Temple an Anchor to Saints in Colombia
Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
April 24, 1999, is still celebrated as a blessed day by faithful members from all corners of this South American nation.
On that Saturday, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Bogota Colombia Temple—the country's first such edifice. That event forever changed the Church here. Members no longer had to travel to distant lands to claim eternal blessings for themselves and their families.
More than 14 years have passed since that historic dedication—and thousands of Latter-day Saint Colombians have remained faithful, regular temple-goers. But others have not continued to take full advantage of the Bogota Temple.
When Johnn Deivis was called as bishop of the Cristobal Colon Ward, Cali San Fernando Colombia Stake, he realized that some in his ward were not enjoying the lifesaving blessings of the temple.
With the cooperation of his counselors and a dutiful ward council, Bishop Deivis has once again made the temple the spiritual anchor of his ward.
Cali is a bustling city celebrated for its tropical climate and friendly people. “Calenos” are quick to tell you that they live in the salsa capital of the world. Dance enthusiasts travel across continents to learn salsa's frenetic steps in one of Cali's many salsa academies.
But plenty in Cali, including many members, also endure economic struggles. The 10-hour bus ride to Bogota can present a challenging expense. Bishop Deivis understood that finances were keeping some away from the temple.
So the Cristobal Colon members began working together to raise money for temple trips. But preparations stretched beyond merely gathering cash. The members, said Bishop Deivis, also recommitted themselves to the temple. They strived for unity, made sure they were worthy for temple recommends, and put their own lives and houses in order.
“The brothers and sisters in the ward began working as a team to get back to the temple,” said Bishop Deivis.
Ward members sold Colombian goodies and other treats to pay for bus fares to Bogota. Home teachers and visiting teachers made the temple a central principle in their monthly lessons. Mothers and fathers set goals with their children to visit the temple and become forever families.
Such combined, steady efforts have yielded priceless blessings.
“Over the past four years, we've been able to make it to the temple as a ward every year,” said Bishop Deivis. “Ten families have been sealed, and seven more families will be sealed on our next temple trip.”
Ward members say they have felt the guidance and support of their Heavenly Father as they have made sacrifices to make it to the temple.
“This temple work is real—it is the work of exaltation that comes through service, in Christ's name, to our our families and neighbors,” said the bishop.