"Surely Father Lehi has wept with sorrow over his posterity. Surely he weeps today with joy."
These words from President Gordon B. Hinckley's dedicatory prayer of the Lima Peru Temple were repeated to more than 1,000 temple attenders Jan. 10 on the fourth anniversary of the dedication.Regarding those who would attend the temple, President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, said at the dedication, "May their number increase through the years and may a glorious work be here performed for the eternal blessing of the generations of men and women who have walked the earth."
That supplication - as well as President Hinckley's plea that the temple be protected from the destructive forces of nature and the defilement of men - has been answered affirmatively. There are many forces that could hold back the children of Lehi, in whose midst this temple has been erected. There has been a serious economic condition, political controversy and social unrest.
But in spite of these problems, attendance at this temple has been increasing rapidly, and has tripled in the past two years. The number of endowment sessions per day on weekdays has increased in the past two years from three to 11. A 12th session is planned to be added soon.
On Saturdays, holidays and special days the temple is heavily attended, which makes it necessary to place extra chairs in endowment sessions. Since there is no chapel in the temple, often patrons have to wait in sealing rooms until an ordinance room can be emptied. Seldom is there any complaining.
By opening the temple on holidays, eager temple-goers have happily celebrated special occasions with quiet enthusiasm in the spiritual atmosphere of the temple. Up to 35 sessions a day have been conducted on these special days. On such days, the temple bursts at its seams, yet a reverent calm prevails. As patrons emerge from sessions, they take a few moments for silent prayer and meditation in the celestial room.
It was with the same spirit of joyous reverence that two plane-loads of families arrived at the temple during the week of the commemoration of the dedication. They flew in to be sealed from Iquitos, a thousand kilometers to the north and east of Lima. This distance is not great, compared to that traveled by temple visitors who come from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, and some outlying spots in Peru, but the people coming from these lands can travel by less-expensive bus. Iquitos is situated in the heart of Peru's jungle, and the only way members there can come to the temple is by commercial air, since there are no roads from this area to Lima.
This is very expensive. An airplane ticket for one passenger takes three months of an average wage-earner's salary. But even if it can be saved, by the end of three months, inflation has eaten most of it up. This becomes even more difficult when there is a family of 10 or 12 to be sealed. There were several in the group who came who had 10 children.
Temple blessing for the 6,000 members who live in Iquitos may appear to be unattainable to some, yet the families who made this trip were able to do it through prayer, preparation, considerable personal sacrifice and some financial help from members of the Church in more prosperous parts of the world.
In times of economic and social troubles, it is a temptation to merely maintain activities at a status quo, but the people who serve in the Lima Peru Temple have not been satisfied with this. Temple workers, temple missionaries and employees often work beyond their scheduled hours, and the operational challenges that occur almost daily often tax their abilities. Commercial power outages, for example, require the use of a backup generator that must be kept running at all times.
During one commercial power outage, which happened on one of the busiest days of the year (All Saints' Day), the generator stopped. Everything in the temple stopped also. Through quick thinking, positive actions by the temple engineers, and a lot of prayer, it was soon going again.
The engineers of the temple on many occasions have had to use ingenuity to repair, re-build, and even manufacture parts and components for mechanical, electrical, and electronic temple systems that were unavailable and would have caused a temple closure.
The temple has never had to close because of mechanical problems, and only two scheduled sessions were lost in the past year due to lack of attendance. The ordinance workers, temple missionaries, office staff, security force, and maintenance crew are all dedicated to keep the temple functioning at all times.
The people who work and serve in this temple as well as those who come as patrons are faithful, robust, resilient, and resourceful people. They are truly the children of Lehi.
As these descendants of Father Lehi pass through difficult and discouraging times, he probably weeps with sorrow. But as he sees them conquer challenges and emerge stronger and more faithful, he surely weeps for joy.