“‘A Work That Is Eternal,’” Global Histories: Mexico (2019)
“‘A Work That Is Eternal,’” Global Histories: Mexico
For the first hundred years after the first temple endowments in Nauvoo, the ceremony was performed only in English. By the 1940s, however, the growing numbers of faithful Mexican and Mexican-American members motivated Church leaders to have the endowment translated into Spanish—to be given for the first time after a special 1945 conference at the Mesa Arizona Temple. Despite the cost of the trip, many Saints in Mexico committed to attend. They saved to pay for transportation and took time off work. Church members in Arizona helped by offering food and lodging for the travelers.
At the conference, President José Gracia of the Monterrey Branch spoke of the significance of the occasion. “We have come to do a great work for ourselves and for our fathers,” he said. “The promises made to our fathers are being fulfilled in us.”
Others rejoiced to be in the presence of so many of their fellow Saints. “Before, I have considered myself an orphan,” said Saturnino Aguilar of the Ermita Mexico City Branch. “But now I see that I have plenty of brothers and sisters.”
Following the conference, on the morning of November 6, over two hundred people attended the first Spanish endowment session.
José Gracia was among those who returned the next year and resolved to maintain a tradition of temple trips each November. “I intend to be here year after year,” he said. The annual trips corresponded with Mexico’s Day of the Dead, and for many Saints attending the temple, this added to the holiday’s significance. At the 1946 temple excursion conference, Gracia recounted watching families gather to take flowers to their deceased family members. He noted, “We have gathered here in Mesa” to honor their ancestors in another way. “It is not a work that withers like those flowers, but a work that is eternal.”
Temple trips to Mesa continued for decades, until a temple was built in Mexico City. When the temple was dedicated in December 1983, the Saints were overjoyed. A member of the Tenayo Branch who attended the dedication said that with the temple’s completion “a dream for which all the Mexicans had yearned for many years has been fulfilled.”
As the Church in Mexico grew and members continued to faithfully attend the temple, more temples were constructed in the country, and members who had sacrificed to travel to Mesa and to Mexico City were able to do temple work for themselves and their ancestors closer to home. By 2015 there were temples in Mexico City, Colonia Juárez, Ciudad Juárez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Mérida, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Tampico, Tijuana, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Veracruz, and Villahermosa.