“Area Authority in Bolivia,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 68
Elder Mario Guzmán Padilla, Area Authority Seventy for the South America North Area, remembers being the last member of his family to accept the gospel in 1976, when he and his wife, Maria Graciela Antezana de Guzmán, were hearing missionary lessons. “When I joined the Church,” he says, “I had the advantage of receiving what the prophet today refers to as a friend, a responsibility, and being nourished by the word. I was baptized on Saturday, and on Sunday they called me to be a Sunday School teacher.” Those first few weeks were a challenge, but Elder Guzmán says that this responsibility helped him develop a testimony of the gospel.
After joining the Church, he was anxious to share the gospel with his coworkers. He carried his own filmstrip projector to work and showed filmstrips in his office, among them Man’s Search for Happiness, Johnny Lingo, and Families Can Be Forever. As a result of these early missionary efforts, three of his friends at work joined the Church. Elder Guzmán has since retired from Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano Airlines, where he concluded his career as chief of operations.
In addition to sharing the gospel message with coworkers and friends, the Guzmáns, after their baptisms, immediately began preparing to attend the temple. And one year later, they traveled to Los Angeles to be sealed in the temple on 30 April 1977. Elder and Sister Guzmán have one son and three daughters.
About two years after joining the Church, a directive from the president of Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano came out saying that all executives had to work on Sundays. “This regulation affected my religious principles,” says Elder Guzmán, “so I went to the office of the president and told him, ‘I can work until 11:45 on Saturday night, but I can’t work on Sunday. If this is not possible, you will have to do as you think best.’” The president told him they would have to let him go. Several hours later, however, the president reconsidered, and Elder Guzmán became the only executive there who did not work on Sundays.
“There is no work more wonderful or better compensated for than that of being in the service of our God and of our neighbors,” says Elder Guzmán. He credits his wife for much of the spiritual strength in their family: “My Heavenly Father has blessed me with an extraordinary companion, and as a result of her selflessness we have wonderful children who live the gospel.”