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In the Book, Episode 19: "The House of Israel in Mexico: Diana Angulo"

Episode Transcript

“The House of Israel in Mexico” with Diana Angulo

Rebecca: [00:00:00] To start off this new year, we're traveling to Mexico: a land rich and vibrant in tastes, sights, sounds, and a past that's just as colorful. 

Diana: When I think of Mexico, I think of people being happy in a loud way. There is music everywhere, there's a lot of color, tons of flavors, and I think because of how big it is, Mexico has such a diversity of people, of accents, even within the country.

Rebecca: The country is also dotted with famous historical sites. For many, these sites are more than just ruins. For people like Diana Angulo, they are evidence of a rich heritage that links past, present, and beyond, even a heritage tracing all the way back to the origins of the Book of Mormon itself. [00:01:00] 

Diana: Even though I didn't know my ancestors, it is amazing to me to think that the same God, and believing in the same God, and knowing the same God, unites us even till today. 

I'm Rebecca Devonas and this is In The Book. 

This is a podcast where we flood the earth with testimonies of the Book of Mormon. 

Diana Angulo arranges music for and is the presenter of the Scripture Central Escrituras y Música channel.

Diana's early education growing up in Mexico included, as one would expect, stories of those who came before. 

It was there where she learned about the Aztecs, Hernán Cortés, and Quetzalcoatl, whose name I have practiced saying many times, but I suggest referring to Diana's pronunciation for accuracy! [00:02:00] 

Diana: I was very curious about the Aztecs, and the Olmecas, and Toltecas, and Mixtecas, and all those civilizations, and I remember that the teacher was telling us about how when Hernán Cortés - which was the a conqueror of Mexico and basically a big part of America - the teacher said when Hernán Cortés came, people let him in for various reasons, but one which was very important was because they thought he was Quetzalcoatl coming back.

Rebecca: In Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatl was a Mayan creator god, often described as a feathered serpent. 

Some say he was born by a virgin, and was sometimes a symbol of death and resurrection. 

In some depictions, Quetzalcoatl appeared as a tall, bearded man who lived among the people and was said to [00:03:00] return someday.

Diana: And then the teacher, she said, Quetzalcoatl was their main god, and this main god had lived with them for a very short time, and he promised to come back.

And they didn't know when he was going to come back, or how, or the signs, or whatever, but the only thing they knew is that it was a tall, bearded guy.

So, when they saw Hernán Cortés, they thought that if it was not Quetzalcoatl, at least it was one of his people. So, that's why they let him in so easily, because the Aztecs were warriors. They were honestly a very savage civilization, so they did have means for, to at least not let them in that easily.

I'm not affirming that I know every detail, but that is what I was taught and what [00:04:00] we are taught in Mexico, and when I heard that when I was in fourth grade, I just started thinking, “Is Quetzalcoatl Jesus Christ?” Because I knew that story in 3 Nephi my whole life, and when I heard that, my nine-year-old mind and heart was like, “Oh, then it is all true!” 

Rebecca: While there is some speculation as to whether or not there is a connection between Quetzalcoatl and Jesus Christ, the similarities of the legend and the account of Christ's short stay with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, as documented in the Book of Mormon, is curious, and the young Diana sitting in her fourth grade history class wasn't the first to draw the parallel.

In 3 Nephi 20, Christ tells the Nephites, “And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. And behold, this people will I establish in this [00:05:00] land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob. And it shall be a new Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people. Yea, even I will be in the midst of you.” (3 Nephi 20:22)

Diana: The Book of Mormon is the story of people living in the Americas, so it started to have a different meaning to me because I was a descendant of those people - both the Aztecs and both the people that lived in the Book of Mormon.

Rebecca: On her mission in Mexico City, Diana met another missionary that wanted to create a musical program that talked about the correlation and partnership between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Knowing that Diana had studied music, he asked her to come up with an original composition to contribute to the program. 

Diana: I never wrote music before that. I never thought of the idea of me being able to write music. So I was just listening to him thinking, “This is never going to happen.” 

But then, [00:06:00] I thought, “I mean, okay, I guess if I want to write something about the Book of Mormon, I need to read with that intention.”

So I started praying like, “Heavenly Father. I want to write something. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say.”

So I started reading with that intent and trying to see if I found something.

And I did. 

1 Nephi 15:14 

It says, “And at that day the remnant of our seed know that they are the house of Israel and that they are the covenant people of the Lord. And then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers and also to the knowledge of the gospel of the Redeemer, which were ministered unto their fathers by him. Wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of the Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” 

(1 Nephi 15:14) 

I felt [00:07:00] like I saw three points that I never saw before.

First, “and that day,” - so meaning today, these days - “and that day, shall the remnant of our seed,” meaning me, and everyone I knew in Mexico; I was within the remnant, teaching to the remnant, being part of the remnant myself, they “shall know that,” one, “they are of the house of Israel, and they are the covenant people of the Lord,” two, “Then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers and also to their knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him,” meaning, number two, “the Savior himself taught his gospel to them, their forefathers.” 

“Wherefore,” number three, “they shall come to the knowledge of the Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” 

The people that I was teaching, they needed to hear that.

Rebecca: The title page of the [00:08:00] Book of Mormon explains that it was written not only to testify of Christ, but also to show the remnants of the House of Israel, something that they might not be aware of. That they're part of something great. Something eternal.

Diana: So that scripture changed the way I saw the Book of Mormon completely and forever. 

I started writing the song. I started thinking about how to say it and what lyrics to put.

Rebecca: That scripture would not only be the backdrop to the song she composed, but to the testimony of a lady Diana taught on [00:09:00] her mission. In a third or fourth lesson one day, they read 1 Nephi 15:14 together.

Diana: And when I said, “and at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are the house of Israel,” she literally stopped me and said, “Wait, am I part of the house of Israel?” And I said, “Yes!” And she started crying.

I didn't think that was going to be powerful enough to anybody to feel loved by God. It made me understand that first this lady needed to hear that she was part of the covenant people of Israel to feel loved by God.

Rebecca: So what exactly does it mean to be a part of the house of Israel? It's something that has been confusing to me in the past and perhaps is to you, and so I feel like having a constant refresher isn't a bad idea.

The prophet Abraham had a son named Isaac who had a son named Jacob who [00:10:00] after making a covenant with the Lord is called Israel. 

The Church explains it perfectly on their website, so I'm going to go ahead and read exactly what they wrote.

“God then promised Israel that all the blessings that had been pronounced upon Abraham's head would also be his. Taking this new name was a sign of receiving the covenant his father and grandfather had received. 

“Israel had 12 sons, and their descendants were collectively known as the House of Israel, the Tribes of Israel, the Children of Israel, or the Israelites.

“Throughout history, the children of Israel attached great significance to their descent. 

“The Apostle Paul proclaimed that he was of the tribe of Benjamin. 

“When Lehi sent his sons to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass, one reason was that the plates contained a genealogy of his father's. Lehi discovered that he was a descendant of Joseph, and his posterity's understanding of their connection to the house of Israel proved important to them in the years to come. 

“In the [00:11:00] church today, you may hear about Israel in expressions like the gathering of Israel. We sing about the Redeemer of Israel and the hope of Israel. 

“In these cases, we aren't talking or singing only about the ancient kingdom of Israel or the modern nation called Israel. Rather, we're referring to those who have been gathered from the nations of the world into the church of Jesus Christ. We're referring to people who persevere with God, who earnestly seek his blessings, and who through baptism have become his covenant people. 

“It means that you, like Abraham, are meant to be a blessing to God's children. It means, in the words of Peter, that you are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” (1 Peter 2:9) It means that you are one who perseveres with God as you honor your covenants with him.” (Church website)

Diana: I feel like she felt a part of something and that also made me think [00:12:00] that it was even more important that I wrote that song and at least said that in some way. 

In English, it says,

God has always asked his people to write scriptures and the Bible has a partner we can trust. 

By our Lord's commandment, people in America wrote scripture for us. 

Many tears were shed and lives were lost by thousands to preserve the records even till these days. 

Story of truth and courage of these people was written down on gold plates. 

They will speak from the dust many promises untold and the work of wonder will be unfold. 

Listen to their wish. 

This book will teach them greatly. They'll know they come from the house of Israel. 

They will know the truth about their fathers [00:13:00] that we saw the Christ, for he came. 

Our dear God has said he'll keep the records safely until they come out in good hands to the world. 

There is no better present to our children than words of life said by our Lord.

The great Jerusalem saw Christ's miracles and birth, yet the end began on this side of earth. 

Rebecca: I love the line “that they shall speak from the dust.” What were you thinking when you wrote that line?

Diana: I feel like I know them; the people in the Book of Mormon, I feel like I know them and I feel like I understand them, yet I don't see them. So it's literally that they're speaking dead. So that's why it's like they're speaking from the dust; introduction of the Book of Mormon mentions that line. 

They're not here, yet they are still teaching you. And I know that [00:14:00] also happens with the Bible, but knowing that these are my ancestors, it started to have a different meaning little by little. Every time that I went to ruins. There's always something that can be connected to the Book of Mormon.

Rebecca: I like to ask my interviewees what they would say to someone who doesn't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, so let's go back into the studio to hear Diana's thoughts.

Diana: I know that it's hard and unusual to believe in something that most people don't believe in, and it is even, maybe you can say peculiar, but we are peculiar people. The house of Israel was a peculiar people in their time.

God has his people. We are different from the world. That doesn't mean we're better. We're just different, and he wants you by his side because [00:15:00] he's already won. He's already won the battle. Everything that he said in the Book of Mormon and the Bible that’s going to happen, is going to happen. But the best way to be on the right side of history, is to be close to him, and the best way to do it - and maybe it's hard for some people to hear this - but it is by the Book of Mormon. 

Rebecca: As a refresher, the name of this podcast, In The Book, is suggesting that we talk about what in the book has been so compelling for people who have read it. You may have noticed that the scriptures they choose to focus on are read aloud, and the references are written in the episode notes. So take a look at those if you're ever not sure what the reference is.

This year we're studying the Book of Mormon in Come Follow Me, so I'd especially love to hear more of your thoughts, comments, testimonies, and stories with the Book of Mormon, and also which episodes so [00:16:00] far you've enjoyed most and why. So please send those comments to podcasts@scripturecentral.org.

I'm Rebecca Devonas and I produced this episode with script contributions by Ryan Kunz.

You've been listening to In The Book.