Saints Rejoice at Honduras Temple Announcement
News spread fast across the country when a First Presidency letter, dated June 9, 2006, reached members in Honduras with the announcement that a new temple would be built in Tegucigalpa.
“We've been waiting a long time,” said Jorge Sierra, Honduras public affairs director and first counselor in the Honduras Comayaguela mission presidency. “The people are very happy. Our Church leaders are very motivated. They're committed to prepare themselves and the members to be ready for the opening of the temple.”
Tegucigalpa, Honduras's largest and capital city, is home to more than 1.6 million people. The new temple will be significant to the more than 168,000 Latter-day Saints across Honduras and Nicaragua. Before its construction, the closest temple to these Saints was the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple (dedicated in 1984), located about 214 miles away from Tegucigalpa.
Not only have the Saints in the area sacrificed time and funds, but they have had to travel dangerous roads to get to Guatemala and attend the temple.
Despite the danger, members still make the trip.
“For us, it's a pleasure to go to the temple and work there,” said Eliana Sierra. She said many members have done family history work, sacrificed, and saved money in preparation to travel to and do work at the temple.
“We are so humbled and grateful and waiting anxiously for the temple,” Sister Sierra said. She said the members are grateful to President Hinckley and area leaders for their hard work in preparation for the temple.
“It's a moment we have highly anticipated,” said President Sierra. “Temple attendance at the Guatemala temple by members in Honduras has been good. We believe it will only grow having the temple here in our own country.”
Besides the Guatemala temple, other Central American temples are in San Jose, Costa Rica (2000), and Panama City, Panama (under construction), making the Honduras temple the fourth in Central America. The Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple (if official name) will be the 134th temple of the Church that is operating, under construction, or announced by First Presidency letter.
The Church in Honduras has grown since 1952, when the gospel was first introduced through Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They left a Book of Mormon with a hotel waiter who was later baptized. A month later, missionaries entered Honduras. The first converts were baptized and the first congregation was organized in Tegucigalpa in March 1953. Honduras now has three missions: Comayaguela, San Pedro Sula, and Tegucigalpa.
According to December 2005 estimates, Nicaragua and Honduras are the fastest-growing countries in Church membership in Central America over the last five years. Church membership in Nicaragua has grown an estimated 50 percent and in Honduras 16 percent.
President Sierra said the temple will help facilitate Church growth and retention in different ways, such as through the open house, and as a talking point for home and visiting teachers and leaders to open doors with the less active.
In 1980, Church membership in Honduras was about 6,300. Today, Church membership in the country is more than 116,000. In 1989, at the formation of the Nicaragua Managua Mission, Church membership in Nicaragua was 3,453. Today, Nicaraguan Saints number at more than 52,000.
The temple will be a blessing to the fast-growing body of Saints in Nicaragua who have had to travel far and pay expenses to travel to Guatemala or San Jose to attend the temple.
“They're very excited,” said Roberto Sequeira, public affairs director in Nicaragua.