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25,095 tour new Aba Nigeria Temple; members now preparing for dedication

ABA, Nigeria — As the open house for the Aba Nigeria Temple came to a close July 2, many Nigerian saints came a second or third time bringing more relatives and friends with them. Leaders in stakes and districts were pleased with the important opinion makers who visited the temple complex. Many who planned a brief visit paused to contemplate the peaceful atmosphere they found there.

Augustine Onyemerekeya, national director of employment, commented, "This is Jerusalem's temple of our day. After the tour, I felt an inner peace and wished to stay forever. To God is the glory."

Another comment came from Basil Uwaoma Ahuronye, Office of the Deputy Governor of Umuahia. "This has been a wonderful experience. It is an occasion that will last me a lifetime. It was a spiritual fulfillment for me."

Chief Alozie Ndulaka expressed his feelings by saying, "It is a wonderful edifice that benefits the Lord. It is a serene environment that stimulates spiritual interaction with God."

Prince M.A. Oji added, "It's been a very beautiful tour. May God bless The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thank you for the marvelous temple. I wish I could be able to be part of you."

By the time the doors of the newly built edifice closed July 2 in preparation for an Aug. 7 dedication, some 25,095 had toured the temple and grounds. The words of Aba Nigeria Stake President Iheanyi L. Nwankpa, who is also coordinator of the open house and dedication committee, were proved right. "Thousands will come," he said before the open house began June 18.

Among the thousands who came, many openly expressed their feelings at visiting what will be the second operating temple in West Africa and the 121st in the Church.

Chioma Mang, business manager for Standard Trust Bank, accompanied by her assistant manager, Ada Nwadiaro, said: "I am Nigerian and have been educated in England. I have two advanced degrees; one in business and my law degree. We have been so impressed with what the road and bridge has done for the city of Aba. We wanted to come and find out why a Church would spend so much time and money for the people of Aba.

"I was so impressed with this temple. I felt something so heavenly I cannot express it. We are coming back Saturday with our husbands and children."

Church members Hilany and Berina Chukwuemeka spoke of their first tour of the temple. "Our maiden tour of the temple was like a dream come true. Neither of us had seen anything as beautiful as the inside of it. Already the tranquility of the inside speaks of only one thing — the presence of the Lord in His Holy Temple. We will forever remember this day."

Throughout the course of the open house, hundreds of members came from outlying districts and stakes. For example, Bishop Ekpenyong E. Ekpenyong of the Calabar 3rd Ward brought 70 members. They came by bus and traveled for 2 1/2 hours each way. The Warri district had four buses full of members and visitors and had traveled six hours one way.

| Photo by Sister Donna Whisenant

Members have shown great devotion to the temple open house by hand-delivering more than 2,500 media and special guest invitations and approximately 80,000 member missionary invitations to family, friends and neighbors in their areas.

A smaller temple, the building is approximately 11,500 square feet and includes Namibian granite from South Africa for the exterior. The wood used extensively throughout the temple interior is an African hardwood, similar to mahogany, named Makore.

Designer Bengt Erlandsson received inspiration for his interior after spending several months in Africa studying images and designs from African fabrics. "Colors used in this temple are more vivid because African fabrics are more colorful. Much thought and planning went into these designs," said Mr. Erlandsson.

The carpet was custom designed and hand sculptured in African design patterns. The floor tile is bordered with larger African images. The windows are lead glass with etched African designs as are the baptistry and front entrance doors.

| Photo by Sister Donna Whisenant

Beautiful murals painted by Linda Curley Christensen adorn the walls of one room. To enhance her paintings and make them of Nigerian design, she gathered photos, videos and images from returned Nigerian missionaries and studied them extensively.

The furniture is made of Akala, a light-colored hardwood decorated with gold leafing. The furniture was manufactured in Aba. The grounds are landscaped with indigenous trees, shrubs, and flowers.

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