CURITIBA, Brazil In 1992, President Lyman Daniel Covington, then president of the Brazil Curitiba Mission, told his missionaries that one day there would be a temple in Curitiba, quoting the words of President Spencer W. Kimball who, during the dedication of the Ipomeia meetinghouse in 1953, affirmed: "One day, in this region, there will be a temple of the Lord."
While today neither President Kimball nor President Covington is present, construction of the majestic Curitiba Brazil Temple is well underway, and is expected to be completed next year.
Being built in the Campo Grande neighborhood, the temple is surely the result of work of thousands of people, Brazilians or not, who gave all they had to be worthy to have the temple in the State of Parana, one of the smallest states in Brazil, with a population of approximately 10.2 million. Many are immigrants who moved here from abroad and their descendants. Church membership here comprises about 25,000, in 10 stakes.
Construction of the Curitiba temple was announced in August 2002. The site was personally chosen by President Gordon B. Hinckley, who came here while in Brazil for the rededication of the Sao Paulo Temple in 2004. The Curitiba temple district in Parana will also include the Santa Catarina state, which has 23 stakes.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at the groundbreaking of the temple March 10, 2005. While visiting Curitiba recently, he spoke to more than 500 priesthood leaders and their wives, and extended a challenge to local leaders to prepare their members for the dedication of the temple with three main goals:
- To increase their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- To strengthen their families with ordinances of the temple.
- To teach members about the importance and antiquity of temple work.
He promised: "If you prepare to go to the temple and do the ordinances for yourselves and for your ancestors, you will build a testimony of this work, which you would not achieve otherwise." He also said, "It is perhaps easier to build a temple than it is to prepare the people for a temple."
Also in attendance at this meeting were Sister Wendy Nelson, wife of Elder Nelson; Elder Mervyn B. Arnold, president of the Brazil South Area; his wife, Sister Devonna Arnold; and President David R. Webster, president of the Curitiba Brazil Mission and his wife, Sister Sylvia Webster. Elder Arnold expressed his deep appreciation to Elder and Sister Nelson for their visit, to President and Sister Webster for their diligent efforts to bring many souls unto Christ, and expressed to those present what a blessing the temple will be "as we teach our children and our members to love the temple and to understand the many blessings that will come to each of us as we become worthy and regularly attend the temple."
Surely the Spirit, which emanates from the temple, even though it is still under construction, has already touched the hearts of these members.
A day before the meeting with Elder Nelson, leaders of the Cajuru Ward organized a meeting for its members with a dinner, at which they were encouraged to have personal goals, and to have attendance in the house of the Lord as their major goal.
All present at that meeting were given a picture of the Curitiba temple and a list of goals, which included: To pray in gratitude for the temple; to introduce a friend to the missionaries; to participate in a class of preparation for the temple, to maintain a valid temple recommend; and to gather records on their family history, with names of their four generations, and take their names to the temple.
At the end of that activity, members of the stake departed on two buses for a one-day trip to the Sao Paulo temple. Each ward has a goal to make one monthly trip to the temple. However, members of the Church in Curitiba believe that walking an 'extra mile' is a good way to show their gratitude for the privilege of having a House of the Lord being built in their city.
It has been 80 years since the first missionary walked on this red-colored land, where are many stands of the abundant and ancient native "Araucaria," a Brazilian pine tree. Its Indian name means Curitiba.
The presidency of the Brazil South Area and local leaders of the Church have made efforts to promote both a temporal and spiritual preparation among Church members in this area.
"President Neil L. Andersen gave us all a challenge, including the children, to pay our tithing," said local member Marcelo Vilela Delucca. He said that his son, Nicolas, had a class in Primary, right after the area presidency gave them that challenge. The children were taught a song in which they sang, "I'm Glad to Pay a Tithing," and each child received a little tithing jar to color. Its label said: "My Tithing." They were taught to subtract one out of ten, representing a tenth part that they should give to the Lord. Brother Delucca said that all his sons started to pay their tithing, and continue to do so today.
Another way to prepare to receive such a great blessing of having a temple was participating faithfully in trips to the Sao Paulo temple. Brother Lenilton Cardoso, a former bishop and a stake president in Ponta Grossa, said that such trips were happening frequently. The dedication of the members of the Church in the State of Parana to their family history work also contributed to the building of a sacred temple in their own area.
"We would leave the Ponta Grossa stake center in three buses," he said. "One time, we took 3,000 names in one weekend, and we had our own temple workers. Once, we were presented with a symbolic key to the temple from President Harold B. Hillam of the area presidency, and from temple President Athos Amorim.
"When the temple used to be open overnight, from Fridays to Saturdays, we would work all night long for our ancestors," said Brother Lenilton Cardoso.
Because of their exemplary work, members of that area were called to help patrons who would come from other Latin American countries, because they had learned to officiate in Spanish, walking the "extra mile."