President Uchtdorf Dedicates Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple
By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
During his recent visit to Honduras to dedicate this country’s first temple, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recognized three characteristics that define the Honduran members:
1. A love of God.
2. A love of family.
3. And, lastly, a love of country.
That three-pronged devotion makes faithful Latter-day Saint Hondurans a natural fit for the temple, observed President Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. A dedicated temple is, after all, a sacred instrument that deepens and refines one’s relationship with God, family, and country.
Seven Years of Patience
Honduran members rejoice being called a “temple people.” It was almost seven years ago that the Church announced plans to build this Central American nation’s first temple. The members here have learned lessons in patience and perseverance during that time as they waited for their temple to be completed.
Now their faith has been rewarded. On March 17, President Uchtdorf dedicated the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple in three sessions. Hundreds participated in the dedication inside the ornate edifice, while thousands of others throughout Honduras and Nicaragua viewed the proceedings live via closed circuit broadcasts to local meetinghouses.
“It has been a joyful day,” President Uchtdorf told the Church News following the final dedicatory session. “It has been a historic day, not only for Honduras but for all of Mesoamerica.”
He was assisted at the dedication by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Gregory A. Schweitzer of the Seventy. The Central America Area Presidency—Elder James B. Martino, Elder Carlos H. Amado, and Elder Kevin R. Duncan, all of the Seventy—also participated.
“It’s been a wonderful day from start to finish,” said Elder Holland moments after shaking hands and exchanging “abrazos” (or friendly embraces) with dozens of members outside the temple. “The spirit of the day increased from session to session until it reached a crescendo in the final session.”
A Blessing for Honduras
The Church’s 141st temple may not be Central America’s first temple. (In fact, it’s the sixth.) But folks who have watched the Church grow here over the past many decades are quick to vouch for the spiritual capacity of the Honduran members.
Vernon Brigham served as the country’s second mission president, leading the missionary work here from 1982 to 1985. At that time, many of the local priesthood leaders had never been inside a temple. So President Bingham arranged to have all the district presidents he presided over attend the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. Those temple visits, he said, forever changed the Church in Honduras. The faithful were taking the first steps to becoming a temple-going people.
“Visiting the temple helped them see the big picture,” said President Bingham’s wife, Sister Bernice Bingham.
Now 90 and living in Mesa, Arizona, President Bingham has spent the past several years anticipating the day a temple would open in Honduras. He knows it will forever change a country he loves. He told the Church News that he felt he had to attend the March 17 dedication.
“The Lord has kept me alive to see this day,” he said, smiling.
Life is an Opportunity
Elder Amado is a son of Central America. He knows firsthand the impact the new temple in Tegucigalpa can have in Honduras and in neighboring Nicaragua. He has seen it in other nations, including his native Guatemala.
Much of Central America, he said, is troubled by economic and security instability. There are hard times here. But the Lord’s gospel offers hope and peace—and the Honduras temple is the house of the Lord.
“The temple teaches us that life is not a tragedy,” said Elder Amado. “The temple teaches us that life is an opportunity.”
Tegucigalpa resident Gary Flores said he and his fellow members here are anxious to assume the sacred responsibilities that come from living so close to a temple.
“We have no excuses now not to do this work,” he said. “No one can say the temple is too far away.”
Brother Flores said the Honduran members demonstrated their love for the temple during the recent open house, bringing family and friends inside the stately new edifice that assumes a prominent vista in the southeast end of this capital city. Thousands of missionary references were collected during the open house period.
Elder Holland said the duty to serve in the temple extends beyond Honduras and across the world. A new temple, he added, is a reminder to all of the urgency of the work. “If there are 141 temples, we should be doing 141 times the work.”
President Uchtdorf is certain his Honduran brothers and sisters are up to the task. The Czechoslovakian-born, German-reared Church leader acknowledges no ethnic or familial connection to the Latin American members, but he said he shares with them a deep spiritual kinship. He recognizes his own love for President Thomas S. Monson whenever one of the Honduran members asks him to pass along their love to the prophet. He witnesses their commitment to their families and thinks of his own.
He left Honduras confident that the temple—and those who will worship there—are being watched over by the Lord.
“The Church here is in good hands.”