Guatemala is the home for large numbers of native Indians. More than half of the Guatemalans are Indians, the majority Quiche Mayans. In 1953, the missionaries went to the village of Totonicapan to preach the gospel.
In the village of Totonicapan, the missionaries found a poor, young Indian sitting in his lean-to. His name was Fermin Chuk. He told the missionaries that some time ago a stranger had come to his door and taught principles and told him that soon missionaries would come into Totonicapan to teach him the gospel. He readily accepted the gospel.
On another occasion, an open-air street meeting was held on a plaza next to the market in Totonicapan. Elder R.J. Daviess made arrangements for the meeting. About 6-8 missionaries came to help with the meeting including President and Sister Romney, their eleven-year-old son Gordy, Elder Toby Pingree, Elder Elwood Taylor, Elder Raul Rodriguez, and others. The street meeting was opened by singing a hymn and offering a prayer. A crowd quickly assembled and soon the corner was crowded. Elder Daviess stood on a box and spoke for 10-15 minutes. President Romney next spoke, followed by Elder Pingree. They spoke about the Book of Mormon.
In the audience was a large impressive looking native named Lorenzo. He was dressed in a short black wool outfit. His legs were bare and he wore sandals. After the meeting, he approached the missionaries and said, "I want that book. It is the truth. I am a scribe for my tribe. I want to take this book to my people this afternoon." He promised to return the next day to another meeting to be held by the missionaries. This he did, making a forty-kilometer trip on foot.
In 1956, Elder Milton R. Hunter of the Seventy wrote to the new mission president, Edgar L. Wagner, expressing the desire interview some of the old Quiche Maya Indians at Totonicapan. Elder Hunter went to Totonicapan and, with the help of an missionary interpreter, interviewed a man named Jesus Caranza Juarez. As Mr. Juarez spoke about marriage customs, he explained that the Quiche Mayans married not only for this life but for the next world also. He explained that this tradition had been handed down from their ancestors. On the following day, Elder Hunter attended Quiche Mayan religious service. I noticed that twelve men were in front presiding over the service. He asked their native guide who those twelve men were. The guide replied: "They are the twelve high priests who are in charge of the Quiche Maya religion." Elder Hunter asked why the number was twelve. The answer he received was: "Custom, tradition!" The guide explained that the twelve men were the best men that could be found among his people.
Elder Hunter later testified: "I believe the day will come when missionary work will go forth with much power and success among this people. At that time we shall see results similar to those which we read about in the Book of Mormon when the sons of King Mosiah did such phenomenal work among the Lamanites. Eventually the day of the Lamanites will come when all of the predictions regarding them made by the holy prophets and recorded in the Book of Mormon will be fulfilled. It is my opinion that at that time thousands and thousands of the Quiche Maya Indians will join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will become valiant in the faith." (Conference Report, April 1956)