SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR
The tens of thousands who recently visited the open house of the San Salvador El Salvador Temple were welcomed to a distinctly Salvadoran edifice.
Many of the paintings and artwork inside depict the Salvadoran landscape, while the country's national flower, the Flor de Izote, can be found in many of the temple's interior ornamentation.
Visitors were also greeted with the warmth that is emblematic of the Salvadoran people and the more than 100,000 Latter-day Saints who call this Central American nation home.
The open house began June 28 and ran through July 23. The temple is the first of its kind in El Salvador, so the month-long event offered local members a unique opportunity to share their love for the temple with their friends, relatives and neighbors.
It also offered an opportunity for legions of Salvadorans of all backgrounds to learn why the temple is so important in the lives of Church members. In all, 165,790 people toured the temple interior and lush exterior grounds. More than 14,000 people visited on Saturday, July 16, alone.
There they viewed the temple's baptistry, sealing and ordinance rooms and the peacefully majestic celestial room. They learned about the restoration of Christ's gospel and His priesthood. Many members testified about the sacred purpose of the San Salvador temple and of the reality of eternal families.
It's evident that many visitors were touched by what they saw and heard. More than 22,000 filled out comment cards and almost 5,000 asked for a follow-up visit from the full-time missionaries.
The temple open house included visits from a variety of Salvadoran government and cultural leaders. Almost 200 government officials toured the temple along with 27 representatives from other religions. Hundreds of local business leaders along with some 50 media members were also counted among the visitors.
Several newspapers and television and radio stations covered the historic event.
Local member Carlos Ruiz told the Diario El Mundo newspaper that the San Salvador El Salvador Temple represents the best his country has to offer.
"The Church is growing in our country and our leader, President Thomas S. Monson, and other leaders are blessing us through their work."
Brother Ruiz went on to say that the new temple would help improve the lives of Salvadorans throughout the country.
The dedication of the San Salvador El Salvador Temple is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 21 in three sessions.