BOGOTA, Colombia Doors of "the most beautiful building ever built in this nation" have been opened to VIPs and the general public, and visitors have responded warmly.
After waiting eagerly for 15 years, Colombian members were able to see the realization of their dreams as the Bogota Colombia Temple open house began March 24 for special visitors, and March 27 for the general public.
The Bogota temple, which was announced during the presidency of President Spencer W. Kimball on April 7, 1984, by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then second counselor in the First Presidency, will be dedicated as the Church's 57th temple on April 24-26.
Some 6,180 people, including construction workers, architects, contractors, and neighbors, toured the temple the first day. The following two days, ambassadors, elected officials, clerics, educators, businessmen and representatives of the media toured the temple.
There to welcome them and to serve as their guides were members of the South America Area presidency: Elder Francisco J. Vinas, president; and his counselors, Elder Robert J. Whetten and Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, all of the Seventy. Also welcoming visitors was Elder Cesar A. Davila, Area Authority Seventy for Colombia.
During the three-week open house for the general public, which will continue through April 17, some 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the first temple in northern South America.
Members in Colombia have been preparing long to make the visit a spiritual experience for each person, said Elder Davila.
"As they leave the temple, visitors reflect the impact from being edified within. Without a doubt, the temple is the most beautiful building ever built in Colombia, and is especially significant in relation to uniting families.
"We heard comments such as, 'While in the temple, we felt far away from the world, and from our problems.'
"Another visitor commented, 'In the beautiful room where we were not to speak, we felt a desire to meditate and reflect.'
"One well-known cleric of a local college, as he left, said, 'We were able to enter a new world.'
"The wife of a prominent businessman commented, 'I wish I could have in my life and in my soul what this building has.'
"Such expressions demonstrate that the temple is fundamental to the mission of the Church, which is to invite all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him," said Elder Davila.