At 9,350 feet in elevation, Quito is among the highest capitals in the world, but President Russell M. Nelson wants Ecuadorian Latter-day Saints to aim even higher: heaven.
To reach that lofty destination with their families, he said, will require love at home and obedience to divine commands.
“The home must be God’s laboratory to love and serve. That’s where a husband loves his wife, a wife loves her husband, and parents and children love each other,” the 94-year-old leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told thousands of members Monday night at General Rumiñahui Coliseum in the Ecuadorian capital, according to a news release.
“Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other in a home where children are considered an inheritance of the Lord. Thanks to God’s great plan of happiness, families can stay together forever. Exaltation is a family affair.”
Latter-day Saints believe marriage and family relationships can extend into the eternities.
Nelson is halfway through a five-nation Latin American tour. This stop marked his fifth visit to Ecuador — home to nearly 250,000 Latter-day Saints and one temple, with another in the works — since the heart-surgeon-turned-faith-leader became an apostle 35 years ago.
Nelson, who met Tuesday morning with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno, is traveling with his wife, Wendy, along with apostle Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
In Monday’s devotional, Wendy Nelson encouraged members to pray for answers and invite God’s blessings.
“The heavens will open when we will persistently pray, ‘Please help me to fill the measure of my creation,’” she said. “And the heavens will continue to open as we follow through with every impression that comes to us.”
Mary Cook urged parents to love and teach their children, the release stated, even if the lessons fail at first.
“I don’t want us to get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the way we planned,” she said. “And sometimes it won’t.”
She described a family activity when the Cooks’ 3-year old son played the role of Moses, while his father was cast as pharaoh. “Moses kept saying, ‘Let my people go.’ And he kept hearing, ‘No. No. No.’ He took the law into his own hands. He punched his dad in the nose. We fell apart. But pharaoh let the children of Israel go. And that was the end of family home evening.”
Earlier Monday, the Latter-day Saint delegation visited Colombia, where the Utah-based faith’s 17th prophet-president rattled off steps members can undertake to grow closer to Christ.
“Study the scriptures as families. Pray together. Renew your baptismal covenants by regularly participating in the sacrament [the weekly communion],” Nelson advised thousands at an arena in Bogota, according to a news release. “Pay your tithes with grateful hearts. Attend the temple as often as your circumstances allow. There you can receive the blessings God has for his faithful children.”
On Saturday, the authorities were in Guatemala.
Next up: A devotional Wednesday evening at Tecnópolis Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the release noted, followed by a trek to Brazil, home to nearly 1.4 million Latter-day Saints, the most of any country after the U.S. and Mexico..
The tour wraps up Monday.