SAO PAULO, Brazil More than 40,000 people toured the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple in its first two weeks of public open house, and another 200,000 are expected to visit before the doors close to the public Feb. 14.
The temple has changed significantly, with a statue of the Angel Moroni added to its spire and the basement finished into additional space. The mechanical systems have also been upgraded. The original furniture, made in the factory of Walter Spat, first president of the first stake in Brazil, was refurbished and remains in excellent condition because of the high quality of the original work. Nearly all of the construction and finish materials came from Brazil.
The temple now has 55,000 square feet.
The first temple in Latin America, the Sao Paulo temple was the only temple in Brazil for just over two decades. For a period, the temple operated 24 hours a day to accommodate the many members who used it.
Today, there are also temples in Campinas, Recife and Porto Alegre; a fifth temple will be constructed shortly in Curitiba. The rededicated temple will serve about 190,000 members in the city of Sao Paulo, and the other temples serve the additional 670,000 Brazilian members.
Many of the members and their friends from throughout Brazil who went through the Sao Paulo temple are among the visitors, as well as others who are only familiar with it from the outside, having never been inside.
The temple closed in August 2002 following the dedication of the Campinas Brazil Temple, which is also in the state of Sao Paulo. The renewed temple opened to the public Jan. 17, and will be rededicated Feb. 22, following a cultural evening for an expected 56,000 spectators.
The open house has received significant coverage in the local media.
Representative of the visitors are D. Idaline de Juazeiro from Bahia, Anderson Monteiro from Belo Horizonte and Maria Graciete from Pernambuco. With efficient and well-prepared organization, more than 800 people an hour were received.
"The organization, the manner in which everything was prepared to receive the visitors, is what most calls attention," said Anderson Monteiro, a leader in Belo Horizonte, who came in a caravan with his family and members from his region.
For Maria Jose Correia, whose son is a member of the Church, the visit served to resolve concerns. "As I had already heard that here in the temple there were many strange things, I came and found out that it is totally different from what they say outside. I found everything very beautiful and I felt great peace."
As they arrived, guests were guided to the chapel next to the temple to view an introductory film, in which President Gordon B. Hinckley explains a little about the importance of this sacred building. Following the film, they follow guides into the temple. Before entering, they put on plastic shoe coverings, assisted by the young men and young women of the Church.
For one of the guides, Marco Aurelio Dutra, it was gratifying to notice the countenance of the visitors as they saw the interior of the temple. "Many said at the end, 'Is it over already?' "
People such as Maira Nadia Pastore and Marcio Rosa Ananias, both investigators, left amazed by the House of the Lord and with an interest to learn more about the Church.
"As soon as I set foot in the temple, I felt something different," Marcio said. They hope to learn more of the sacred ordinances that only a place like this can offer, such as eternal marriage.
Each baptized person who arrives brings the force of his or her own testimony, which makes this building even more select and special than it already is.
This is the case of Maria Graciete da Silva, baptized nine years ago. She has witnessed everything from the placement of the Angel Moroni on the steeple of the Sao Paulo temple in August until this visit. She will take the memory with her as she returns to her native home in Catende, Pernambuco. "It is the house of the Lord. From the moment you enter there, you can't help but leave changed," she affirmed.
Anderson Monteiro, embraced by his son Mateus, proudly announced that on the following day he would celebrate eight years since he had been married there for all eternity with his wife, Jaqueline.
"The temple exceeds all expectations," he said. "It is the expression of heaven here on earth. For anyone who wants to know, it is worth it."
For more information in Portuguese, see: www.saladeimprensa-sud.org.br