GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador More than 100,000 visitors are expected to tour the newly opened Guayaquil Ecuador Temple during its nearly monthlong open house that ends July 17.
From June 23 to July 5, a total of 37,858 people had visited the new edifice, including business and cultural leaders and a number of radio, television and newspaper reporters who publicized the event in the media throughout Ecuador. Their reporting has been very positive, said Church leaders.
The first temple in this land will be dedicated Aug. 1-2 in eight sessions. It will be the Church's 58th operating temple. Ecuador has a population of some 12 million people with about 157,000 members in 32 stakes and 233 wards.
Elder Francisco J. Viñas of the Seventy and president of the South America North Area welcomed VIP and media visitors to the temple June 23-25. He was joined in hosting the visitors by Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, second counselor in the area presidency and an Area Authority Seventy, and Elders Cesar Davila, Horacio Araya and Francisco Jimenez, all Area Authority Seventies. Elder Davila is the temple recorder.
Elder Viñas said he personally escorted the mayor and other officials of the city to the temple, and they were deeply impressed.
The first to visit the temple were the contractors and their families, neighbors living near the temple, and the media. Among the media were representatives of seven television channels, a radio station, seven newspapers and two magazines, a total of 62 including photographers.
The press toured the temple in an atmosphere of complete cordiality, said those who hosted them. Among the media hosts were Blackie de Araya, area director of public affairs; Guillermo Granja, vice chairman of the temple committee; and Roger Sears, temple construction supervisor.
"The press participated with important and respectful questions regarding our beliefs, the temple ordinances and the programs of the Church for the family," said Elder Viñas.
Following the media reception on June 24, the leaders hosted 470 VIP visitors whose interest and many questions prolonged the day until nearly 11 p.m. Some of those invited were prominent in business and cultural affairs of Guayaquil.
On the following day, June 25, an additional 500 VIP visitors toured the temple. "It was an arduous day, and when night came, there were so many visitors still waiting that it was necessary to request the assistance of stake presidents as well as two visitors from Church headquarters as guides," said Elder Davila. "Just as the last of the visitors were leaving, the volunteers at the temple were pleased with the arrival of Pres. J. Lynn Shawcroft and his wife, Dorothea, the new president and matron of the temple."
After VIP tours, the temple doors were open to the general public, who came at an average of about 1,800 per day except on Saturdays when the attendance jumped to 5,400 on June 26 and to 15,200 on July 3, respectively.
Among those who participated as volunteers were members of the Guayaquil Ecuador Pascuales Stake, one of the most distant and least-affluent areas in the city.
"A group of 50 of these members arrived one night at the temple about 11 p.m. to assist the maintenance supervisor and his team of employees in cleaning the House of the Lord," said Elder Davila. "This group participated with great enthusiasm and love in their project, returning to their homes well after midnight."