Christmas arrived early for Church members in northern Peru.
The First Presidency's Dec. 13 announcement that a temple would be built in the coastal city of Trujillo drew happy tears and assured the holidays would especially memorable for thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints.
"What a Christmas gift," said Sandra Henriquez of the Trujillo Peru East Stake.
Many of the members living in the future Trujillo temple district learned during a special meeting of local priesthood leaders that the Church planned to construct a second temple in Peru. Word spread fast throughout the region.
"There have been many, many tears," said Trujillo Peru Porvenir Stake President Ismael Diaz. "This is wonderful news. Everyone in Trujillo is thrilled."
South America has enjoyed a historic period of temple building in recent years. A temple can be found in every Spanish-speaking nation in the continent. Meanwhile, five temples are currently in operation in Brazil. The recent Trujillo announcement is a reminder that temple growth in South America continues. Besides Trujillo, temples are planned for Manaus, Brazil, and Cordoba, Argentina.
In its Dec. 13 announcement, the First Presidency commended the members in northern Peru for their devotion and faithfulness and noted that blessings await them inside the future temple.
"We are confident that this will be a blessing to the many faithful Saints in this and surrounding areas who have had to travel long distances to enjoy the blessings of the temple," wrote the First Presidency.
Indeed, faithful members in Trujillo must travel several hours via the storied Pan-American Highway to visit the Lima Peru Temple. Peruvian members living in more distant communities, such as Iquitos and Talara, typically spend days traveling to and from the capital to claim temple blessings, often venturing across land and water.
While overjoyed with the news of the future temple, local priesthood leaders say they are also humbled by their responsibility to best prepare the Trujillo-area members to serve in the new edifice.
"We will need to double our faith," said President Diaz. "This will be a time of great preparation. A time of service. A time of temple worship."
The Trujillo Peru Temple is planned for construction on the site of an existing meetinghouse on Teodoro Valcarcel Street in Urbanizacion Primavera in Trujillo. Once dedicated, the temple will serve more than 88,000 members in the region.
The history of the Church in the region stretches back almost half a century. Missionaries began preaching in Trujillo in 1960. The first baptisms in the original Trujillo Branch were performed in 1961, and the first meetinghouse was dedicated in Trujillo two years later.
President Thomas S. Monson has played a pivotal role in the history of the Church in Trujillo. In January 1978, Elder Monson — then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve — dedicated the first stake center there.