PRAIA, Cabo Verde — Less than 600 meters — or 2,000 feet — from where one Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated Cabo Verde for the preaching of the gospel 28 years ago, another Apostle dedicated the new Praia Cape Verde Temple.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated the Praia temple Sunday, June 19, in three sessions. The location on Cidade de Lisboa Avenue — in the capital city’s old town center called “Plateau” on a raised area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean — is just southwest of where then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks dedicated the 10-island nation off the west coast of Africa in 1994.
In his dedicatory prayer for the temple, Elder Andersen acknowledged the efforts of President Oaks, now the first counselor in the First Presidency.
Elder Andersen was accompanied during the dedication-weekend events by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, a General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Europe North Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Fabiana Alliaud.
In addition to the cornerstone ceremony outside during the morning’s first dedicatory session, Sister Andersen, Elder Duncan and Elder Alliaud joined the Apostle in speaking at different times during one of the three sessions. Other speakers included the temple presidency, matrons and assistant matrons, and three local youth.
Elder Andersen asked if several children would help him apply mortar to the cornerstone in a ceremony symbolic of completing the temple construction and recognizing Christ as the cornerstone of the Church.
Blessing the people of Cabo Verde
Now that the house of the Lord is dedicated and set to be operational, what does that mean to the people of Cabo Verde?
“First of all, to the entire country it will be a beacon of light and truth,” Elder Andersen answered. “This house is a testament to the immortality of the soul.”
The temple is a place of endowment, which he described as “a gift given of enlightenment, of testimony and of understanding.”
He continued: “That endowment of knowledge, when acted upon with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, provides strength and conviction. It helps us become who we are to become. And as more and more in this country are endowed in this house of the Lord, there will be a strengthening of the power among our people on every island, in every ward and branch.”
The holy house of the Lord becomes a place of receiving revelation and a refuge of peace, and it is a place where Latter-day Saints fulfill their responsibilities to those who have passed on, Elder Andersen said. “Think of the good men and women who have lived their lives in these islands and who have, in the spirit world, increased their faith in Jesus Christ and are awaiting these ordinances.”
‘Holiness to the Lord’
During the dedication weekend events — Saturday’s meetings with full-time missionaries, pioneer members and the youth and Sunday’s three dedicatory sessions — Elder Andersen underscored the “Holiness to the Lord” description engraved above the temple’s entrance, calling it “a sacred thought, clothed in spiritual power.”
In the temple, one comes to learn, feel and know what holiness really means, he said. “Holiness to the Lord is much more than the words; it is something we are taught in the soul.”
The temple is where one comes to understand who the Savior really is and His holiness, he said.
“These are things not understood with eyes and words only; they are understood with our hearts and souls,” Elder Andersen said. “Here we come to feel His holiness, and as we do, we deepen our desire for our own small measure of holiness.”
Holiness to the Lord takes increased meaning in one’s life by developing a character and purity that reflect His holiness, the Apostle said. “Our appreciation, our adoration of Him humbly moves our soul to want to emulate Him.”
About the temple in Cabo Verde
The Praia Cape Verde Temple becomes the Church’s 173rd temple, dedicated just five weeks after the Yigo Guam Temple on an island in the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the globe.
The two share a number of commonalities, besides their isle-of-the-sea locations. Both temples were announced by President Russell M. Nelson in October 2018 general conference. Both had groundbreaking ceremonies and site dedications on May 4, 2019 — Praia’s by Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy.
And both temples have one instruction room, one sealing room and one baptistry, with the flexibility to interchange instruction and sealing rooms or have two of one or another at any time as needed.
The Praia temple is 8,759 square feet, built on 4.46-acre site that includes a new stake center. The temple features a dome and spire above its entrance, reflective of local architecture and design.
Although the Praia temple is the sixth associated with the African continent, Cabo Verde pertains to the Church’s Europe North Area.
What the members are saying
By having a temple in Cabo Verde, the members will be able to witness and feel the captivating power pushing them to gain great spiritual maturity, said President Leonel da Cruz, president of the Praia Cape Verde Stake. “I can see that everyone understands the great responsibility of keeping their personal worthiness to go inside and have their ordinances done. And the blessings are already visible.”
His desire is that all members have current recommends and that the youth are able to attend repeatedly and learn in their early years.
Alice da Cruz, wife of President Cruz, said the spotlight on the Praia temple allows Latter-day Saints worldwide to gain greater appreciation for their peers on the islands. “Church members in Cabo Verde are humbling and welcoming,” she said. “They are people who respect religious freedom, who strive to live the gospel in their family, where wards and branches are constantly growing.”
Jaqueline Lopes of the Praia 1st Ward said that being a member in Cabo Verde with a new temple at hand means “to be one of the ‘angels on earth’ chosen by our Heavenly Father to serve as an instrument in His hands. And the temple helps me recharge for such a mission and do sacred ordinances with my Heavenly Father — one of which is to be sealed to my family for all eternity.”
And Eliane Freire Tavares of the Praia 4th Ward added: “Knowing that Cabo Verde now has a temple means that the people here are ready for new challenges, because God ordered them to prepare a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith and glory, a house for Him. I love to say that chapels are like a school, and the temple is the university we don’t go through before finishing school first.”
The Church’s new chapter in Cabo Verde
One could say that Carlos Freire Veiga wrote the book on the Church’s history on Cabo Verde — he has done several television and radio interviews in Praia after publishing “Do Ramo ao Templo” (“From Branch to Temple”) about the three decades of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the island nation.
Along with others, he has witnessed the impact of the temple construction and open house that drew 10,000 visitors — including the country’s president and prime minister — and anticipates more with its opening soon for ordinance work and worship.
“You can already see that with the open house events. Never in its history has the Church been so portrayed [positively] in social networks and media. The temple is, in fact, the new postcard of the city of Praia and Cape Verde, and because of it, both members and non-members have turned to reflect on their being sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father.”
Many non-members wonder how they can become a member of the Church, Feira said, adding that Cabo Verdeans who had never expressed an interest before now speak of the Church with optimism.
“The temple is thus a landmark for missionary work in Cape Verde and in itself will attract people to the Church. If we members know how to receive the people who will come to the Church in the near future, Cape Verde will have more stakes — and why not another temple?”
Seeking ‘complete’ families
President David J. Wunderli and Sister Diane Wunderli, president and companion of the Cape Verde Praia Mission, say the new temple and its open house have created a new interest and atmosphere on the islands. “The common denominator for everybody who came was ‘I felt peace; I felt love,’” President Wunderli said. “I can’t tell you how many said, ‘How do I join this church?’”
Sister Wunderli noted that the culture of Cabo Verde is family-oriented, saying Cabo Verdeans “really resonate to family.”
President Wudnerli described the island nation as a Christian-based society with a dynamic love for families. “There’s this wanting to be defined as family — they want this completeness,” he said.
Added Sister Wunderli, mindful of the sealing ordinance for eternal families available in the temple: “The new generation of members is so special because they feel that. They know that.”
‘Shaping your family beyond the veil’
Elder Andersen said one very important truth the temple brings into view is the eternal bonds to one’s family here, to those who have come before and those who will follow. “It is a bond felt by good men and women everywhere, but the Restoration truths clarify the nature and purposes of these relationships and charge us with sacred and eternal obligations.”
The Apostle expressed his gratitude for eternal families and the blessings and hope provided by temple sealings and covenants.
“I cannot imagine a heaven without my eternal companion, Kathy — it would not be heaven without her,” he said. “Happiness beyond the veil would be incomplete without our children and our grandchildren.”
He added: “For those who come from troubled families, or have concerns about the worthiness of children, or have not had the blessing of being sealed to a worthy companion, of course there are questions that will need answering and blessings that are yet to come. But we know that the organization of heaven is families, and our understanding is enlarged in the house of the Lord. Do not ever underestimate the power of your endowment and your sealings to rightfully help in shaping your family beyond the veil.”
Praia Cape Verde Temple
Address: Avenida Cidade de Lisboa, Bairro Tahiti, Praia, Cabo Verde
Announced: Oct. 7, 2018, by President Russell M. Nelson
Groundbreaking: May 4, 2019, by Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy
Open house: May 21 through June 11, 2022 — more than 10,000 visitors
Dedication: June 19, 2022, by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Of note: It is the 173rd dedicated temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Site: 4.46 acres, with a stake center also constructed on the site
Total area: 8,759 square feet
Ordinance rooms: One instruction room, one sealing room, one baptistry
Architectural features: A single-story building with a dome spire above the entrance, with the exterior architecture reflective of the area’s style