From Jay Platt: During the years 1970 to 1972, I had the privilege of serving a mission in the highlands of Guatemala in what was then called the "Indian program". I was struck with the humility of father Lehi's children but was also distressed at the conditions under which they lived out their lives.
At that time, approximately 50% of all live births were dead by age eight. Fresh vegetables were grown but instead of eaten, were taken to market for a cash income. Milk and dairy products were non-existent. Consequently, many women would lose teeth as they began their childbearing years, their bodies cannibalizing themselves for protein and calcium.
Spanish was a second language. Mayan dialects were spoken in the homes and literacy was a tremendous problem with but a precious few able to read lesson manuals or keep financial records.
While the experience made me value my own material blessings and opportunities, I found myself--in my immaturity and lacking perspective--questioning when progress would come and how the gospel could bless lives under the dire conditions that I observed.
I have not visited Guatemala since my missionary days. The account in the Church News of President Hinckley's visit thrilled me. The fact of some 50,000 members in a soccer stadium in Guatemala city to hear the Prophet stood in stark contrast to my memories of difficult conditions, though I am sure many sacrificed much to be in attendance. Such numbers were, however, a testimony to the faith and dedication of the Guatemalan saints.
Reading of the growth of the Church in Guatemala and reflecting on the fact of a temple in Guatemala City and the creation of new stakes and missions, I have been impressed with the language of D & C 58:11. Having stated that "a feast of fat things [would] be prepared for the poor" and that first "the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble" would be invited, the Lord then states,
"And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come." (Emphasis added).
I marvel at that language, revealed in 1831. The nations of Europe did receive an invitation to the Lord's feast of the gospel; however the years since 1970-72 in Guatemala have indeed been a day of His power as the gospel has changed lives and a people in a manner so dramatic that I never would have dreamed it possible.