Sarah Jane Weaver: How Mexico City is an example of the Lord hastening His work and blessing His covenant children

In Mexico City, it can take three hours to get across the city to the temple. The 6 recently announced temples for the area will help give members better access to temple blessings.

As October 2022 general conference drew to a close, President Russell M. Nelson announced 18 new temples.

That announcement followed the historic declaration that the Church will build “multiple temples in selected large metropolitan areas where travel time to an existing temple is a major challenge” — including four more temples in the Mexico City area.

The new temples — in Cuernavaca, Pachuca, Toluca and Tula — will join a fifth new temple, near the Mexico Missionary Training Center on the Church’s old Benemérito de las Americas school property, and a temple under construction in Puebla, 65 miles (105 kilometers) away, to complement the existing Mexico City Mexico Temple, located northeast of the city’s center.

When all are complete, Mexico will have 24 temples.

I had never visited Mexico City, but instantly understood something special was about to happen in that metropolitan area of 22 million people — and in other metropolitan areas around the globe.

President Nelson followed the announcement of new temples with an invitation.

“May you focus on the temple in ways you never have before,” he said.

As I heard his words, I thought about Latter-day Saints in Mexico — where the Church has 227 stakes, including five created this year — for whom regular temple attendance would now be possible.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk at the future site of a temple near the Mexico Missionary Training Center in Mexico City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

I traveled to Mexico City — the largest city in North America — to write about President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s weekend ministry visit Dec. 8-11.

Congestion, logistics and heavy traffic are indeed a problem in the vibrant city.

I understood the issue better when Elder Carlos Torres, an Area Seventy, said it can take members up to three hours to get to the temple from some parts of the city. Attending the temple takes all day, said Elder Torres, whose dream is to attend a temple session in the morning and then go to work.

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Elder Sean Douglas, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Mexico Area presidency, said one of the greatest challenges people face in Mexico City is the area’s congestion, which, among other things, limits temple attendance.

Still, “we see that the Mexico City temple is constantly full,” Elder Douglas said, noting that members — undaunted by the traffic — come by the busloads.

At the temple, “you see these buses pull up. And then they leave, and other buses replace them,” said Sister Ann Douglas, who moved to the city in August when her husband, Elder Douglas, joined the area presidency. “And it is like that all the time, five days a week. The line to the baptistry is always out the door. I’ve never seen temple attendance like this in my life. … And they have traveled hours. It is really humbling.”

The Mexico Missionary Training Center in Mexico City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Douglas added: “While congestion in Mexico City provides an opportunity to more freely share the light of the gospel with so many, it also poses logistical pressures to more freely access the temple. More temples in Mexico City will significantly improve access to all the blessings of the gospel for so many existing and new members, thus lightening for them the many burdens and pressures of this world.”

The Church’s first branch in the country was organized in Mexico City in 1879, after portions of the Book of Mormon were translated into Spanish. A stake was not created in the area until 1961. The country now has 32 missions.

Earlier this year, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles summarized what is happening in the country: “This is the time for Mexico.”

Elder Gong’s optimism for Mexico is shared by Latter-day Saints across the globe who see the city as one of many examples of the Lord hastening His work and blessing His covenant children.

The Church will have 300 temples — as of this month, 175 are dedicated temples, 53 under construction and 72 announced temples.

Each temple is a symbol of the simple message President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, conveyed to Latter-day Saints in Mexico City during his recent visit. “I do not have words to tell you how much the Lord loves you,” he said.

President Russell M. Nelson waves to the crowd with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, by his side during the Sunday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 2, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Before announcing the new temple locations during October general conference, President Nelson showed a clip from the new season 4 of the Church’s Book of Mormon Videos — a depiction of the Savior Jesus Christ appearing to the Nephites.

“It is significant that the Savior chose to appear to the people at the temple,” he said, emphasizing that the temple is “His house” and “filled with His power.”

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“Let us never lose sight of what the Lord is doing for us now,” said President Nelson. “He is making His temples more accessible. He is accelerating the pace at which we are building temples. He is increasing our ability to help gather Israel. He is also making it easier for each of us to become spiritually refined.”

He then explained why it matters — to the Church, to the Lord and to each of us: “I promise that increased time in the temple will bless your life in ways nothing else can.”

— Sarah Jane Weaver is editor of the Church News.

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