By: Cierra Putman
MIDLAND - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may be one of the fastest growing religious groups in the world.
Here in West Texas and other parts of the U.S., they're seeing a spike in Spanish speaking members.
Within the last few years, the Church has established two new Spanish branches – one in Midland and one in Odessa - to accommodate the membership increase.
Right now, there are more than 300 members in total.
Many members are new converts like the Salazar family.
"I was looking to become a better parent, a better human being, a better husband," Miguel Salazar said. "I was trying to fill emptiness in my heart and I found that at this Church."
Strangers led the Salazars to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"The missionaries came and knocked on our door and asked if they could have the opportunity to teach us the gospel and we did," Miguel Salazar said. "I felt the spirit and I liked it."
"It was kind of difficult at first," Treva Salazar said. "We weren't used to staying still and learning, but as we learned more, we really liked it. And the missionaries had patience for my family and me."
And they're not alone. At the end of May, the Texas Lubbock Mission, which includes Midland and Odessa, saw a 41% increase in Hispanic baptisms compared to last year.
Branch President John Corral thinks the Church's emphasis on family draws Hispanics.
"They do things as a family," Corral said. "They grow as a family, argue as a family and reconcile as a family. And they can learn the gospel as a family as well."
The trend doesn't surprise the Salazars.
"They're probably looking for the truth as we did," Treva Salazar said.
Carrol says he expects to see more Spanish speaking families in the future.