry; the donor, who did not know them, stipulated that the couple must tell no one and have no contact with him. Years later, however, Brother Dávila spent some time with the man in a business setting. The man asked President Dávila repeatedly, “Who are you? I feel I’m so much better when I’m with you.” Finally, President Dávila explained how much the trip had meant to him and his wife. The man, who felt he had not done enough good in his life, was deeply touched that God would use Brother Dávila to remind him of his own generosity.
Later, the Dávilas were sealed to their two daughters. The eldest, Liana, lives in Bogotá, and the youngest, Maritza (McKee), lives in Bountiful, Utah. The Dávilas have two grandchildren.
Beginning in 1972, Brother Dávila worked as a volunteer and then as a part-time employee for the Church Educational System until he accepted a full-time position in 1973. Except for three years when he presided over the Colombia Cali Mission (1981–84), he has been involved in CES administration in South America since that time.
He has also been a branch president, a counselor in a district presidency, a district president, a stake president, and a regional representative (twice).
He says his wife has been a great strength to him because of her intelligence and wisdom. Whenever it is possible, he asks her counsel. “When I don’t,” he adds, smiling, “I go wrong. But she never says, ‘I told you so!’”
Does he feel ready for added responsibility in his new calling?
“I have felt a great responsibility in all of my callings,” Elder Dávila replies. “The level isn’t important.” Receiving a new Church assignment, he says, is not a signal that one has arrived at some new spiritual stature, but a call to get to work. For that, he is ready.