Thousands visit temple

HAMILTON, New Zealand — Christmas lights at the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and Visitors Center were turned on Dec. 13, 12 days before Christmas. Several thousand people attended the opening night and some 700 went through the visitors center for self-guided tours.

Choirs from one of the New Zealand stakes performed and then a visiting dignitary spoke for a few minutes before pushing the "magic button" that turns on every light at once.

Even the temple itself is darkened until this magic moment. The lights slowly start to brighten up on the temple, and by the time the button is pushed, it is fully lit up. At the foot of the temple is the New Zealand Temple Visitors' Center. It is covered with lights and resembles a jewel box. Looking inside the large windows, one can see the majestic statue of the Christus surrounded by 50 blooming poinsettias.

Since it is summertime in New Zealand, the grounds of the temple are immaculate with flowers blooming in all the garden areas. Every palm tree and bush on the temple block is decorated, lit up, and every flower blooming.

Last year, more than 80,000 people visited the grounds. Many people are touched by the spirit of the music and displays and leave their names and addresses for the missionaries to visit.