Hi I'm Gregorio Billikopf
I was born in Santiago, Chile. In my youth I spent as much time as I could at the family vineyard in San Javier. It was there that I developed a love for horses, agriculture, and an interest in agricultural labor. I studied at the University of California. I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 19. I met my sweetheart at the University. We were married in the Oakland Temple in 1976 and have four children and a growing number of grandchildren. After studying, I worked as a Migrant Education Aide, an Agricultural Training Specialist and finally as a labor management farm advisor for the University of California (34 years). At the University, my specialty areas were increasing worker productivity, interpersonal relations, and conflict management. I was named an honorary visiting professor of the University of Chile. I have loved each one of my jobs and my life's work. I have been a dressage rider and instructor, an amateur radio operator, and a soccer referee. More recently, my love for the Scriptures has occupied much of my free time. It was while reading the Book of Mormon that I was prompted to turn to my Jewish roots and search Isaiah and the Hebrew Bible. I am slowly working on both my Biblical and Modern Hebrew skills. My wife and I love traveling together. We spent all three of my Sabbatical leaves in Chile. My dream to go to Israel and Jerusalem was fulfilled in 2012. My dream to return to Chile after retirement has also come true.
Why I am a Mormon
My father is Jewish; my mother, Catholic. Before turning sixteen, a priest at our school in Santiago gave us an unusual assignment: write a report on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school was being sold to the Mormons. For the report, I used the magazines I received at the Mission home. I was about to discard the book but decided to open it one more time. On the inside cover I read a scripture excerpted from the writings of a prophet who had lived in the Americas anciently. It promised the person who would examine its contents with sincerity, and ask God, in the name of Christ, if the book was true, that by the power of the Holy Ghost the truthfulness of this work would be manifested. I was filled with a penetrating confirmation that the book I held was holy. I soon found myself studying at UC Davis. As I was leaving for Christmas vacation in 1973, I loaded my carryon bag full of books. I saw the Book of Mormon from the corner of my eye and it seemed to be saying to me, “Take me.” I did pack it, but thought it unlikely that I would read it. Once on the plane, I reached into my bag and to my surprise pulled out the last book I had packed: the Book of Mormon. The Spirit seemed to say, “Read me!” I read for four days until I had finished. There was a change in heart that took place in me as I read. I not only felt a deep conviction of the truthfulness of that holy book, but I felt a very personal, tender invitation from the Savior to follow Him. I accepted the invitation with joy and was soon baptized. The next time I returned to Chile, in that very property that I received my assignment to write a report on the Mormons now stood the Santiago Chile temple. Today, my most treasured possession is the knowledge that Jesus is the very Messiah that my Jewish ancestors had been waiting for; that Christ has restored His Church once again upon the earth. I found Christ while reading the Book of Mormon. God found me when I was not looking.
How I live my faith
I am so very grateful for the testimony I have of Jesus Christ, and of His restored Church. I believe that God answers prayers. I tell my friends that Mormons are very romantic because, if we really love our spouse, God may bless our marriage to be eternal. After my love for God, I love my wife more than all things. I do not believe that honeymoons have to end. One Christ-like attribute--I call it genuine intent--is to continue to try to be the person we have not yet become but hope to become someday: to put our best foot forward even after others have seen us at our worst. It is my faith and hope in Christ that strengthens my resolve to pursue genuine intent. The gospel of Jesus Christ has brought me untold happiness. I love to share my love for the gospel with both members and non-members alike. One program of the Church that I immediately felt affinity for was home teaching. We are assigned families to get to know, look after and strengthen. Throughout the years I have met some terrific people this way. I also love the missionaries and going out with them to meet those not of our faith. Because I absolutely love the Scriptures, I have cherished the opportunity to share those with others in various Church callings. I have loved the opportunities given to me to teach seminars on strengthening marriage and interpersonal relations, a topic quite related to my work on mediation. For instance, during my last Sabbatical leave my wife and I lived in Llanquihue, in the south of Chile, where my calling was to teach a series of eighteen firesides on the topic over an eight month period. Callings I have had in the Church include that of branch and stake missionary, seminary and volunteer institute instructor, gospel doctrine and gospel essentials instructor, high councilor, and branch president. My wife and I have purchased the home at the dairy farm we stayed at during our Llanquihue Sabbatical and now look forward to serving in Chile.