On the sunlit morning of June 20, along a bank of the Rio Negro, Church leaders and members participated in the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Manaus Brazil Temple.
The 86-degree weather — very pleasant in the Amazon known for its warm temperatures — and a clear blue sky, combined to bring even more joy to those who gathered to witness the beginning of work on the temple.
Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy and president of the Brazil Area, presided over the ceremony, which was also attended by his counselors, Ulisses Soares and Stanley G. Ellis, and their wives Rosana and Kathryn respectively.
Also attending were Manaus Mayor Serafim Correa; Arlindo Pedro da Silva Jr., city councilman; and Elder Paulo Henrique Itinose, an Area Seventy now serving as President of the Manaus Brazil Mission.
Elder Ellis stated, "Today is a day of preparation," words which were echoed by Elder Didier in his closing remarks and who offered the dedicatory prayer for the temple construction to begin. Elder Soares recounted how the temple site had been selected 13 years previously, and that "the day long hoped for" had finally arrived.
Eighteen years ago, in July of 1990, the Manaus Brazil Mission was organized. The president of the mission at that time, Claudio R.M. Costa, taught the first missionaries the importance of finding and teaching entire families. "A temple means families. If in the future we are to have a temple in this city, we must baptize families today," President Costa emphasized.
Now serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Costa declared: "The House of the Lord will be a great blessing to the city of Manaus. The Manaus temple will be one of the most-frequented temples in the world." He told how the members of the Church in the area had made great sacrifices in the past to go to a temple, first traveling seven days to reach the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple and later traveling 40 hours to attend the Caracas Venezuela Temple.
Manaus Brazil Cidade Nova Stake President Geraldo Lima, who has already taken 13 of the 20 stake temple excursions to Venezuela, said, "We always returned home from the Caracas temple with our hearts full of joy, in spite of the great sacrifices. Soon we'll be able to feel that same happiness every day here in our own city, with the new Manaus temple soon to be built."
A happy and emotional Alice Chaves, 35, a member since age 14, added: "This is a great blessing in our lives at this time. I remember how it all started for me, when I was baptized, and now I see the promised blessings coming like a miracle."
After a prayer, the members of the Brazil Area Presidency each took a shovel and symbolically "broke the ground" for the construction to begin. Elder Didier then invited a few sisters to do the same, stating: "Sisters, you will be a big help in this temple in the future."
In the 18 years that Manaus has been open to missionary labors, the city has grown from just one stake in 1988 to eight stakes currently, with more than 44,000 members meeting in 22 meetinghouses for Sunday worship services.
There was a large article published in the newspaper Amazonas em Tempo; several reporters from local TV and radio stations attended the groundbreaking.
The Manaus Brazil Temple was announced on May 23, 2007. When completed, it will be the sixth temple to be built on Brazilian soil; others have been built in Sao Paulo, Recife, Porto Alegre, Campinas and Curitiba.