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New training center, temple housing facility dedicated in Argentina

Two new buildings adjacent to the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple - the Missionary Training Center and the Patron Housing Facility - were dedicated March 5 by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.

Elder Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve dedicated the recently completed three-story buildings in the Buenos Aires suburb of Evita.The new Missionary Training Center has the capacity to house 90 missionaries, who will come from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The Patron Housing Facility can house 154 patrons, and has 10 additional apartments for couple missionaries serving at the temple.

In addition to offering the dedicatory prayer, Elder Wirthlin also spoke at the service. Also speaking were Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Kay Briggs, area director of temporal affairs. On their trip to Argentina, Elder Wirthin was accompanied by his wife, Elisa, and Elder Christensen by his wife, Barbara.

Also attending the ceremony were Elders Lynn A. Micklesen and John B. Dickson, both of the Seventy, president and second counselor of the South America South Area, respectively; Pres. Rodolfo Mortensen of the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple; and Ronald V. Stone, director of the Argentina Missionary Training Center.

A choir of 50 missionaries, led by Elder Stone, sang during the ceremony, accompanied by Sister Patricia Stone at the piano.

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Wirthlin said: "This center gives the opportunity for thousands of young men and women to be trained to become effective missionaries.

"Today represents a new era in the history of the South America South Area. There are multitudes of righteous people who are searching for the truth in these countries. We are grateful for our wonderful members who have embraced the gospel and who are doing so much to build the kingdom in this area."

In his remarks, Elder Wirthlin said the cluster of buildings are directly involved in the mission of the Church. "We see here an example of the Church - it is compacted in these three buildings. The Missionary Training Center is where we train and send out these wonderful missionaries in order to bring many people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then, later, as the converts proceed and improve themselves, they will be able to come to the patron housing and then go to the temple."

Elder Christensen said: "I hope with all my heart that we live the gospel, that our lives meet the teachings of Christ. There is not a more efficient way to prepare leaders, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands and sons and daughters to guide the Church than by serving a mission."

Brother Briggs noted that 69 years ago, in a park not too distant from the temple, Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Council of the Twelve dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel. Brother Briggs quoted a statement made at a later time by Elder Ballard:

"The work will go forth slowly for a time just as the oak grows slowly from an acorn. It will not shoot up in a day as does the sunflower that grows quickly and then dies. Thousands will join here. It will be divided into more than one mission and will be one of the strongest in the Church. The work here is the smallest that it will ever be. The day will come when the Lamanites here in South America will get the chance. The South American Mission will be a power in the Church."

Brother Briggs said that day has arrived as hundreds of missionaries arrive to be trained, and people come to go through the temple.

A regional conference held the following day on March 6 at the Luna Park Stadium is evidence of the growth of the Church in South America, according to leaders. About 13,000 members from 14 stakes in the Buenos Aires area attended the conference, which had to be divided into two sessions.

This compares to an area conference, presided over by President Spencer W. Kimball, in 1975 in the same stadium, when some 9,000 members from four countries - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile - attended.

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