GUADALAJARA, Mexico Emilio Garcia once learned lessons of temples, sacrifice, and love from a 1,000-mile stretch of highway, thoughtful members and a stack of sandwiches.
In 1968, Brother Garcia used his last centavo to pay expenses for himself and his large family to travel north from their hometown of Guadalajara deep inside Mexico's interior to the Mesa Arizona Temple. All the money they had was used to pay for the lengthy trip. Nothing was left for food.
So with brave hearts and empty bellies, the Garcias made their way across the border to Arizona. Blessings awaited them. Their hunger pangs were eased by a group of kind LDS strangers in Nogales, Ariz., who filled up the family with sandwiches. Soon after, their spiritual needs were satiated inside the Lord's temple.
"I still remember the members in Nogales making us sandwiches when we passed through; they knew we would be hungry," said Brother Garcia, an elegant man who now serves as president of the newly dedicated Guadalajara Mexico Temple. "When we returned from the temple, those same people had a cooler stuffed with sandwiches to take for our trip home."
On April 29, members left the dedication of the Guadalajara Mexico Temple the Church's 105th again feeling filled. Church groups throughout the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Sinaloa and other areas gathered at the temple and a neighboring stake center to witness the dedication and listen to counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities.
Following the four dedicatory sessions, hundreds of handkerchief-waving members lined up along the temple grounds saluting President Hinckley and the other departing leaders and welcoming their hopeful future.
"The members here have worked hard for this temple, it is a blessing for all those who have lived the gospel for so many years," said Americo Garcia, president of the Montezuma Guadalajara Mexico Stake and Emilio Garcia's son.
Guadalajaran members called the dedication of Mexico's 11th temple a historic moment adding they were honored to celebrate a special occasion with the prophet and his wife, Marjorie. On the day of the temple dedication, President and Sister Hinckley celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. The Church president expressed his love for his wife and reminded the Mexican members of the blessings of families and love that can be realized via the Guadalajara Mexico Temple.
Pioneer members like President Emilio Garcia say the work is never easy in Guadalajara, a fertile community often regarded as Mexico's most Mexican city. Indeed, this city that gave Mexico the mariachi keeps a firm grip on religious family traditions forged over centuries.
When Juan and Sara Barragan moved to Guadalajara 30 years ago there was but one tiny branch.
"The Church in Guadalajara was criticized strongly in the beginning, so only members with strong testimonies and faith in the work remained active," said Sister Barragan, a lifelong member. "This temple is a miracle."
While the dedicated Guadalajara Mexico Temple has been open only a few days, the edifice has become the city's top missionary, said President Ruben Torres of the Guadalajara Mexico Mission. The public open house gleaned 840 missionary referrals that have already produced six baptisms.
"Many investigators went through the temple open house then came out crying," President Torres said. "The people would hug and express their love to one another. They recognized the temple as a special place where they felt something they have never before felt."
Libardo Espinoza, a young man of the Estancia Ward, Guadalajara Mexico Union Stake, said he was soon going on a split with the full-time missionaries to teach a family that had wandered into the temple open house.
"It is a blessing to have the prophet of the Lord in our land," said Libardo's friend, Jose Luis Sarcedo. "If we listen to President Hinckley's instructions concerning the Lord's will in our land, the members will change. When the members change, our society will change."
The new temple is located near Guadalajara's commercial district and has already caught the eye of the city's rank-and-file. Ask Guadalajara's many cab drivers for a lift to the new temple in this cathedral-rich city they likely won't need directions. The temple's beauty, they say, has preceded its message.
Guadalajarans regard their new temple as both a blessing and a sacred responsibility. The members first have to live worthy to enter the temple, then be prepared to receive its blessings and teachings, said President Americo Garcia.
"This temple is going to strengthen us. It will help us become better people and better families," President Garcia said. "By simply participating in the spirit of the temple, we will become more united Church members."
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