Manaus Brazil temple: Legacy of sacrifice, ‘The hands of God have touched the people of Manaus’

MANAUS, BRAZIL

Two decades ago a group of faithful Latter-day Saints from the Amazon River Basin embarked on a 15-day journey by boat and bus to the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple.

The steeple of the Manaus Brazil Temple, dedicated June 10 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, can be see from the banks of the Rio Negro River in Manaus, Brazil.
The steeple of the Manaus Brazil Temple, dedicated June 10 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, can be see from the banks of the Rio Negro River in Manaus, Brazil. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News
Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

Many in the small caravan — the first to depart from Manaus, Brazil — sold their land and belongings to reach the temple. Some became sick on the journey; the muscles of others cramped after sitting for long hours in the same crowded position.

Still “they arrive absolutely happy, with hope in their hearts, with faith they did what was acceptable to God,” said Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy and president of the Church’s Brazil Area. “They gave all that they had to receive the blessings to be an eternal family.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriot, and Elder Quenton L. Cook and his wife, Mary, partiicpate in events surrounding the dedication and cultural celebration of the Manaus Brazil Temple June 10, 2012.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriot, and Elder Quenton L. Cook and his wife, Mary, partiicpate in events surrounding the dedication and cultural celebration of the Manaus Brazil Temple June 10, 2012. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

The journey they started on the banks of the Rio Negro River culminated June 10, 2012, when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf dedicated the Manaus Brazil Temple, located on a bank of the same river.

President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said the faith and commitment of pioneering Latter-day Saints in Manaus could be likened to the great river. Both flow deep and strong, he said.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf's wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

During the cornerstone ceremony for the 32,032-square-foot temple, President Uchtdorf praised the legacy left in Manaus today by pioneer Latter-day Saints of a generation ago.

“Who would have thought [30 years ago] that right here on the Rio Negro River there would be this beautiful edifice of a temple,” he said.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife Harriet.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife Harriet. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

Then he added, “Now let us go forward and finish the work.”

After applying mortar to the cornerstone himself, he called on others in attendance to do the same. Sister Harriet Utchdorf, President Uchtdorf’s wife, was followed Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Mary; Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department and his wife, Vicki; members of the Brazil Area Presidency — Elder Costa, Elder Carlos A. Godoy and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi — and members of the temple presidency.

President Uchtdorf then called children — “the future of the Church” — to come forward.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf's wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

Torrential rain — or, as President Uchtdorf dubbed it, “liquid sunshine” — began to fall as the cornerstone ceremony ended.

The Manaus Brazil Temple is the 138th worldwide and the sixth in Brazil — where there are now more than 1.1 million Church members attending 1,925 congregations throughout the country.

Located in the Northern Brazil’s Amazon River Basin, Manaus is city isolated by large rivers and dense forests. Travelers must go by boat or plane to other areas of Brazil.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf greets children after the dedication of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf greets children after the dedication of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

Once the hub of the world’s rubber industry, Manaus is populated today by more than 1.7 million residents who make up a vast industrial pool.

Many Church members have left southern Brazil and moved north to find work.

Brother Jo? Roberto Silva said the people of the north and northeast of Brazil are “gentle and full of faith.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf's wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News
Elder Quentin L. Cook shakes hands with visitors at the Manaus, Brazil Temple dedication.
Elder Quentin L. Cook shakes hands with visitors at the Manaus, Brazil Temple dedication. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

In 1978 the first Latter-day Saint congregation in Manaus was organized. Continued growth led to the organization of the first stake in 1988. Today there are approximately 30,000 members and eight stakes in Manaus; the Church owns 30 meetinghouses in the city.

Members of the Church's Brazil Area Presidency participate in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Temple dedication on Sunday, June 10.
Members of the Church’s Brazil Area Presidency participate in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Temple dedication on Sunday, June 10. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

President James E. Faust, who served in the First Presidency until his death in 2007, was an honorary citizen of Sao Paulo, but also had a special love for the people of the Amazon River Basin. President Uchtdorf said he always hoped for the day Manaus would have a temple.

Adalberto Souza, second counselor in the Manaus Brazil Temple presidency and a pioneering member in the city, said the new temple “represents the love of God for the people in the Amazon.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

For almost 20 years, since the first group of Latter-day Saints from Manaus sacrificed to visit the temple, members have been traveling by caravan to attend the temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil — a 15-day round trip journey by boat and bus — and then Caracas, Venezuela — an eight-day journey by bus. Often buses broke down, and on one occasion a bus was assaulted by robbers; later a bus wrecked traveling home from Caracas. (Please see article on page 6.)

Noting that opportunity to do temple work without huge sacrifices, Brother Souza said the temple “is a peace of Heaven for us.”

Many children attended the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple.
Many children attended the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News
Temple presidency of the Manaus Brazil Temple participates in the cornerstone ceremony Sunday, June 10, 2012.
Temple presidency of the Manaus Brazil Temple participates in the cornerstone ceremony Sunday, June 10, 2012. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

President Souza traveled in two caravans to Sao Paulo and 12 to Caracas. In 1993, he was challenged by his stake president to take his entire family to the temple — a task he accomplished despite the $1,200 cost during a time of 90 percent inflation.

“I could see with my own eyes how difficult it was for the Saints to go to Sao Paulo to the House of the Lord,” he said. “I know the great value these people have. They will do everything they can so this house will be very busy all the time.”

Dorivaldo Graciano, first counselor in the Manaus Temple Presidency, received the Manaus caravans as a temple worker in San Paulo.

Choir performs for President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012.
Choir performs for President Dieter F. Uchtdorf during the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

In 2001, after masked robbers attacked a caravan headed for the temple, President Graciano said the Manaus members arrived in Sao Paulo without money, travel documents or other possessions. “They proved their faith,” he said. “They returned home happy and the caravans continued.”

The temple in Manaus is an answer to the prayers of the people, he said.

Manuel Viracu Macedo, patriarch of the Ponta Negra Stake, joined the Church in 1982 in Manaus. “I always knew in my heart we would have a temple in Manaus one day,” he said. “We have had the privilege to see the growth of the Church in Manaus and now the temple.”

Members, he said, never looked at the long temple caravans as a sacrifice. “We looked at it as a blessing,” he said.

Now with a temple in their city “the people of Manaus will have an opportunity to give Heavenly Father their best. … Because the temple is here, they can do more.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducts the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf's wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducts the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

For example, Pedro Acosta, who worked to organize the first temple caravan, cried the first time he walked into the Beehive clothing store in Manaus.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf's wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf participates in the cornerstone ceremony of the Manaus Brazil Temple Sunday, June 10, 2012. Also participating are President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet, and Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Mary. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News

“We had a dream about the temple,” said Francisco Reghin, an early branch president in Manaus. “Now the dream is realized.”

Herminia Gutierrez de Arballo put it another way: “The hands of God have touched the people of Manaus.”

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