Elder Enrique R. Falabella was born May 9, 1950, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, the eldest of four children born to Udine Falabella and Leonor Arellano Falabella. The future General Authority was just five years old when his mother, Leonor Falabella, died. The youngest Falabella child was only six months old. Elder Falabella's father, Udine Falabella, was devastated by the loss of his young wife, and struggled with the notion that his family would never again be whole. With his wife's passing, Udine Falabella began a new life raising four children alone, all the while seeking a religion that believed his family could be eternally united.
Udine Falabella's quest ended when two L.D.S. Missionaries visited his Guatemala City home claiming to have good news for the fractured family. The then twelve year old Enrique recognized that there was something different about the missionaries. He saw it in the love they showed and the power with which they taught. “I wanted to know what they knew,” he recalled. That desire and his willingness to do what the missionaries asked led to his conversion.
"The missionaries introduced the idea that our family could be together forever," said Elder Falabella. The family accepted their message. The future General Authority was the first in his family to be baptized, but his father joined the Church only a month later.
Being a member of the Church then in Guatemala meant also being something of a pioneer. Only six branches operated in the capital city. There was no temple to be found in Central America. Still, the newly baptized Udine Falabella was determined to take his surviving family to the temple for the sealing ordinances.
Udine Falabella was able to secure a family passport, but didn't have the money needed for his entire family to travel to the Mesa Arizona Temple. "My grandmother was not a member of the Church, but she stepped forward and gave us the money that we needed," Elder Falabella said.
After enduring several days aboard a northbound bus, the Falabellas finally arrived in the United States. They returned home an eternal family. The Lord recognized the faithfulness of Enrique's father, and Udine Falabella would later be called as Guatemala's first stake president in 1967.
Although Enrique's future wife, Blanca Lidia Sanchez, first saw him while hw was playing basketball against her branch's team, the two were not formally introduced until three years later, after his return from a full-time mission to the Central Americal Mission. The mission had been a life-altering watershed event in his life, which, as he said, he "would not change for anything."
After a proper courtship, he and Blanca became engaged and wanted to be married in the temple. So the couple sold their only possession — Sister Falabella's old car — to pay for a trip to Mesa, Arizona. "It was enough money to go to Arizona, but not enough to return," Elder Falabella said.
Fueled by faith if not finance, Enrique and Blanca traveled to the United States and were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple on June 21, 1975. While the couple was attending a Sunday School class a day or so after their marriage, several strangers approached the newlyweds and pressed cash into their palms. The money paid for their trip home and forever cemented in their hearts a love for the temple and its attendant blessings. The couple would have five children: Rienzi Enrique (Jenny); Nefi Rene (Sheyla); Evelyn Leonor; David; Daniel, and, at this writing, four grandchildren.
With a love for the Temple etched deeply in his heart, Enrique was thrilled when years later, while he was serving as a stake president in Guatemala City, President Spencer W. Kimball announced a temple would be built in his country. Each stake was asked to contribute to the construction of the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. Few had much money, but many contributed.
"It was a great sacrifice, but we received many blessings," Elder Falabella said. "The members prospered."
In his secular life, Enrique earned a degree in agronomy from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and later studied marketing at the University of Costa Rica. He worked for Bayer, a chemical and pharmaceutical company, before being called to serve as a General Authority.
Elder Enrique Rienzi Falabella Arellano believes nothing is more valuable than a personal testimony of Jesus Christ and how the Atonement can affect one’s life. He learned early that gaining a testimony begins with a desire to know the truth and a willingness to live it.
“Very early on I learned to appreciate the Savior’s words: ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17). If we will live gospel principles, the Spirit can touch our hearts, and we will learn that they are really true.”
Elder Falabella brought an abundance of experience to his new calling, having presided over the Central America Area as an Area Seventy. "Still, I'm a little overwhelmed — the weight of this responsibility is heavy." Other callings through the years include stake mission president, bishop, regional representative, and stake president, He was serving as a branch president at the Missionary Training Center in Guatemala City at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy
He plans to offer members of the Church the same simple directions given by his fellow General Authorities, past and present: Live the gospel. Hold family prayer. Study the scriptures. Serve one another.
"Every day, we must patch up the (spiritual) leaks in our lives," Elder Falabella said, repeating counsel he learned from President Kimball. Don't allow life's troubling flood waters to enter.
A mother of five and grandmother of four, Sister Falabella added that communication is vital between parents and their children. Know your children's needs. Talk to them about the challenges of the day, she counseled.
An eyewitness to the remarkable growth of the Church in Guatemala and throughout Latin America, Elder Falabella envisioned even better days ahead. "The things that we have seen are nothing compared to what we will see in the future."