Christmas comes a few weeks early for tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints living in northwest Mexico.
The Tijuana Mexico Temple will be dedicated Sunday, Dec. 13, in three sessions. It will be Mexico’s 13th temple in operation and the 149th in the Church.
With its distinct yet familiar Spanish Colonial design and lush exterior gardens and fountains, Mexico’s newest temple is already something of a landmark in Tijuana. The loveliness of the temple — and public interest in its sacred purposes — drew more than 71,000 visitors to the recent, two-week open house.
“I came here out of curiosity for what I had heard about the Church, and I wanted to see this beautiful building,” said open house guest Alfonso Romo in an interview with a local television station Sintesis TV.
For member Rumalda Santoval Duran, the opening of the Tijuana temple is a special and much-anticipated blessing.
“This [temple] is a privilege for us,” said Sister Duran, who lives in the Baja California Peninsula city of San Quintin. “Before we had to travel [far inland] to Hermosillo to attend the temple.”
Several local civic and religious leaders stopped by for a tour of the 33,367-square foot temple, stretching 151 feet from base to the tip of the angel Moroni statue.
Guests included Mrs. Brenda Ruacho de Vega, the First Lady of Baja California, who was hosted at the temple by Elder Paul B. Pieper, a Seventy and first counselor in the Mexico Area Presidency.
On her Facebook page, the First Lady thanked the Tijuana-area members for the visit: “I am honored to have shared this time with you and have the opportunity to learn more about your values and beliefs.”
Elder Helaman Montejo, an Area Seventy, told Sintesis TV that the temple open house provided a unique opportunity to strengthen friendships with local government and religious officials.
The completed temple prompted news coverage on both sides of the Mexico/United States border.
“Every inch of the 151-foot-tall Tijuana temple exudes craftsmanship,” wrote Tatiana Sanchez in a San Diego Union-Tribune article. “Marble staircases, towering wooden doors, railings made of bronze, open ceilings with crystal chandeliers and floors made of exported material fill its interior.
“Life-size paintings of Jesus Christ line the elaborate hallways, each of which lead to a different room.”
The Tijuana Mexico Temple will serve about 45,000 members living in Tijuana, Rosarito, Tecate, Mexicali, Ensenada, San Luis Rio Colorado Sonora, San Quintin, San Felipe and Guerrero Negro.
Youth from the new temple district will stage a cultural celebration on the eve of the Dec. 13 dedication.
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