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Tens of thousands tour Chile temple

Rededication date rescheduled for March 12; President Hinckley hopes to attend

The rededication of the Santiago Chile Temple has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 12, to allow contractors additional time to complete finish work on the edifice. The rededication had originally been scheduled for Feb. 26.

President Gordon B. Hinckley — who is recovering from last month's surgery to a remove a cancerous growth from the large intestine — hopes to preside at the rededication of Chile's only temple.

The Saturday evening cultural event has also been rescheduled for March 11, the eve of the rededication ceremony.

Meanwhile, the public open house of the refurbished temple was expected to conclude Feb. 11. It's expected that more than 50,000 people will have toured the building when the temple closes its doors to the public.

Expressions such as "I felt God's spirit," "Today I have found the Lord's house," and "The spirit in the temple's celestial room was overwhelming," were heard frequently from the some 3,000 people who visited the Santiago Chile Temple each day. The public open house began Jan. 21.

The open house activities offered an apt preview for the upcoming rededication ceremonies and allowed thousands of people — regardless of their religious affiliation — to come to know the house of the Lord and the covenants He is eager to share in the temple.

"Everything here is so beautiful, so lovely," said Maria Angelica, one of the many open house visitors who was not a Church member. "I felt so good inside the celestial room."

The Santiago Chile Temple was originally constructed in 1983, becoming the Church's 24th temple in the world. It was closed in January 2005 to allow workers to refurbish and expand the temple. Following the March 12 rededication, the Santiago Chile Temple will be among the Church's 122 sacred edifices operating in the world.

One of the major changes includes the refurbished baptismal font. The font is now supported by 12 oxen statues — a feature that drew the attention of many open house visitors. New details on the temple furniture and floors include the work of Chilean artisans. Images from the Book of Mormon, including prints from LDS artist Minerva Teichert, also adorn the temple walls.

Since the beginning of the open house program, thousands have entered the temple off Santiago's Pocuro con Pedro de Valdivia Avenue to enjoy a tour and learn more about temple functions. The visitors have not been limited to Santiagoans. Many have traveled to the temple on buses that departed from regions throughout Chile.

The steady flow of people who filed through the temple surpassed the expectations of local Church leaders.

While waiting to enter the temple, visitors caught a glimpse of the neighboring offices of the Church in Chile, along with a meetinghouse, a small distribution center and a building that houses missionaries and temple patrons. The gardens located behind the temple offered open house visitors a serene spot for quiet meditation.

After entering the temple, groups of 25 were assigned to a tour guide and watched a short film introducing them to the purpose of temples. The tour also included visits to the temple's refurbished baptistry and ordinance rooms. Many visitors were emotionally moved by the spirit of peace and tranquility found inside the temple's celestial room.

"I had no idea I would feel this way," said Lorena Ruiz of the Constitucion Ward, Talca Chile Stake, who was baptized last year. "It was my first visit to the temple and it was a marvelous experience. It was well worth the wait."

The tour concluded at the neighboring meetinghouse where visitors learned more about the Church, enjoyed refreshments and were given an opportunity to record their feelings about visiting the Santiago Chile Temple.

"What impacts you the most is what you feel inside — the presence and the feeling of peace and love," said Luis Riveros Cornejo, rector of the University of Chile.

Eduardo Lamartine, coordinator of the temple committee over the open house and rededication, expressed joy at the impact felt by the temple visitors who were left strengthened by the tour.

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