Church History
A Chain of Conversions

A Chain of Conversions

Even before missionary work officially began in Argentina, Italian immigrant Mariana Bini dreamed that Christ’s true Church would soon be on the earth again. She would recognize it because it would have the gift of healing and the same organization as the New Testament church. She sought diligently to find this church and enlisted the aid of her friends as well as the people whose ailments she treated through prayer and herbs. In 1927, while on her way to investigate a rumor of a true church in Buenos Aires, she was killed in an accident.

Ten years later, her daughter and her granddaughter Mary Bender Olmo looked up some of Bini’s old friends. These friends told them they had found the church Bini had so longed to join and gave them a Book of Mormon. Olmo feared Joseph Smith was a false prophet, but after praying that night, she knew this was the promised church. She and her mother read all the available materials and declared they were ready for baptism. When told to learn more first, they replied they had read enough and could not wait any longer. Being baptized in a river “just like Jesus” thrilled them, although they were then evicted by their landlady for embracing their new faith.

In 1942 Olmo was called as a local missionary. After her initial six-month call ended, she extended twice to finish teaching investigators. During her second extension, Zulema Abrea and her son Ángel were baptized. Zulema herself became a very effective missionary. Her daughter-in-law commented, “She will begin a conversation on the street corner with a lady about the weather and the next Sunday that lady will be in church.”

One day, while delivering milk to a customer, 10-year-old Ángel Abrea was singing his new favorite song: “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.” His customer overheard and inquired about the song. He told her it was one they sang in church.

“Why don’t you tell me something about your church?” she asked.

His answer led her and her family to attend meetings. Often the only Latter-day Saint in his peer group, Abrea became a counselor in the district presidency at age 17. On March 20, 1981, Ángel Abrea became the first native of Argentina sustained as a General Authority Seventy.