ASUNCION, Paraguay — Wide interest from the media, government officials and invited guests greeted the open house of the Paraguay Asuncion Temple May 2.
After the first week of the public open house, 22,482 visitors had come, and of them, nearly 3,000 requested more information about the Church.
Among the invited guests was the First Lady of Paraguay, Mrs. Susana Galli de Gonzalez Macchi, along with the workers and contractors who helped build the temple.
Mrs. Gonzalez, in her genteel way, thanked Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy and president of the South America South Area, for the invitation to tour the temple.
"I wish to thank you for the opportunity to visit this beautiful place that now adorns our city," she said. "And more than seeing its beauty from outside, we were able to feel the beauty that you have created inside."
She continued: "Elder Jensen said that 'this is our Church,' and I believe that we are able to consider it as such; the members and the people attending here are Paraguayans. I feel very pleased, and very happy that this magnificent work is being inaugurated in Asuncion."
She added that the feelings and values of the members are universal, and such values as strong families are those that all people ought to practice in their lives, always looking forward to that which will come afterwards.
The reporters took great interest in the opening of the temple, and kept Elder Jensen; Elder Ernesto A. B. Da Silva, an Area Authority Seventy from Paraguay; and Myriam Maluff, public affairs director; busy answering questions and giving interviews. One of the journalists, Maria Diaz de Vivar of Tiempos del Mundo, commented, "This invitation has been a journalistic opportunity, but it has also satisfied my personal curiosity to learn of the beliefs of members of The Church of Jesus Christ about its purpose: what is a chapel, and what is a temple. In it, I saw light and clarity, and I felt as if I were in my own home, with a sensation of recognition."
Elder Jensen commented on the open house: "A year ago the First Presidency assigned me to hold the groundbreaking ceremony and prepare for a temple in Paraguay. This day was a great worry, but we proceeded anyway. In the site dedication prayer, I was impressed to mention that this place should be known as the temple grounds, even though we had not yet purchased all the land. The Lord made the work in His own way and we have seen His hand open the path to buy the land to complete all the temple grounds.
"We have seen the excellent work of the workers, artisans, and professionals; we have seen all the effort, and now the open house. In two weeks, the temple will be dedicated."
He spoke of two experiences that happened as he hosted groups through the temple. "A woman who did not belong to the Church said, 'How beautiful is our temple.' This is the feeling we have heard from many visitors who do not belong to the Church, and the feeling is even stronger among the members of the Church. The temple is the House of the Lord, and this feeling comes with a sense of peace and security."
The other experience happened with the first lady of the nation, said Elder Jensen. "She is an excellent person who wants to be a good mother, a good wife and care for her children. She captured well the spirit of the temple when she said that the outside of the temple is beautiful, but it is the interior that has the impact."
He said "hearts were changed as people toured the building and people reflected the love of the Lord, who wants us to be happy as individuals and as families."
A pioneer member who returned for the open house was Elder Robert E. Wells, emeritus General Authority, who lived in Paraguay for seven years while his family was young.
"We love Paraguay," he said. "Our roots are here. Two daughters were born here, and we had many experiences during the seven years we lived here. We have many memories, and had many adventures, but the most profound are the spiritual aspects of helping the Church to grow."