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Work commences on Guatemala temple

Church leaders challenge local members to make homes a 'temple'

QUETZALTENANGO, GUATEMALA

On a lovely spring-like morning, more than 700 Church leaders and other guests were witnesses to the March 14 groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple.

Elder Don R. Clarke, center, is joined by his counselors, Elder Shirley D. Christensen and Elder Enr
Elder Don R. Clarke, center, is joined by his counselors, Elder Shirley D. Christensen and Elder Enrique R. Falabella, along with their wives and others at the groundbreaking ceremony for the future Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. | Photo courtesy of the Central America Area

Central America Area President Don R. Clarke of the Seventy presided at the historic ceremony. He was joined by his counselors Elder Shirley D. Christensen and Elder Enrique R. Falabella of the Seventy, along with Area Seventies Elders Poloski Cordon and Carlos Astorga. The spirit of the ceremony was enriched by an 80-voice choir that featured many woman dressed in the indigenous style that is typical of the Quetzaltenango region in northwestern Guatemala.

Members from communities across northwest Guatemala turn over shovels of dirt during the March 14, 2
Members from communities across northwest Guatemala turn over shovels of dirt during the March 14, 2009 groundbreaking ceremony for the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. The temple was announced in 2006 and will become the second such edifice operating in Guatemala. | Photo courtesy of Central America Area

Upon its completion, the future temple will be the second of its kind in this Central American nation. The Guatemala City Guatemala Temple opened in 1984.

In his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Elder Clark spoke to the Guatemalan members about the essential role of temples.

"It is because of your obedience and diligence that the Lord has permitted the construction of this sacred house," he said. Elder Clarke then challenged the members to make their homes a temple.

"Our own homes should be a house of prayer and order and faith. Outside of the temple itself, our homes should be the most sacred place there is. What a blessing to have these principles that can bring such happiness to our lives."

Artist's rendering of the future Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple captures the placid spirit that wil
Artist's rendering of the future Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple captures the placid spirit that will one day be found outside the sacred edifice.

Elder Clarke also expressed his thanks to the national and local officials who attended the open-air ceremony. He said that the new temple will be a blessing for those selected to build the edifice and to all who live in the new temple district.

A native Guatemalan, Elder Falabella spoke of the many early members of the Church here who made faithful temple trips to the Mesa Arizona Temple and later to Mexico and the beloved temple in Guatemala City. He asked, what motivated those pioneers in Guatemala to sell their valuables and their properties and risk losing their jobs in order to travel to the temple?

Central America Area President Don R. Clarke said the temple is being built because of the faith of
Central America Area President Don R. Clarke said the temple is being built because of the faith of the members. | Photo courtesy of the Central America Area

"Each of those members possessed a testimony of the sacrifice of the Savior and had a hope that they could live forever with family members who had passed on," Elder Falabella said.

In his remarks, Elder Christensen said the sacred doctrines found in the temple are not new.

"The Garden of Eden was the first sacred place on the earth," he said. "Later there were other temples such a Solomon's Temple which was built with the finest materials. During His earthly ministry, the Savior also frequently visited the temple. Luke wrote that Christ 'taught each day in the temple.'?"

The Book of Mormon, he added, also speaks of temples being built in the New World.

The general and local Church leaders and members were joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Quetzaltenango Mayor Jorge Barrientos Pellecer and Guatemalan Congressman Armando Paniagua. Also present were representatives from Iturbide and Toruno — the construction company that will build the temple.

The groundbreaking ceremony marked a historic moment for pioneers of the Church in this region such as Jorge H. Perez and Moises Juarez. For these faithful men, the event heralded the realization of a dream. A temple would be found in Quetzaltenango. When President Gordon B. Hinckley announced in 2006 the Church's plans to build a temple here, the members of the western mountains of Guatemala rejoiced.

Elder Cordon spoke of the devotion of these men and women.

"The members of these stakes and districts have been among the diligent members to serve in the temple in Guatemala City," he said. "For years they have arrived at the temple in buses after traveling six hours from home. I have no doubt that having a temple in this region will allow them to serve with even greater frequency as they perform the work for their ancestors. I am certain that this new temple will be one of the busiest in Central America."

The future temple in Quetzaltenango is representative of a period of vigorous temple building in Central America. Last summer, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Panama City Panama Temple. Future temples are also planned in San Salvador, El Salvador and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In all, six temples are in operation, under construction or have been announced in Central America.

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