Visitors mingle outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple following the Sunday, December 9, 2018, temple dedication. Photo by Jason Swensen.The power of a templeHe admits Colombia has known hard times. But the Latter-day Saints have endured and prospered because the Lord knows them.
A little girl enjoys the gardens outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.
This temple has already proven to be a great motivator and faith builder, he said. I have seen many people return to the Church because of this temple. People of all faiths see this temple and realize they want to be here with their families.Few people at Sundays dedication likely recognized Sister Diane Eberhard. She and her husband, Elder Charles Eberhard, arrived in Barranquilla days ago from Mesa, Arizona, to began serving an 18-month mission in the new temple. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.His spirits soared even higher when he discovered many of the people he taught as a missionary had remained involved in the Church.I feel so blessed todayweve looked forward to this Sunday since this temple was announced. I bought an apartment so close to the temple that I can walk; theres no reason for me not to serve.Sundays dedication was broadcast to Church meetinghouses across the country. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.Looking backPresident Dallin H. Oaks presided over Sundays dedication. By the time he left the temple, the sun was falling and the day seemed anxious to end. But many from the Barranquilla temple district waited around to bid farewell to the First Counselor in the First Presidency.To have a temple here brings tears to my eyes, she said. During the temple dedication, I felt that my parents were close by.Translated literally, it means whoever owns the store attends and cares for it. Metaphorically, its a reminder to take ownership and accountability for anything of great value and importance.The past half-century has been a Church success story. Today there are over 200,000 members worshipping in some 250 congregations across the country, with five missions in operation.There is an oft-spoken Colombian expression that Latter-day Saints here perhaps utter with deeper meaning following Sundays dedication of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple: El que tiene tienda que la atienda.One of Elder Helds fellow Colombian converts, Barranquilla resident Juan Carlos Cabrera, echoed his thoughts:Holladay, Utah, resident Cary Hunter was serving his mission in Colombia in the late 1980s when he received an unwanted call from his mission leaders saying his service in Colombia was ending immediately.Be faithful. Be honest. Be good citizens of your nation. The Lord will bless you in His work.Hunter recently returned to his mission for the first time to participate in the public open house of the Barranquilla Temple. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.This was a magnificent occasion at an extraordinarily beautiful temple, he told the Church News following the dedication. Sister Oaks and I were thrilled to be a part of this, and we pray for the Lords blessings to be upon the people of this nation and the work of the Lord here.Almost two decades have passed since Colombian Latter-day Saints celebrated the opening of their countrys first templethe Bogota Colombia Temple, dedicated on April, 24, 1999, by President Gordon B. Hinckley.This is the evidence of the love the Lord has for His people in Colombia, he said while gazing at the temple. Without a doubt, the Lord is showing His love for us.My heart was so full of gratitude that I was able to play a small part in bringing such a blessing to the people of Colombia.This is an experience I will never forget, being with President Oaks and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.I have a lot of love and admiration for my parents, she said while sitting on a bench outside the temple. They faithfully gathered us together every Sunday for Sabbath services and reading scriptures and having Primary during the week.Through all the tough times that Colombia went through, they had stayed strong and never lost faith, he said. I think it is because of the strong will and the dedication of these types of people that the Lord has blessed them with a second temple.
President Dallin H. Oaks, left, signals the end of the cornerstone ceremony of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple with a wave on Sunday, December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen. Sister Kristen Oaks, left, places some mortar on the temple capstone under the watch of her husband, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency during the Sunday, November 9, 2018, dedication of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. At right are Elder Ulisses Soares and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares. Photo by Jason Swensen.My heart was broken as my companion and I threw our belongings in our suitcase to rush to the bus station, he recalled. It all happened so fast, and I couldnt help but wonder what would happen to the Church in Colombia. Members line up to enter the opening session of the dedication of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on Sunday, December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.A defining day in ColombiaThe Churchs official beginnings in Colombia happened more than a decade later when the first two Latter-day Saint missionariesElders Randall Harmsen and Jerry Broome of the Andes Missionarrived in the capital city of Bogota in 1966 and began sharing the gospel to all who would listen. Later that year, the Colombian government granted official recognition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Visiting General Authorities and their wives outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.President Dallin H. Oaks, left, welcomes visitors to the cornerstone ceremony of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on Sunday December 9, 2018. Participating in addition to the interpreter at the side of the First Counselor in the First Presidency are Sister Kristen Oaks, center, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Rosana Soares. Photo by Jason Swensen. A choir performs at the cornerstone ceremony of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on Sunday, December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.Excursions to Barranquillathe big citywere memorable and fun. But Sister Eberhard admits she never imagined a temple would one day be built here within sight of the mighty Magdalena River. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen. Following the dedication of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on December 9, 2018, sister missionaries wait outside the temple to help clean it. Photo by Jason Swensen. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.Other General Authorities participating in Sundays dedication included Elder Kevin R. Duncan and Elder Hugo Montoya. The visiting Brethren were accompanied by their wivesSister Kristen Oaks, Sister Rosana Soares, Sister Ruth Falabella, Sister Nancy Duncan, Sister Maria Montoya, and Sister Irene Held. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, pause for a photo outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.As a young girl in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Sister Eberhard lived with her family in a jungle camp outside of Barranquilla. Her father, James Clark, was in the oil business, and the American family of eight called northern Colombia their home for several years. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.As worshippers walked out of the Churchs 161st temple Sunday following one of the days three dedicatory sessions, they seemed almost unaware of the stifling Caribbean heat. Instead, they appeared refreshed by a soaring combination of joy and renewed dedication.BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIABut she is a true pioneer here.This day is so special for me because my German ancestors came initially to Barranquillathis is where my familys history in Colombia began, said Elder Mathias Held, a General Authority Seventy and a Bogota native. But now that the temple is here, we can never take it for granted. We need to make sure we come here often. Martin Garzon and Jocelyn Rodriquez represented the Colombian youth in placing mortar on the capstone of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.In the months and years leading up to Sundays dedication, Barranquilla Colombia Hipodromo Stake President Ivar Romero has witnessed the power of the templeeven one yet to be openedto change lives.As President Oaks was about to step into a waiting vehicle that would take him to the airport before flying home to Salt Lake City, the Church leader stopped for a moment before offering a few final words of counsel to the Colombians whom, in the coming days, would be worshipping in the Churchs newest temple. President Dallin H. Oaks helps Jocelyn Rodriquez climb atop the platform to assist with sealing the capstone of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on December 9, 2018. Photo by Jason Swensen.It is hard to explain the feelings I felt when we drove down the road and saw the Barranquilla Temple for the first time, he said. It had been 30 years since I had been in Colombia. I had left my mission in such a hurry, not knowing what would become of the Church in Colombia, and now I was looking at the most beautiful building I think I had ever seen.There was no Church presence. So Brother Clark and his wife, Glenna, received permission from Church headquarters to hold services in their home. The Clarks were the only Latter-day Saint family living in what has now become the member-rich Barranquilla temple district.Now a second Colombian temple is found in the countrys northern tip near the Caribbean Sea, a region known to produce top-flight soccer players, champion prizefighters, and some of the worlds friendliest people. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen.But the growth of the Church in Colombia has sometimes happened amid trouble, violence, and civil strife. A few decades ago, Colombians had to rely largely upon one another when North American missionaries were pulled from the country. The Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Ryan Jensen. Dedicated Sunday, December 9, 2018, the Barranquilla Colombia Temple is that nations second temple and the 161st in operation in the world. Photo by Jason Swensen.Elder Enrique R. Falabella, a General Authority Seventy who presides over the South America Northwest Area, fought emotion as he considered the eternal work that will soon happen inside the walls of the Barranquilla Temple.