[In December, 1925, Melvin J. Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was sent to open up missionary work in South America. On Christmas Day of 1925, in the park of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Elder Ballard dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel. In his dedicatory prayer, he prayed: "And now, oh, Father, by authority of the blessing and appointment by the President of the Church, and by the authority of the holy apostleship which I have, I turn the key, unlock, and open the door for the preaching of the Gospel in all these South American nations, and do rebuke and command to be stayed every power that would oppose the preaching of the Gospel in these lands; and we do bless and dedicate these nations of this land for the preaching of thy Gospel. And we do all this that salvation may come to all men, and that thy name may be honored and glorified in this part of the land of Zion."
After his return, he reported experiences from his mission in the October 1926 General Conference: ]
In these last seventy years, a marvelous change that was necessary to prepare the hearts of the people and the governments for the coming of the gospel message. We knew, however, that it was not going to be easy, but we were willing to go to the ends of the earth, to make any kind of sacrifice, to discharge the great obligation which the Lord has placed upon his Church, to bring to all men the glad news that he has spoken again, and has established his Church in the earth, that all flesh, black and white, bond and free, Jew and Gentile, all may know of these good things which the Lord has done....
With Brother [Rulon W.] Wells' assistance we succeeded in carrying the work forward among the German-speaking people of that section [of Buenos Aires], and before Brother Wells had to return [because of illness] it was our privilege to take six of them into the waters of baptism, the first converts baptized in South America....
Then Brother [Rey L.] Pratt and myself continued our work with the German people as best we could, but it was difficult. I had to tell Brother Pratt in English what to tell them, and he told it in the Spanish to a German girl who could speak a little Spanish. She interpreted it in German to our friends, and the answer came back in the same grapevine way. But we were successful in holding them and in increasing interest among others until our little group grew.
The principal work that Brother Pratt and myself undertook was among the Spanish-speaking people.... We undertook to secure a hall, but there were no halls such as we have in this country. Conditions are different. When we did try to rent some of them, we could not secure them because they were recreation halls, and the chief activities were going forward on Sunday night, and they did not wish a religious service to disturb them. So for two months we battled with that problem. We tried to rent office quarters to make halls out of them, but were unsuccessful.
At last we did secure a place and rented all of it, a store and living quarters, and then we began to invite people to come. In the meantime, however, we had gone to our friends who live in the suburbs or outskirts of the city. That was not the easiest work to do, because we traveled two hours on the street car and then walked two miles, not on paved streets, but on lanes, through fields, in mud, in dust, and all character of weather, and then when we did this all we could get to come to our meetings, for nearly two months, were children.
There was no prejudice against us, in fact the great majority of the people did not even know there was a United States of North America or anything about it, much less did they know anything about the "Mormon" Church.... And we learned anew that "a little child shall lead them." We continued with those children, teaching them to sing, teaching them to pray, to repeat the Lord's prayer, the Articles of Faith, and the Ten Commandments. They carried these prayers and songs into their homes, and then one parent appeared, and another, and another, and we finally organized a group meeting of adults, and continued to teach the children.
The children brought their parents--and that was true in several places that had opened for us. Then we moved forward into homes of those who had become interested, and to our great joy we saw that the same wonderful response was being manifest in the hearts of the people of that land as elsewhere, and a splendid Spanish woman, came forward and signified her absolute conviction that we had brought the truth. She resisted all kinds of opposition that was arrayed against her, and it was our privilege to bring her into the fold of Christ. I want to bear witness that there is not in the Church anywhere a more devoted, faithful Latter-day Saint than Sister Sifuentes, in the city of Buenos Aires.... She became an active and energetic missionary....
I rejoice in saying to you, my brethren and sisters, that God was good to us and he opened the door so that ultimately we had the privilege of laying the foundation of the Church in that land, and from a membership of four adults, when we reached that land, we have left twenty-four Latter-day Saints, with the work started in those three languages [Spanish, German, and Italian]....
I had the privilege of visiting twelve thousand five hundred homes, giving them this printed message and inviting the people to our meetings. We held two hundred thirty-four meetings, so that Brother Pratt was very busy preaching to the people.... It was the most difficult piece of missionary work that I have undertaken, but I thank the Lord that success has come out of it, that a foundation has been laid, and I am convinced that it is possible for the gospel to be carried to all the people of that land.
Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1926, 34-41
_Melvin J. Ballard, Crusader for Righteousness_, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, 81