Work on the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple has started, and members are eagerly keeping track of its progress.
Ground was broken for the first temple in the Caribbean area on Aug. 18 by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve. Some 4,000 members attended the ceremony. Since that time, progress has moved forward on two fronts: in construction, and with members preparing for the temple, said Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy and president of the North America Southeast Area.Regarding construction, excavation for the temple is nearly complete and a local contractor will soon begin placing footings for the foundation. Up to now, excavation of the rocky soil has been done by jackhammers and by hand. First attempts were made to dig through the coral with a bulldozer, but the equipment broke on the hard rock. Next, parallel trenches were dug in hopes that the coral sections between could be broken, but again the hard substance resisted. Finally, jackhammers and hand labor were resorted to, and these have brought the digging to near completion.
The contractor for the building is Caralva S.A. The temple was announced by the First Presidency on Dec. 4, 1993. Construction is expected to be complete within two to three years. The temple is located on a rise in the west part of Santo Domingo at the side of a park for the National Music Conservatory.
Regarding preparation of the members, Elder Howard said several General Authority training sessions for local priesthood leaders have been held.
"They are enthused," said Elder Howard.
Pres. Jose Castro of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Stake agreed that there is a growing excitement among members for the new temple.
"In preparation for the Santo Domingo Temple, the enthusiasm of the members here in the Dominican Republic is considerable," he said. "We are working in the area of obtaining family history information for temple work. Members are to receive help from stake family history specialists. Our goal is to have at least 170,000 names available when the temple doors open."
He said that home teachers and visiting teachers are contacting less-active members to tell them about the temple, in hopes of motivating them to return to activity.
"Many of the less-active members are very receptive to this special invitation, thanks to the temple," continued Pres. Castro. "I know that a great number of the active members are preparing to receive a temple recommend. Many members are calling their bishops, and are ready to enter the temple. When the temple opens, the members want to be within its walls. They want to prepare; it is very important to them."
He said that as the result of training by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and members of the area presidency, local priesthood leaders are becoming more conscientious about their responsibilities.
"They are more dedicated," he said. He noted that in preparation for the temple, "in the year 1996, we took 10 excursions to the Lima Peru Temple. Also another group traveled to the Orlando Florida Temple.
"In 1997, we have made plans and will take nine trips to Peru and other trips to other temples. The members who are preparing themselves for the temple are serving as missionaries and look forward to being temple workers. Their enthusiasm is very, very great."
Pres. Castro said that many children were present at the groundbreaking ceremony. They were invited by Elder Scott to come forward and "turn over a little earth, and many did so."
"In family home evenings, parents teach their children what the temple is and what it is for. They also visit the temple site in anticipation of its construction and keep track of its progress.
"Children are taught to prepare for the temple and of the reverence they must keep while in the temple."
Pres. Castro said he hopes that the great enthusiasm among the members will continue to inspire them after the temple is complete and after families receive their ordinances.