FUKUOKA, JAPAN Calling it "the beginning of great blessings that will come," Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy and president of the Asia North Area broke ground for the Fukuoka Japan Temple March 20.
"When a temple is built in an area it lessens the evil influences of the adversary. It brings blessings to the area and to its people," added Elder Kendrick. "These blessings come not only to the members of the Church but also to all those who live in the bounds of the temple district."
More than 500 attended the groundbreaking ceremony for what will soon be the second temple in Japan. The day broke cold and rainy, but the weather started to improve an hour before the ceremonial turning of the first shovelful of soil.
Fukuoka is located in the northern part of the island of Kyushu, some 620 miles southwest of Tokyo, located on Honsho island. Fukuoka is the eighth largest city in Japan with a population of 1.2 million.
Attending the services and joining Elder Kendrick in the ceremonial turning of the first shovelful of soil were priesthood leaders from the Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kumamoto, Okinawa Ginowan and Okinawa Naha stakes; Yamaguchi District (Japan Hiroshima Mission), Nagasaki and Kagoshima districts (Japan Fukuoka Mission), Okinawa Military District and Honshu Military District. Some 16,465 members of the Church live in these stakes and districts.
Also attending as guests of the Church were Yoshiyasu Yamaki, president of the Fukuoka City Botanical Garden and Zoo, located next to the temple grounds; and Hiromichi Ujihara, director of the Taisei Construction Company, which is constructing the temple.
In addition to Elder Kendrick, other speakers at the groundbreaking services were Eugene M. Kitamura, the Church's director of temporal affairs here; Fukuoka stake Pres. Kazuhiko Yamashita; and Japan Fukuoka Mission Pres. James A. McArthur.
In his remarks, Elder Kendrick explained: "The temple is a place where sacred things occur. It serves many purposes and promotes great spiritual experiences for all who enter therein spiritually prepared for those experiences."
He described the temple as:
- A place of instruction. "It is in the temple where sacred instructions are given, helping us to prepare to enter into the presence of the Lord one day. It is during this instruction that we see the relationship between the earthly and the eternal."
- A place of covenants and ordinances. "The temple is a place where those who qualify through personal worthiness may come to enter into sacred covenants with the Lord. If they are faithful in keeping these covenants they will be richly blessed with eternal life."
- A place of revelation. "It is in the temple that the veil between the earthly and the eternal becomes very thin. It is here that the Spirit teaches, testifies and reveals the will of the Lord to those who seek His directions. It is in the temple where our knowledge and understanding are quickened in a special way."
- A place for vicarious work. "The Lord has set one standard by which His children could qualify to return to His holy presence and dwell with Him for all eternity. He makes no exceptions. He has provided a way for all to comply, even those who did not have the opportunity to receive the gospel and its saving ordinances here on earth."
Elder Kendrick urged those attending to prepare for temple activity by fasting and praying, studying the scriptures and repenting.
"All who come to this temple should strive to leave behind the cares of the world. They must truly enter to serve and to focus on the things of eternity, avoiding the thoughts, conversations and feelings concerning earthly experiences.
"If they do so, they will find joy in their labors and the blessings spoken of by the Prophet Joseph Smith: 'And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.' " (D&C 109:22.)