During his recent visit to Honduras to dedicate this country's first temple, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recognized three characteristics that are typical for the wonderful members of Honduras:
1. A love of God.
2. A love of family.
3. A love of country.
That three-pronged devotion makes faithful Latter-day Saint Hondurans a natural fit for the temple, observed President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. A dedicated temple is, after all, a sacred instrument that deepens and refines one's relationship with God, family and country.
Honduran members rejoice at being called a "temple people." It was almost seven years ago that the Church announced plans to build this Central American nation's first temple. The members here have learned lessons in patience and perseverance during that time as they waited for their temple to be completed.
Now their faith has been rewarded. On March 17, President Uchtdorf dedicated the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple. Hundreds participated in the three dedicatory sessions held inside the edifice, while thousands of others throughout Honduras and Nicaragua viewed the proceedings live via closed circuit broadcasts to local meetinghouses.
"It has been a joyful day," President Uchtdorf told the Church News following the final dedicatory session. "It has been a historic day, not only for Honduras but for all of Mesoamerica."
He was assisted at the dedication by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Gregory A. Schweitzer of the Seventy. The Central America Area Presidency — Elder James B. Martino, Elder Carlos H. Amado and Elder Kevin R. Duncan, all of the Seventy — also participated.
"It's been a wonderful day from start to finish," said Elder Holland moments after the Brethren and their wives shook hands and exchanged abrazos, or friendly embraces, with hundreds of members outside the temple. "The spirit of the day increased from session to session until it reached a crescendo in the final session."
While the Church's 141st temple is not the first in Central America — it's the sixth — folks who have watched the Church grow here over the past many decades are quick to confirm the spiritual capacity of the members in Honduras and Nicaragua.
Vernon Brigham served as the second mission president in Honduras, leading the missionary work there from 1982-85. At that time, many of the local priesthood leaders had never been inside a temple. So President Bingham arranged to have all the district presidents over whom he presided attend the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. Those temple visits, he said, forever changed the Church in Honduras. The faithful were taking the first steps to becoming a temple-going people, even in the most difficult external circumstances.
"Visiting the temple helped them see the big picture," said President Bingham's wife, Sister Bernice Bingham.
Now 90 and living in Mesa, Ariz., President Bingham has spent the past several years anticipating the day a temple would open in Honduras. He knows it will forever change a country he loves.
Elder Amado is a native of Central America. He knows firsthand the impact the new temple in Tegucigalpa will have in Honduras and in neighboring Nicaragua. He has seen it in other nations, including his homeland of Guatemala.
Much of Central America, he said, is troubled by economic and security instability. There are hard times here. But the Lord's gospel offers hope and peace — and the Honduras temple is the house of the Lord.
"The temple teaches us that life is not a tragedy," said Elder Amado. "The temple teaches us that life is an opportunity."
Tegucigalpa resident Gary Flores said he and his fellow members here are anxious to assume the sacred responsibilities that come from living so close to a temple.
"We have no excuses not to do this work," he said. "No one can say the temple is too far away."
Brother Flores said the Honduran members demonstrated their love for the temple during the recent open house, bringing family and friends inside the stately new edifice that assumes a prominent vista in the southeast end of this capital city. Thousands of missionary references were collected during the open house period.
The cultural event, with 4,300 youth participating from all over Honduras, featured a spiritual message, "We'll Bring the World His Truth," and paid tribute to the history of this nation. It was broadcast live on national television.
President Uchtdorf is certain that with this new temple, the faith of the members of Central America has been rewarded. He paid tribute to the patience of the Saints in Honduras who faithfully traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala, to attend the temple for nearly 30 years sinces its dedication in 1984. The Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple was announced by the First Presidency in June 2006. The seven years since the announcement have been happy ones, President Uchtdorf said, as the Saints patiently awaited completion of their own temple in Honduras.
He acknowledges that even though he is not from this area, he shares with them a deep spiritual kinship and that visiting the members in Central America is like coming home. He recognizes his own love for President Thomas S. Monson whenever one of the Honduran members asks him to pass along their love to the prophet.
He left Honduras confident that the temple and those who will worship there are being watched over by the Lord.
"The Church here is in good hands."