Appendix 2

Justin R. Bray and Reid L. Neilson, eds., Exploring Book of Mormon Lands: The 1923 Latin American Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2014), 291–293.

Appendix 2

Report to the First Presidency on Missionary Possibilities in Latin America

By Andrew Jenson

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Historian’s Office
47 E. South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah
July 11, 1923

 

President Heber J. Grant and Counselors,

Salt Lake City.[1]

Dear Brethren:

            On my recent tour to Central and South America, I visited eleven different countries, namely Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, and while traveling I also obtained important information concerning other countries near the line of my journeyings, including Honduras, British Honduras, and Costa Rica in Central America, and Venezuela, Columbia, Paraguay, and Ecuador in South America, and the West Indies. There are altogether in America twenty Latin republics, so called, besides a few other countries or political divisions immediately under the control of European powers. In all these countries the Spanish language is the prevailing tongue, with the exception of Brazil, where the Portuguese is the national tongue, though Spanish is understood there also by most of the inhabitants. Latin America has altogether nearly ninety-five million people, of whom nearly one-half are Indians, or Indians mixed with Spanish blood, and some mixtures also with other nationalities. Though the Roman Catholic religion prevails in nearly all parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America, and on many of the islands in the West Indies, there is perfect religious liberty in all, and I have reason to believe that, at least in some of the republics in both Central and South America, Latter-day Saint missionaries would be well-received, as quite a number of the inhabitants are fully aware that the restrictions which have been placed upon them in the centuries gone by on the part of the dominant Church (Roman Catholic) are not desirable, nor satisfactory, as to results, and they would, I think, welcome messengers who could declare unto them the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I need not draw your attention to the fact that any of our missionaries with a knowledge of the Spanish language could preach in all parts of Latin America. While traveling I made diligent inquiries concerning religious liberty and among others conversed with some Salvation Army people who had labored successfully in some of the South American republics. As a rule the representatives of the Salvation Army, though practically opposed to the Roman Catholics, were meeting with success among the people and have already been the means of creating a sentiment for better morals and a higher degree of civilization in general. Knowing, as I do, that the Lord has commanded the Latter-day Saints to preach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, I deem it my duty or privilege to draw the attention of the First Presidency of the Church to conditions in these different countries as I found them in my travels. I only had the privilege of delivering a very few lectures in the English and Danish languages as I traveled along, but these were listened to with rapt attention by those who heard me, and had I been able to speak the Spanish language, I certainly would not have hesitated to testify to the people among whom I traveled of the restored Gospel, and especially when I realized that so many of the inhabitants are descendants of the House of Israel, either pure Lamanites, and perhaps some Nephites, and many others of mixed blood.

The following list of Latin American republics will give you an approximation of the population in the different countries mentioned:

Argentina

South America

about

8,000,000

Bolivia

     "       "

    "

3,000,000

Brazil

     "       "

    "

31,000,000

Chile

     "       "

    "

4,000,000

Columbia

     "       "

    "

6,000,000

Cuba

West Indies

    "

3,000,000

Costa Rica

Central America

    "

500,000

Dominican Republic

West Indies

    "

1,000,000

Ecuador

South America

    "

2,000,000

Guatemala

Central America

    "

2,500,000

Haiti

West Indies

    "

2,000,000

Honduras

Central America

    "

700,000

Mexico

North America

    "

15,000,000

Nicaragua

Central America

    "

700,000

Panama

     "       "

    "

500,000

Paraguay

South America

    "

1,000,000

Peru

     "       "

    "

5,000,000

[El] Salvador

Central America

    "

1,500,000

Uruguay

South America

    "

1,500,000

Venezuela

     "       "

    "

2,500,000

 

            By grouping the different Latin countries otherwise, we find that there are six republics besides British Honduras in Central America with about 6,000,000 inhabitants; ten republics besides the three Guianas (British, French, and Dutch) in South America with about 64,000,000 inhabitants; three republics and some European possessions in the West Indies with about 10,000,000 inhabitants, and one republic (Mexico) in North America with 15,000,000 inhabitants.

 

Very respectfully submitted,

Your brother in the Gospel,

Andrew Jenson



[1] Andrew Jenson to Heber J. Grant and Counselors, July 11, 1923, CR 1 44, box 28, folder 13 item 1, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.