Groundbreaking ceremony held in southern Mexico: ‘Land of temples’

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico — Another temple was started "in a land of temples," as ground was broken Jan. 9 for the Villahermosa Tabasco Temple, Mexico's fifth temple.

Later in the same day, ground was broken in Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico for the nation's sixth temple.

About 200 people attended the ceremony, the group comprised mostly of local leaders and their families. The event was not announced because of the lack of room for a larger audience.

The Villahermosa temple site is located near the coast of Mexico's isthmus in a region of MesoAmerica where ancient ruins proliferate. This region was described by speakers as "a land of temples," where "the doors of heaven have opened." This area is often referred to as a "Book of Mormon land" where many believe that temples existed anciently.

The Villahermosa temple was announced Oct. 30, 1998, a day, according to leaders, that prayers were answered, a day the hopes and sacrifices of the members were richly recompensed.

Elder Richard E. Turley Sr. of the Seventy and first counselor in the Mexico South Area, who was accompanied by his wife, Jean, presided at the morning ceremony.

He spoke of his uncle, Harold E. Turley, who some years ago served as a resident full-time regional representative of the Twelve, and, with his wife, Ireta, resided in a trailer on the site where the temple will be built. They shared a great love for the people of this area.

Also participating at the ceremony were Presidents Benjamin de Hoyos of the Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission and Arturo Antonio Mijangos of the Veracruz Mission, who shared their testimonies. Also sharing their testimonies were Presidents Rodolfo Salas Garcia, Alfredo Anieves Ortega and Raymundo Morales Barrera of the Villahermosa, Villahermosa Gaviotas and Cardenas stakes, respectively.

In attendance at the ceremony were Felipe Goria Marin, state assesor; and Sisters Mirna Otero and Maria Elena Lopez de Balboa, the first convert in Villahermosa and first sister missionary called to serve in Mexico from Villahermosa, respectively. A large choir from the Villahermosa Mexico Gaviotes Stake performed several hymns.

After describing the characteristics of small temples, Elder Turley testified that the Church is led by the Savior, who alone has the power to give salvation to the living as well as the dead. "This is why," Elder Turley said, "temples are, along with the atonement, the greatest gift to mankind, as well as the greatest tool to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of the Savior."

Elder Turley also mentioned that although this temple is smaller in size than some other temples, the same saving and exalting ordinances will be carried out. He reminded leaders that there is much to do to prepare their people so they will be ready in approximately one year when the temple will be dedicated and the doors opened for patrons. He mentioned that temple workers will need to be trained and called to serve.

"Members must now develop within their homes a culture of temple attendance and participation. It is our hope that every member home in the temple district will eventually have a picture of the temple to remind them and their children of the opportunities that can be theirs.

"If you are faithful," Elder Turley said, "the spirituality of the members will increase. There will be a measurable impact on the whole community through the faithfulness of the people and the beauty of the temple and its surroundings."

Following the site dedication, Elder Turley turned over the first shovel of earth and invited the mission and stake presidents to also break ground.