Just days before the Thursday, Dec. 17, groundbreaking ceremony of the Mendoza Argentina Temple, President M. Russell Ballard spoke to a group of Argentine Latter-day Saints — reminding them of their special place in God’s plan.
“We love you and the Lord loves you,” the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the Zoom conference. “The people of Argentina are special. Your country is special. … May the Lord bless the Church in Argentina. Let Him bless all you dear Saints.”
Evidence of God’s love for Argentina was on display Thursday when construction commenced on what will become the nation’s fourth temple.
A small gathering of Latter-day Saint leaders gathered Thursday at the future temple site in the north/central city of Mendoza. Attendance was limited due to local COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
Elder Allen D. Haynie, a General Authority Seventy and a member of the South America South Area Presidency, offered the dedicatory prayer and presided over the ceremony. He was joined at the gathering by several local community leaders — including Mendoza Mayor Ulpiano Suarez; the Mayor of the Department of Las Heras, Mayor Daniel Orozco; and the Secretary of the Environment and Territorial Planning of Mendoza, Humberto Daniel Mingorance.
“In this beautiful setting, with a view of the wonderful Andes Mountains behind me, I also want to give a sincere welcome to all who attend this groundbreaking of the Mendoza Argentina Temple … through the use of technology,” said Elder Haynie, as reported by Newsroom.
“We had hoped that more of you could be here with us, but we trust that a gracious Heavenly Father will bless all of us with an abundant portion of His spirit, regardless of where or how we participate in this groundbreaking.”
Elder Haynie was accompanied Thursday by his wife, Sister Deborah Haynie, who also spoke at the event. She focused her message on the Mendoza-area youth of the Church.
“Your family needs you: your ancestors, your current family and your future family,” she said. “My challenge to you is to spend the [coming] years learning to love family history work. If you do, when the doors of this temple open, you will be able to bring the names of your ancestors to perform ordinances on their behalf.”
A few local members also shared their thoughts on the future Mendoza temple.
“The temples, unlike all the other meetinghouses that the Church owns in the world, are exclusive in purpose and function,” said Ruben Sabatino Tideí. “What distinguishes them is not their size or their architectural beauty, but the work that takes place within. … Temples unite families for eternities.”
Abril Manzur, a young member from the Maipú de Cuyo community, said simply knowing a temple would one day be open just a few kilometers from her home, “is a very great blessing, for which I am very grateful. The work of the temples is part of our lives.”
In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Haynie asked for “a special blessing” on the young people living within the future temple district.
“Bless them to come here to Your house with the desire to participate in ordinances for themselves and their ancestors. Bless them so that they feel different when they leave Your house; so that they know with greater certainty who they are; so that they see more clearly that evil was never happiness.”
Elder Haynie also prayed “that others who seek the truth will be drawn to this place, both during and after the construction of the temple.
“Bless them to feel Your presence and wish to know why they feel differently here. Please help them to have receptive hearts and minds to the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Despite the ongoing challenges of the global pandemic, Thursday marked a day to celebrate for this South American nation — and Argentines know how to celebrate. They are synonymous with their love of family, fútbol and hearty cuts of grilled beef.
For Latter-day Saints in Argentina, that trademark passion is felt even stronger in their devotion to the gospel and temple work.
The Church News spoke with Mendoza Argentina Stake President Juan Naccarato moments after President Russell M. Nelson announced plans on Oct. 7, 2018, to build a temple in Argentina’s fourth-largest city.
Latter-day Saints in Mendoza reacted “like we had just scored a goal in the World Cup,” said President Naccarato.
“We have held out hope for a temple for a long time,” he added. “We have a lot of work to do, but we will see so much growth, especially among our youth.”
January 17, 1986, will forever be cherished among members and missionaries linked to Argentina. On that day, President Thomas S. Monson, a counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the country’s first temple, the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency would rededicate that beloved edifice 26 years later.
And just weeks ago, ground was broken on the future Salta Argentina Temple.