What Latter-day Saints are saying about new temples in Kiribati, Vanuatu, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia and Utah

By introducing the locations of six new temples at the conclusion of the Sunday afternoon session of October 2020 general Conference, President Russell M. Nelson has announced 49 new temples in the less than three years of leading The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The new temples announced Sunday, Oct. 4, are:

  • Tarawa, Kiribati
  • Port Vila, Vanuatu
  • Lindon, Utah
  • Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Sao Paulo East, Brazil
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia

“As we build and maintain these temples, we pray that each of you will build and maintain yourself so you can be worthy to enter the holy temple,” said President Nelson, who had reminded listeners “the Lord’s ordinances and covenants prepare us for eternal life, the greatest of all God’s blessings.”

Tarawa, Kiribati 

The Tarawa Kiribati Temple will be the first in the Pacific nation comprising 36 Micronesian islands, an independent republic since 1979. 

“We wept with joy when we heard the news of the temple [in Kiribati],” said Adolf J. Johannsson, a Fiji resident who was released as an Area Seventy on Saturday after presiding over the Kiribati units for six years. “This is a realization of the prophecy that the Lord will gather his people from all the ends of the earth.” 

When the future temple is ultimately dedicated in Tarawa,” he added, “it will stand as a beacon of the fullness of the gospel for all to see.” 

Nearly 21,000 Latter-day Saints in two stakes and 37 congregations reside in Kiribati. A dozen students from Kiribati traveled to attend Liahona High School in Tonga and converted to the Church there, returning home and becoming Kiribati’s first missionaries in 1975. Other key dates for the island nation include the dedication of the first Church-built building in 1982 and the creation of the nation’s first stake — the Tarawa Kiribati Stake — by Elder L. Tom Perry in 1996.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Sunday afternoon session of the 190th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 4, 2020. During the conference, the Church president declared the importance of Latter-day Saints eschewing racism and prejudices of all forms. | Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Port Vila, Vanuatu 

Vanuatu Port Vila Mission President J. Benoit Duquette and his wife, Sister Marie Simone Duquette, were enjoying President Nelson’s concluding general conference message from their living room in the mission home when they heard the news that Vanuatu would one day have a temple. 

“We could not contain our emotions,” he told the Church News, his voice cracking. “It’s still difficult. Today we think about all the past missionaries and leaders and members who have labored here under difficult circumstances.” 

Many of the Latter-day Saints on the island nation, he added, live humbly. “They have nothing but what they grow from their gardens.” 

Still, they are eager to build Zion in their homeland. But given such economic challenges, traveling to the nearest temple in, say, Fiji or New Zealand, is an impossibility for many Latter-day Saints. 

“Now a temple in Vanuatu will allow them to have all the blessings of the gospel.” Vanuatu is home to more than 10,000 members in one stake, three districts and 37 congregations. This will be the first temple for the South Pacific Ocean nation made up of some 80 islands. 

"The people of Vanuatu have been longing to have a temple, and this an answer to our prayers," said Vanuatu native Nia Lani. "The sacrifices that the members have [made] together to get this far is a great blessing and [the temple] will be a blessing to the generations yet to come."

"It's a tender mercy that, as an individual, I will continue to strive to live worthy to claim the blessings that the temple will bring."

A branch in Port Vila was organized in 1973, with missionary work beginning in Vanuatu the next year after several Latter-day Saint families from Tonga moved there. The first full-time missionaries arrived in January 1975. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Vanuatu during a 2003 tour of Pacific islands, drawing an attendance in Port Vila of 2,212. The full Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ was published in the Bislama language in July 2004.

Lindon, Utah 

A temple in Lindon is the seventh temple in Utah announced by President Nelson and the Church’s 25th in the state. 

The Church president previously announced two temples that are already under construction (Layton and Orem), two with groundbreakings scheduled in coming weeks (Taylorsville and St. George’s Red Cliffs), and two that are awaiting the announcement of groundbreakings (Tooele Valley and Syracuse). 

Lindon Utah Central Stake President Michael Lloyd told the Church News he was “surprised and thrilled” to learn Sunday that his community would have a temple of its own. “What a blessing it will be,” he said, adding that the temple announcement is another reminder of the importance of remaining “on the covenant path.” 

President Lloyd noted that the temples in neighboring Utah Valley communities “are filled to capacity once the doors open each morning — and there are always lines of youth.” Utah County is, of course, densely populated by Latter-day Saints and several temples are short drives away. Still, news of a future temple offers Lindon residents a sacred opportunity to better themselves and prepare to serve. 

“We will do the best we can knowing Christ is waiting to receive our offering,” said President Lloyd. 

Utah is home to 17 dedicated temples — including the Salt Lake and St. George temples that are under renovation — and another temple under construction in Saratoga Springs. More than 2.12 million Latter-day Saints reside in Utah in 604 stakes and 5,229 congregations.

Greater Guatemala City, Guatemala 

More than 281,000 Latter-day Saints reside in Guatemala, with the Church having 51 stakes, 438 congregations and seven missions in the Central American nation. Missionaries arrived in Guatemala in 1947, with the first official meeting held the next year. The temple in the Greater Guatemala City area will be the second in the capital city, with the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple dedicated in 1984. 

“It is exciting to see how the work of God advances without limits,” said Guatemala Palmita Stake President Byron López. “I’m especially thrilled to learn that Guatemala has again been chosen by the Lord for the building of another Temple, His house. 

Latter-day Saints listen to Elder Ulisses Soares speak during a stake conference in Guatemala on Sunday, Feb. 9. | Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“I cannot express in words the gratitude that I feel knowing there will be a new temple in Guatemala City which will bless the lives of many members of the Church, as well as non-members of the Church.” 

Guatemala native Yolanda Ortiz added her country has been blessed with “beautiful landscapes and good people.” Now the nation will be enriched by another temple. 

The Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple was dedicated on Dec. 11, 2011, by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. 

The groundbreaking for the country’s third temple — the Cobán Guatemala Temple, announced by President Nelson a year ago — is scheduled for next month.

Sao Paulo East, Brazil 

Sunday’s announcement to build a second temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was a shock to Jose de Paiva Neto and his Latter-day Saint friends living in Brazil’s most populous city. “We were not expecting any temples to be announced during the pandemic, so to learn that another would be built in Sao Paulo has brought much excitement,” said de Paiva Neto, a member of more than 50 years. 

The future temple will bless members who live far from the original Sao Paulo temple, “and also bring about progress, just like the first temple did to this region,” he said. Brazil has more than 1.42 million Latter-day Saints in 277 stakes and 2,142 congregations as well as 35 missions and now 12 Church temples. 

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson are given a drawing by Wesley Silva in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. | Jeffrey D. Allred

The South America country has seven dedicated temples — in São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Recife, Curitiba, Campinas, Manaus and Fortaleza — and the eighth in Rio de Janeiro waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to pass to reschedule its postposted open house and dedication. Temples are under construction in Belém and Brasília, with an additional temple in planning and design in Salvador. 

Missionaries first visited Brazil in 1928, working first with German-speaking people, with the first converts coming in 1928. A branch was organized in 1930 and Saõ Paulo was opened to missionary work in 1937, with a Brazilan mission headquartered there the same year.

Santa Cruz, Bolivia 

“We are so excited,” said Bolivia native Guizella Rocabado after hearing President Nelson announce a temple would be built in the interior city of Santa Cruz. “Our country has gone through hard times in recent years with civil unrest, and now the coronavirus. This blessing is so timely.” 

Rocabado’s late father, Gustavo Rocabado, served as the engineer of Bolivia’s original temple in Cochabamba. She witnessed the many ways such an edifice can better the lives of Latter-day Saints and entire communities. 

The future Santa Cruz temple, she said, “will help many find answers to their questions.” Bolivia counts more than 212,000 Latter-day Saints in 33 stakes and 270 congregations. The temple in Santa Cruz — the South American nation’s largest city — will be Bolivia’s second. The first, in Cochabamba, was announced in 1995 and dedicated in 2000. Missionaries entered Bolivia in 1964 from the Andes Mission, with the first baptisms occurring later that year and the first branches opening in 1966.

A dad gives his daughter a boost above the crowd to get a better look at President Russell M. Nelson
A dad gives his daughter a boost above the crowd to get a better look at President Russell M. Nelson, during a Sunday devotional in the Polideportivo Heroes de Octobre in El Alto, Bolivia, on Oct. 21, 2018. | Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

'We look forward to the day'

Following the announcement of the new temples, President Nelson reviewed the temporary closure of all Church temples due the global COVID-19 pandemic and the carefully coordinated, four-phased plan for reopenings.

“With Phase 2 now in place in many temples, thousands of couples have been sealed, and thousands have received their own endowments just in the past few months,” President Nelson said. “We look forward to the day when all worthy members of the Church can again serve their ancestors — and worship — in a holy temple.”

With the announcement, the Church now has 231 temples in various stages of operation, construction and planning. Its 168 dedicated temples include eight closed for lengthy renovations, with another 22 under construction and 41 under planning and design.

The 49 temple locations announced by President Nelson are found in 28 nations and territories, over six continents and on ten islands through the earth’s oceans and seas.

And of the 49, 10 temples are already under construction, with another 12 scheduled to begin by the end of 2020. Official sites for another six previously announced temples have been released, with five of those including exterior renderings.

Nations with multiple temples announced by President Nelson include Argentina and the Philippines with three each; Brazil, Guatemala, Nigeria with two; and the United States and its territories with 16 total — seven alone in the state of Utah.

Temples announced over three years

Sustained and set apart as the 17th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple, the 96-year-old President Nelson has presided over six general conferences and has announced new temple locations in each.

April 2018

In Sunday afternoon session of the April 2018 conference, he announced seven new temple locations. Of the seven, the Layton Utah and Richmond Virginia temples are under construction, and two others — Salta Argentina and Bengaluru India — are scheduled for groundbreaking by year’s end.

October 2018

In the Sunday afternoon of the October 2018 conference, President Nelson announced locations for 12 new temples. Half of those are already under construction — the San Juan Puerto Rico, Auckland New Zealand, Puebla Mexico, Yigo Guam, Praia Cabo Verde and Feather River California temples. Another three — the Mendoza Argentina, Davao Philippines and Red Cliffs Utah temples — will have ground broken in 2020, and an exterior rendering and site location have been released for the Phnom Penh Cambodia Temple.

April 2019

In the Sunday afternoon session of the April 2019 conference, he announced eight new temple locations, with the San Pedro Sula Honduras Temple already under construction. Three more — the Moses Lake Washington, Okinawa Japan and Antofagasta Chile temples — will have groundbreakings in the next three months, while renderings and sites have been released for the Pago Pago American Samoa, Neiafu Tonga and Tooele Valley Utah temples.

October 2019

President Nelson announced another eight new temple locations in the October 2019 conference — this time during the Saturday evening women’s session. The Orem Utah Temple is already under construction, with four more set for groundbreakings in late 2020 — the Taylorsville Utah, Bentonville Arkansas, McAllen Texas and Cobán Guatemala temples. Also, the Port Moresby Papua New Guinea Temple has had its rendering and location released.

April 2020

At the conclusion of the April 2020 general conference, he announced eight new temple locations, all of which remain in the initial planning and design stages. A site location for the Syracuse Utah Temple has been announced.

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