‘The Savior’s Atonement is real, temple covenants are eternal,’ Elder Cook says at Quito Ecuador Temple dedication

The temple is Ecuador’s second and provides ‘the understanding, clarification, resolution, and ordinances’ that bless those who are faithful

QUITO, Ecuador — Elder Quentin L. Cook testified of the Savior and Heavenly Father’s plan for His children at the dedication of the Quito Ecuador Temple on Sunday, Nov. 20. 

The rains that beat down on Ecuador’s capital city Sunday afternoon couldn’t extinguish the spiritual fire members said they felt after Elder Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the sacred building.

“Everything just seemed so right,” Elder Cook said after the dedicatory sessions were completed.

“I ended up with a wonderful, warm feeling for the graciousness and the righteousness of these people. It was a joy.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Shayne M. Bowen, Elder Jorge F. Zeballos and Elder Kevin R. Duncan walk into the dedication of the Quito Ecuador Temple in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Cook presided over three dedicatory sessions. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Mary Cook; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; Elder Shayne M. Bowen, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Lynette Bowen; Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s South America Northwest Area, and his wife, Sister Carmen Zeballos.

In addition to Quito, the temple will serve those in the Ecuadorian cities of Otavalo, Ambato, Santo Domingo and other areas.

Elder Cook encouraged members of the Church to stay focused on the covenant path.

“The Savior’s Atonement is real, temple covenants are eternal, and we must not let distractions and rationalizations pull us away from the path that will lead us back to the Savior,” he said.

Maintaining that focus on the Savior is about more than checking off a list of requirements; it provides protection from Satan’s temptations, Elder Cook said.

“I believe that the youth of the Church will have greater protection from the adversary if they immerse themselves in searching for their ancestors, preparing their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple standing as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Samuel Anamice waits to enter the dedication of the Quito Ecuador Temple in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Cook described the purpose of temples as one that is eternally essential for all of Heavenly Father’s children.

“Temples provide the understanding, clarification, resolution and ordinances that are essential under the Father’s glorious plan to bless those who are on the covenant path.”

The temple in Quito was announced by President Thomas S. Monson on April 3, 2016. Ground was broken on May 11, 2019. Elder Cook participated in a devotional in Ecuador three months later with President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson. Elder Cook said he was happy to return to Ecuador for the dedication. The recently completed open house was attended by more than 50,000 visitors Oct. 14-29.

The temple is the 24th temple in South America — with the 23rd being dedicated a few hours earlier in Belém, Brazil.

Just 10 days shy of the Cooks’ 60th anniversary of being sealed in the Logan Utah Temple, Elder Cook said he is grateful for the opportunity provided through temple ordinances to continue building marriage relationships throughout eternity. He said he loves that every marriage in a temple is alike.

“There is no evidence of wealth, rank or educational attainment [in the temple]; we are all brothers and sisters humbling ourselves before God.

Luis Fuentes and Andrea Lema smile upon attending the dedication of the Quito Ecuador Temple in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“In the sacred sealing room, the eternal marriage ordinance is the same for everyone. I love the fact that the couple from the humblest background and the couple from the wealthiest background have exactly the same experience.”

He also recognized that teaching children about the ordinances and blessings of the temple can be difficult.

“Participating in living ordinances is one of the great blessings of a temple. Teaching our youth to prepare for their endowment and celestial marriage is one of the great challenges we face as parents.”

Elder Cook said the ordinances themselves are blessings and that continuing to be blessed through those ordinances requires work.

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“The primary blessings of the temple are the ordinances of exaltation. The gospel is about exaltation, which requires the making and keeping of sacred covenants with God,” he said.

Making the effort to keep covenants made with Heavenly Father opens the door to additional blessings in one’s life, Elder Cook said.

“Fulfilling divinely appointed responsibilities, based on righteousness, unity and equality before the Lord, brings personal happiness and peace in this world and prepares us for eternal life in the world to come.”

Symbolic temple cornerstone sealing

A group of nearly 100 people gathered around the east corner of the temple in anticipation of the symbolic sealing of the building’s cornerstone during the first dedicatory session.

Elder Cook addressed those standing outside and shared some of his feelings about the dedication with them.

“What a special opportunity to have the children out here with us,” he said. “The sealing of the cornerstone is symbolic, but it is an essential element of what we are doing here today.”

The symbolism points directly at the Savior, Elder Cook explained.

“By this simple act, we recognize Jesus Christ as our chief cornerstone.”

Among those at the cornerstone ceremony was 5-year-old Celeste Tabi, who was outside with her father, Luis Tabi. Celeste’s older sister and mother were both inside the temple for the dedication. Because of her age, Celeste was going to wait outside with her dad until the session’s conclusion. However, as the session started, young Celeste was invited to participate in the cornerstone’s sealing.

“I went like this, and then I went like this,” Celeste said, as she waved her hand in the air, imagining she was still using the trowel to place mortar on the cornerstone.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Celeste Tabi, 5, places mortar in the corner stone during the dedication of the Quito Ecuador Temple in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“I feel like it was a blessing,” she said about the chance to participate in a unique and unexpected way. “Because this is the house of the Lord.”

Her huge smile was only matched in size by her father’s gigantic tears.

Luis Tabi’s family lives two hours to the north of Quito in Cotocachi. He hadn’t imagined the two of them would have any role in the dedication, he said.

“This is a little profound for me. I didn’t have intentions,” he said, cutting himself short to wipe away his tears. “My only hope was to let my daughter perhaps see an Apostle while we waited outside the temple.”

He said he had prayed all week that Celeste would have a good experience and that he would feel the Spirit during the dedication.

“God knows the desires of our hearts,” he said. “And he gave us a special way to participate today.”

He said his older daughter had turned a shovel of dirt at the temple’s groundbreaking three years ago. Having one daughter participate in the temple’s beginning and the other participate in its completion meant the temple will always be that much more special to them as a family.

3 generations helping unite family — past, present and future

Like the Tabi family, the Calderón family has also been preparing for this dedication.

Elder Fernando E. Calderón was an Area Seventy in Ecuador and was called to serve with his wife, Adriana, to help organize the temple’s open house and dedication.

That calling quickly became a family affair as their son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter pitched in over many months as well.

“Much of the time, it wasn’t easy to travel eight hours [to Guayaquil] with the children,” said Gabriel Calderón. “Now, we won’t have to have that same worry.”

His wife, Alexandra Calderón, agreed that the temple in Quito is already helping their family.

“Having a temple in Quito is a blessing,” she said. “To see our children grow up so close to a temple and feel what they feel in the temple is a blessing.”

Speaking to the interrelatedness of generations of families, Elder Cook said, “The salvation of the whole human family is interdependent and interconnected — like the roots and branches of a great tree.”

Camila Calderon, center, waits with other children to take a turn placing mortar during the corner stone ceremony the Quito Ecuador Temple dedication in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Calderóns’ 9-year-old daughter, Camila, spent a lot of time at the temple during the open house and in the days leading up to this weekend’s dedication.

“She was here for eight hours a day sometimes,” Alexandra Calderón said. “I know that she knows in her heart that it’s true.”

Camila was also invited to participate in the sealing of the cornerstone with Elder Cook.

After the initial dedicatory session concluded, Camila said she felt happy when she was helping with the other children. When asked what she was excited to do in the temple now that it will be open, her reply appeared to catch even her parents by surprise.

“I want to do baptisms for the dead,” Camila said. “Because I have family members who died without knowing the gospel.”

Perhaps feeling that she had said all that needed to be said on the matter, the 9-year-old daughter and granddaughter then skipped away, down the sidewalk of the temple. Her parents were left nearly speechless.

“We are now starting something really big, and we can see,” Alexandra Calderón said, pointing to her daughter as she bounced away, “the work that we have before us.”

The desire to be in the temple is one that Gabriel Calderón hopes will affect more than the members of the Church in Ecuador.

“I hope that the temple becomes a part of our daily lives, yes,” he said. “And I hope it awakens a desire in others in our community to participate in what we do in the temple — that they become more interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ because the temple is here.”

4 types of sacrifice needed today

Even with temples being dedicated closer to more and more members, sacrificing for the Lord’s work is still a necessary part of temple worship — even if those sacrifices look different today than they did when the Church was getting started, Elder Cook said.

“Sacrificing for the kingdom echoes the supreme sacrifice of the Savior. It causes us to rejoice in what the Savior did for us.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during an interview after the Quito Ecuador Temple dedication in Quito, Ecuador, on Friday, Nov. 20, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Specifically, Elder Cook named four types of sacrifice members can engage in to show their dedication to the Lord.

  • The sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit.
  • The sacrifice of paying our tithes and offerings.
  • The sacrifice of searching out our ancestors and doing temple work for them.
  • The sacrifice of working in the temple.

Elder Cook said that it can be easy to become distracted by other things in the world that appear to be good but that take the place of proper worship.

“We need to remember that we worship God the Father, and we worship Jesus Christ,” he said. “They are the source of all blessings, and the Savior’s Atonement is the most important event in history.”

Making those sacrifices and following the commandments is not an easy thing to do, Elder Cook said.

“Righteousness is its own reward, but righteousness is difficult in our day. And with the world being in commotion, to have people focused on living the commandments and living a righteous life is particularly important.”

Church’s history in Ecuador

Today more than a quarter million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in Ecuador. They belong to 315 congregations (262 wards and 53 branches) that are part of 42 stakes. The country also has six missions.

Members of the Church and friends of the Church do family history research in 57 family history centers around Ecuador, including a brand new center located on the grounds of the temple in Quito.

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The first missionaries of the Church were called to serve in the country 57 years ago in 1965 when then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball dedicated Ecuador for the preaching of the gospel.

Four missionaries from the Andes Mission were the first to teach the restored gospel in Ecuador. Elder Cook said it is “wonderful to be here” among those who are believed to be descendants of the Lamanites. He also said the growth of the Church from then to now is nothing short of a miracle.

“I’m just exceptionally grateful that, in such a short period of time, that the gathering of Israel could occur and there could be such faithfulness with the members here in Ecuador.”

When Ecuador’s first temple was dedicated in Guayaquil in 1999, the Church had nearly 150,000 members, which means membership in the Church has grown by 67% in the last 23 years.

With the dedication of the temple in Quito, Ecuador becomes the sixth country in South America to have at least two dedicated temples. Argentina, Chile and Colombia each have two. Brazil has nine, and Peru has three. Twenty-one more temples for the continent have been announced or are already under construction.

“Having a sanctified temple of the Lord, the dedicated Quito Ecuador Temple, is truly a supernal blessing,” Elder Cook said.

Quito Ecuador Temple

Address: Calle Alfonso Lamiña y Avenida Ruta Viva Esquina
Auqui Chico
170904 Cumbayá, Quito

Announced: April 3, 2016, by President Thomas S. Monson

Groundbreaking: May 11, 2019, by Elder Enrique R. Falabella, a General Authority Seventy

Open house: Oct. 14-29, 2022 – attended by more than 50,000 visitors

Dedication: Nov. 20, 2022, by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Of note: It is the 175th dedicated temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 174th was dedicated in Belém, Brazil, on the same day.

Site: 3.96 acres, with patron housing also on the site

Total area: 36,780 square feet

Ordinance rooms: two instruction rooms, two sealing rooms, one baptistry

Architectural features: Ecuadorian floral patterns are seen both inside and outside the temple — in carved stone on the outside of the temple, in the windows of the temple, in the carpets, and elsewhere.

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