LIMA, Peru — On the day an Apostle of Jesus Christ dedicated the newest house of the Lord — the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, the second in the capital city of this South American nation and the 187th of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a prophecy from an earlier Apostle rang true.
In his preparations to dedicate the Los Olivos temple on Sunday, Jan. 14, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recalled the words of Elder Parley P. Pratt, one of the first Apostles of the latter-day dispensation.
“He never personally set foot in Peru but viewed the coast as he sailed south from the United States,” Elder Christofferson told the Church News. “He was moved upon by the Spirit to state, ‘Should Peru sustain her liberties, a field is opened in the heart of Spanish America, and in the largest, best informed and most influential city [Lima] and nation [Peru] of South America, for the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the fullness of the gospel to be introduced.’”
Elder Christofferson listed Church milestones in Peru — from the organization of the first branch in Peru in 1956 to the country’s first stake in 1970, and from the dedication of the Lima Peru Temple in 1986 to Elder Christofferson creating the 100th stake in Peru in 2013.
Then he said of Sunday’s dedication of the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple: “This is a day to pause and give thanks for the miracle the Lord has wrought in Peru. Prophecy has been and is being fulfilled.
“The latter-day gathering of Israel is well advanced in this nation and continues to gain momentum,” Elder Christofferson continued. “All that has transpired since the creation of the first small branch in 1956 has occurred in one lifetime — less than 75 years. No one can deny that God, our Heavenly Father, has had His eye on this nation and on the Church of Jesus Christ in this nation.”
Rising from Pacific Ocean beaches to towering Andes peaks, Peru is home to more than 630,000 Latter-day Saints comprising nearly 780 congregations and 112 stakes, which include 48 in Lima alone.
And with the dedication, Peru now has four dedicated houses of the Lord, with the two in Lima joined by temples in Trujillo (dedicated in 2015) and Arequipa (2019). Five more are in planning and design — for Cusco, Chiclayo, Huancayo, Iquitos and Piura — all announced within the past two years by President Russell M. Nelson.
Lima also has the distinction of being the third city to have two dedicated temples — and the first outside Utah.
‘The Lord is blessing this country’
To have two temples in Lima, four dedicated in Peru and five more announced “is a dream,” said Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s South America Northwest Area, which is headquartered in Lima.
“Practically nobody thought that in this short period of time that we would have nine temples, nine houses of the Lord in this country,” he said. “So the Lord is blessing this country.”
Elder Zeballos continued: “On behalf of the members, I express gratitude for these blessings to the Lord, of course, and to the First Presidency. And now the work we need to do is use these temples as the Lord expects. Having a temple is a great blessing, and having a dedication is a wonderful experience. But the homework now is to attend — the temple work starts now.”
Joining Elder Christofferson and Elder Zeballos for the day’s two dedicatory sessions in Lima were their wives, Sister Kathy Christofferson and Sister Carmen Zeballos; Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Church’s Temple Department, and his wife, Sister Nancy Duncan; and Elder Juan Pablo Villar, a General Authority Seventy and a Temple Department assistant executive director, and his wife, Sister Carola Villar.
The Church’s history in Peru
Elder Christofferson noted that it was 105 years after Elder Pratt pronounced his prophecy on Peru that the first Church unit was organized — on July 8, 1956, with 30 people attending the first meeting of the Lima Peru Branch. Missionaries were sent from Montevideo, Uruguay, the following month, and in 1957, the Church gained official recognition from the Peruvian government.
“By 1959, when I was 14 years old, there were five branches of the Church in Peru: two in Lima and one each in Tacna, Arequipa and Toquepala,” he said. “Just 11 years later, in 1970, then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the Lima Peru Stake, the first in Peru, … and said, ‘Now I would like to say to you today that you are a people of prophecy, and this is a day of fulfilled prophecy, and God is remembering the promises made of old.’”
Elder Christofferson also spoke fondly of his assignment in June 2013 to create the 100th stake in Peru — just 43 years after the country’s first stake was organized — as well as the cultural event held in the University of San Marcos stadium, attended by 14,000, to celebrate the milestone.
Offerings before, after the dedication
With the dedication of the new temple, Elder Christofferson acknowledged the sacrifices in tithes and offerings that help finance the planning, construction and operations of the Church’s 335 total temples worldwide.
The Apostle said he hopes Latter-day Saints in Peru will continue with a sacrifice of a different sort of offering.
“The offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit is an offering of repentance and obedience to the Lord. It is not an offering of things that we possess and then give to Him. It is not an offering of things at all. It is rather an offering of ourselves, of what we are and what we are becoming,” he said.
Elder Christofferson said Latter-day Saints can examine their lives regularly to see if there is something unworthy to eliminate, to consider a Christlike attribute to more fully cultivate or to act upon impressions when prayerfully asking God, “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20).
“By what we are becoming day by day, our lives become a more holy offering to the Lord,” the Apostle said, then singling out the words over the temple’s entrance — “Holiness to the Lord; the house of the Lord.”
“These powerful words remind us that we should strive to be holy to enter here,” Elder Christofferson said. “Perfection is not required, but it would be a wonderful thing if we individually worked hard to be at least a little better, a little holier each time we entered the doors of the holy temple.”
What members were saying
Gisela Porras enjoyed a special moment before Sunday’s first dedicatory session, as Elder Christofferson exited the temple for a few minutes and called over Porras’ 8-year-old daughter, Jaemee, to greet her.
“I feel a special spirit here, a tranquility and special power,” she said of being at the temple. “I feel this is sincerely a house of the Lord, and it is a privilege to be here in such a historic moment as the dedication of a temple.”
Michael and Karen Surichaqui, a young couple from northern Lima, assisted attendees as volunteer ushers for Sunday’s sessions at the Los Olivos temple. The two will return to the temple in a couple of days to serve as temple workers.
“The Lord has shown once again that He loves us and gives us additional temples so that we can draw closer to Him,” Michael Surichaqui said.
The Lord wants His gospel to be known and accepted throughout the world, and many people have learned of the Church through its temples, he said. “I believe the Lord wants this, for people to know that God loves them and that He is ready to bless them, and they can learn even more of Him, the gospel and the doctrine through attending the temple.”
Added Karen Surichaqui: “Here dwells the Spirit, and it really is a house of the Lord. I believe people should know that through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are going to receive everything necessary in order to have a happy family through the eternities.”
About the Los Olivos temple
The Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple was announced April 3, 2016, by President Thomas S. Monson.
The Lima North Institute of Religion building and a meetinghouse — two buildings originally on the temple site — were permanently closed on Jan. 27, 2019, to be demolished to make way for the new house of the Lord.
Elder Falabella told attendees the groundbreaking would be unforgettable. “There is something special in the temples,” he said. “As we spend more time in the Lord’s house, our life will have greater meaning.”
The Los Olivos temple is a symmetrical concrete structure of more than 47,000 square feet, featuring a simple art deco architectural style and white granite exterior. By design, the temple is without a central spire to better fit the neighborhood’s semiurban feel. A relatively short, flat-roofed and windowed tower is easily visible, rising above the celestial room from the center of the building.
The sacred edifice reaches 81 feet in height (24.68 meters) and is 47,413 square feet (4,404 square meters) in size.
Passersby can see the exterior stained-glass art windows in creams, blues and greens, with some panels highlighted by pale scarlet flowers, with floral design inside and out based on the bud and bloom of the cantuta flower, Peru’s national flower.
The temple grounds are relatively small, at 2.46 acres (1 hectare). Underground parking helps free up ground space, which is given to the temple and two auxiliary buildings — for patron and temple missionary housing — as well as gardens and walkways.
The gardens have four mature olive trees, reflecting the temple’s “Los Olivos” name. Planted along the corner paths that surround the building, the trees underscore Lima’s historic olive groves — among the first planted on the continent — as well as scriptural references to olive trees.
The grounds feature other trees and hundreds of shrubs, and the wooden entrance doors feature carvings of olive branches.
Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple
Location: Avenida Eloy Espinoza 680, San Martín de Porres, Lima, Peru 15102
Announced: April 3, 2016, by President Thomas S. Monson
Groundbreaking: June 8, 2019, presided by Elder Enrique R. Falabella, a General Authority Seventy and president of the South America Northwest Area
Open house: Nov. 10 through Dec. 9, 2023
Dedication: Jan. 14, 2024, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Property area: 2.46 acres (1 hectare)
Building area: 47,413 square feet (4,404 square meters)
Building height: 81 feet (24.68 meters)