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A new landmark by shining seas

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — High above the Costa Rican heartland, near the summit of the active Poas volcano, is a lookout point shrouded in sulfur mist much of the year. But when the sun is agreeable and the clouds part, visitors can enjoy sublime views of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by simply turning their heads.

Now, about an hour's drive from Poas, is a new landmark offering eternal, heavenly vistas to faithful members of the Church. The San Jose Costa Rica Temple was dedicated June 4, 2000 — the Church's 87th temple and the first such structure in southern Central America.

The dedication marked the realization of dreams for thousands of Central American saints — and perhaps the birth of new dreams for millions more.

"Costa Ricans everywhere, members and nonmembers alike, have felt a change in this country," said Henry Obando, who presides over the Costa Rica La Sabana Stake. "Now we are in Zion. Now we are in a country where there is a temple."

President James. E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the temple in three sessions. <!--

The Church is still young in this section of Latin America renowned for its lush beauty, peaceful climate and affable people. Yet members such as President Obando say Costa Rica has experienced a membership burst in recent years after a period of slow, albeit steady, growth.

"When I was baptized in San Jose in 1981, there were only two small branches in my area, now there is a stake," he said. "It is amazing to watch the Church develop and now have a temple of our own."

Maria Elida de Munoz's 34-year tenure in the Church makes her a pioneer among the Costa Ricans, or "Ticos." She cherishes the morning in 1984 when she witnessed the temple dedication of the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. "But I never thought I would attend a temple dedication in my own country," she said.

"Indeed, this country has been blessed," said Elder Gonzalez, who will end his Costa Rican mission at the end of June to begin serving as a Seventy in his native Colombia. "Costa Rica is a country with no military, no wars and there is peace."

The Church also enjoys a local positive image and Costa Rica has a vast library of family history that will prove priceless to future temple patrons, he added.

Now Costa Rica's greatest blessing — its most important historical event, according to President Faust, is the building and dedication of one of the Lord's holy houses.

"Before, I had to cross three [international] borders to visit the temple, now it is only a 15 minute drive," said Mario Javier Jimenez, a Tico who has worked diligently in the Church for 31 years. "When I was baptized there were only four branches in all of Costa Rica, now there are more than 60 units. We are so lucky, so blessed."

Costa Rican members are quick to point out that the Church in their country has been fortified by faithful Panamanian and Nicaraguan members who have immigrated to Costa Rica. Other members from Costa Rica's neighbor countries will bless the area with their visits to San Jose to attend the temple. Many are humble people with hearts sensitive to the voice of the Spirit. An estimated 500 saints from Panama attended the temple dedication, joined by about 150 Nicaraguans.

Norbei Vierti traveled 11 hours with her family from Panama to listen to President Faust's counsel, attend the dedicatory sessions and be sealed to his wife and two children once the temple opened.

"The sacrifice of coming to the temple will result in many blessings," Brother Vierti said. "I've been looking to this day since the day I was married. Today, I'm very happy."

Sister Egneida Delgado de Hernandez is proud to say she has 18 children — and prouder to add they have almost all served missions. She and her husband have taught seminary in their native Panama for 22 years. Now they are doing the same as education missionaries in Costa Rica.

"I don't know how to explain how I felt in the temple today; when I finish my mission I hope to return and work inside the Costa Rican temple," Sister Hernandez said, adding she still dreams of one day enjoying the temple in her homeland.

"It is a great blessing to have a second temple in Central America and a challenge from the Lord to us to lengthen our stride," Nicaraguan member Martin Rios said. Brother Rios joined the Church 26 years ago after meeting a pair of welfare services missionaries who rented a room in his family's Managua home.

Another temple in Latin America, President Obando added, is another historic step in realizing the blessings promised the faithful children of Lehi.

"The temple has already made such a difference in our Church units," he said. "Now there are two kinds of members: those who are ready for the temple, and those who are getting themselves ready for the temple."

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