On 18 March, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Montevideo Uruguay Temple, the 11th in South America.
“Dear Father, wilt Thou accept this temple as the gift of Thy sons and daughters,” he said in the dedicatory prayer. “It has come through the faithful payment of tithing by Thy Saints across the world. May it grace this land. May the nation of Uruguay be blessed because of its presence on this soil. May it stand as a testimony to the world of the knowledge of Thy people concerning the eternal things of God.”
President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as well as the South America South Area Presidency: Elder Jay E. Jensen and Elder Keith Crockett of the Seventy and Elder Claudio D. Zivic, Area Authority Seventy.
The Montevideo temple is located in an attractive residential neighborhood east of the nation’s capitol. It will serve the 73,000 Uruguayan members in their 15 stakes, 6 districts, and 2 missions.
More than 7,600 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. For Samuel Piriz, a counselor in the bishopric of the Pueblo Nuevo Ward, Durazno Uruguay Stake, being able to attend was a manifestation of the Lord’s blessings, and his story was not unique. A convert of six years, Brother Piriz had been unable to find employment for a year. But after praying that he would somehow be able to take his family to the dedication, he landed a job a month before the ceremony and was able to pay the bus fare for his family to travel two hours to and from Montevideo. He was also able to pay the fare for two other ward members who otherwise could not have gone.
Nearly 25,000 people attended the 28 February through 10 March open house. Elder Troy Jones, a full-time missionary who worked as an usher at the open house, reported that many visitors of other faiths “said they felt like they had left this world when they entered the temple, that they’d left their cares and worries behind. Others said it is the most beautiful building in the country.”
Among the thousands of visitors were Jorge Batlle, the president of Uruguay, and Luis Alberto Lacalle, a former president of Uruguay. Following his tour, President Batlle said that the temple was a place where moral values are evident and that people should embrace these values.
Member Meeting in Aruba
En route to Uruguay, President Hinckley and Elder Oaks made a stop on the small island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea. There, the two Brethren spoke at a meeting attended by 180 local members, including a few from the neighboring islands of Bonaire and Curaçao.
“I think the time will come when there will be thousands of members here in Aruba and Curaçao,” President Hinckley told these members. After praising the beauty of the Aruba Branch meetinghouse, he said, “You will need larger buildings than this building, and that will all depend on your faithfulness. … You are the pioneers of this land, and the Church will grow as you live the gospel and let it be seen in your lives. You have something so very, very special, my brothers and sisters. You have membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Elder Oaks spoke about the Book of Mormon’s witness of the Savior and about the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Local members expressed enthusiasm and gratitude for President Hinckley’s visit, which marked the first time a Church President had visited the island. There are two branches on Aruba, the first of which was organized in 1986.