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Public open house draws thousands to new Guatemalan temple

Country president and mayor visit sacred edifice in Quetzaltenango

Christmas promises to come a bit early for faithful members in Guatemala.

Latter-day Saints throughout this Central American nation are counting down the days and hours until the Dec. 11 dedication of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. It will be the second such edifice in Guatemala and the first in this mountainous city defined by its Mayan heritage and established devotion to temple service.

The excitement about the opening of the stately granite-walled temple is not limited to the local Latter-day Saint community. Legions of Guatemalans toured the temple during the recent open house. The event offered a chance for people of all backgrounds and faiths to learn about the purpose of the temple and to feel the spirit already evident at the temple site.

Thousands visited the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple during the recent open house event.  The Dec.
Thousands visited the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple during the recent open house event. The Dec. 11 dedication of the Central American nation's second temple will be proceeded by a cultural event that will include scores of local Latter-day Saint youth and young adults. | Photo courtesy of the Central America Area

"The spirit of all of the open house activities was beautiful," said Guatemalan member Julio Alvarado, who once presided over the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Mission. "There were many tears of joy as so many had an opportunity to visit the temple."

The temple open house operated from Nov. 11 to Nov. 26. More than 126,000 people toured the building, including some 16,500 visitors on the final day of the event. Some of the nation's leading government leaders accepted invitations to tour the temple, including Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and four of his cabinet ministers. The mayor of Quetzaltenango, Mr. Jorge Barrientos, also participated in the open house.

Many open house visitors spoke of feeling a spirit of peace and comfort as they walked quietly through the temple baptistry, the sealing and ordinance rooms and the elegant celestial room.

"The temple is a paradise," said Stanley Rony Gramajo, a Catholic visitor. "It was so emotional to see a temple of the Lord. I felt peace, tranquility and great spiritual joy."

Silvia Arcenio described her tour of the temple as "a singular experience — I enjoyed the celestial room and felt emotions that are difficult to describe."

Women and girls don indigenous dress for their visit to the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple open hou
Women and girls don indigenous dress for their visit to the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple open house. | Photo courtesy of the Central America Area

Quetzaltenango resident Astrid Nabet Keylken added, "There are moments that I experienced inside the temple that I will never forget. How beautiful."

Members here have been anticipating these events since the First Presidency announced plans to build Guatemala's second temple on Dec. 16, 2006. The subsequent construction period has been marked by personal development and commitment, as thousands rededicated themselves to the work of the gospel even as they looked to the dedication of the temple.

During the March 14, 2009, groundbreaking ceremony, Church leaders reminded the members that the Church's decision to build a temple in this region of northwestern Guatemala is a reflection of their proven faith.

"The members of these stakes and districts have been among the most diligent members to serve in the temple in Guatemala City," said Elder I. Poloski Cordon, an Area Seventy. "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."

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, is expected to preside over the Dec. 11 dedication of the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. Thousands of youth from the region will perform in an outdoor cultural event the day before the dedication. The Church News will provide extensive coverage of the all of the dedication activities.

jswensen@desnews.com

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