Elder Benjamin De Hoyos and his wife, Evelia, seem emblematic of two familiar faces of faithful Church members across the globe.
Like millions of others, Elder De Hoyos grew up surrounded by the gospel — the spiritual beneficiary of devout LDS parents and grandparents who endowed in their descendants the value and satisfaction of Church service and study.
In July of 2005, Elder De Hoyos of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his extended family celebrated 100 years since his great-grandmother on his mother’s side joined the Church in 1905.
Elder De Hoyos was born on February 20, 1953, in Monterrey, Mexico, to Alfredo De Hoyos and Sarah Estrada De Hoyos. He served in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission.
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Elder De Hoyos was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in the centennial year of his family's conversion to the Church. At a time when the Church was approaching a volatile period of new growth in Mexico, Benjamin's family was already being nourished by gospel roots that burrowed sure and deep.
"I can't remember a time when my family did not attend Church," said Elder De Hoyos. "My mother was in the (branch) choir, so I learned most of the hymns as I would sit and wait for her. My parents were always faithful. That has been their legacy."
Elder De Hoyos' father, Alfredo De Hoyos, was a student of the scriptures who gathered his children together for "family home evening" long before the program had been institutionalized by the Church. "Sometimes he would repeat the same lesson two or three times until we had learned the material well," Elder De Hoyos recalled.
Elder De Hoyos also learned from his parents that the Church affords its members a community of fellowship and love. Alfredo De Hoyos owned a large truck that he used during the week for his construction job. The big family truck also performed a Sabbath-day duty.
"On Sundays we went from neighborhood to neighborhood, picking up relatives and fellow members until the truck was filled — it unified us with all the other families," Elder De Hoyos said.
But their long history with the Church was not the family’s only legacy—they were a family of teachers, having influenced countless lives.
Elder De Hoyos’s mother was a teacher. He has two uncles who taught at Brigham Young University. His three sisters are teachers. And the profession reached into a third generation with one of his daughters.
Elder De Hoyos' wife, pn the other hand, first learned of the Church on adulthood's cusp when a pair of missionaries knocked on the door of her widowed mother in Sonora, Mexico, and asked to share their happy message.
Although Evelia Genesta De Hoyos did not join the Church until she was 16, she immediately felt at home in her new faith because of the generous, good-hearted ways of the Sonoran members. "Members play such an important role in the lives of new converts," she said. "A girl that had fellowshipped me came to my house the day of my baptism with a pressed white dress. That meant so much to me."
Evelia was asked to teach Primary just days after joining the Church. She regards that first, simple Church job as an inspired and precious calling that allowed her to learn the basics of the gospel as she prepared to teach children each week. The enthusiastic young member would later be called as a district missionary in her hometown of Ciudad Obregon. While serving as a missionary she met her future husband, who was laboring as a full-time missionary in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission.
Indeed, the two had traveled diverse paths that ultimately led to a shared life of Church activity. Yet they said each way was paved by the example of others eager to share their love and testimony.
It's apropos that Elder and Sister De Hoyos met while both serving missions and then reunited while working at an LDS school. Their lives together have been defined by Church service.
"We have served in almost every Church calling," said Elder De Hoyos, who presided over the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission (1996-1999) and was serving as an Area Seventy and second counselor in the Mexico South Area at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Through their combined service, the De Hoyos were eyewitnesses to the gospel miracle that is Mexico — home to more than a million members. In the early years of their marriage, the couple would take a two-day trip to Mesa twice a year to visit the temple. Following the 1983 dedication of the Mexico City D.F. Mexico Temple, the De Hoyos looked for the day when two, maybe three more temples would be built in their country. Elder De Hoyos shakes his head when he considers the 13 temples operating today on Mexican soil.
"President [Gordon B.] Hinckley has represented a fulfillment of many prophesies in our country," said Elder De Hoyos, speaking of the Church president who has directed Mexico's remarkable period of temple building.
Elder De Hoyos had planned on being an engineer, then graduated in pedagogy and spent 26 years with the Church Educational System. “The Lord’s hand was in my decision to change from engineering to teaching,” Elder De Hoyos says. “We are all teachers in the Church. My profession has been a resource to me to be able to serve better.”
Elder De Hoyos and his wife, Evelia Genesta Mendivil De Hoyos, lived in almost every state in Mexico during his work for CES as a seminary teacher, CES coordinator, institute director, associate area director, and country director. During that time he served as president or counselor in four stake presidencies, president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mission, Area Seventy, and Second Counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency.
He and Evelia were married on June 4, 1975, in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They and their six children maintained their unity during all of the moves and all of the hours of Church service through family scripture study and planning time to be together.
Though he gave up his employment to serve full-time, he didn’t give up teaching. “One is never finished teaching or learning,” Elder De Hoyos said. “Being a teacher is a great privilege.”
The De Hoyos worked hard to help the Church develop in Mexico while keeping sharp focus on the spiritual growth inside their own home. "We know the importance of families and of doing the simple, little things," Elder De Hoyos said. "We have a clear testimony of family prayer, of family home evening, of reading the scriptures and keeping the Sabbath day holy."
As a grandfather, Elder De Hoyos believed young parents throughout the Church can build strong families through full participation in the program of the Church. "This builds an invisible but strong bond between parents and children. When the difficult days of adolescence come, this bond won't be broken. Families will stay unified despite the difficulties."
Sister De Hoyos added the home should be a place of refuge and instruction. She recommended that parents teach their children the commandments and of their divine relationship with their Heavenly Father. Even when children are grown, they can benefit from the counsel of loving parents.
Allow children to learn responsibility, she said. "If a child is able to throw toys around, he's also able to pick them up."
The couple add they have long enjoyed the blessings afforded full tithe payers.
"When we got married we had nothing," Elder De Hoyos said. "But the Lord has promised in the Book of Mormon that if we keep the commandments we can prosper in the land. We knew we could keep the commandments, and the Lord has kept His promise to this day."
As a General Authority, Elder De Hoyos now has the responsibility to help direct the welfare and development of the Church worldwide. He is humbled and eager to fulfill his new calling.
"We never thought this would happen to us, but we want to do our best."