SANTIAGO, Chile A new chapter of the Church in Chile was penned Jan. 21 as the open house tours were conducted in the newly refurbished and enlarged Santiago Chile Temple.
The ongoing public tours will continue through Feb. 11 in preparation for Feb. 26 rededication ceremonies.
Among the first to tour the refurbished temple were Elder Ryan Dale Marcum and Elder John Robert Kimball, full-time missionaries serving in the Chile Santiago East Mission. After concluding his tour, which included a visit to the temple's new baptistry, Elder Marcum said he was moved by the spirit felt inside the sacred building.
"This is the house of God there is a wonderful spirit here," Elder Marcum said.
Elder Kimball, a descendant of Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, added: "It's very special (here). The feelings in all the temples are the same. They are the feelings of God."
Others counted among the first open house visitors included children, family members and future full-time missionaries. They enlisted words such as beautiful, marvelous and hospitable to describe their tour experience.
Monica Magnere, a Chilean member, said there are no words to adequately describe the feelings felt inside the temple. "I know that the temple is a place that is the most sacred on earth to connect with our Heavenly Father . . . . We are very blessed to have a temple here in Santiago."
Another Chilean member, Magdalena Riquelme, called it a privilege to tour through the new temple with her young son, Cristian.
Open house tours included stops in each of the essential ordinance rooms including sealing rooms, the celestial room and the redesigned baptistry. The Santiago Chile Temple's baptistry now includes the familiar twelve oxen supporting the font.
Open house guide Roberto Vinett enjoyed sharing his testimony with visitors as he walked them through each area of the temple. "To be sealed to our loved ones is an act of love," he said.
The open house tours will continue through Feb. 11, excluding Sundays.
The Santiago Chile Temple was originally dedicated in 1983 as the 24th operating temple of the Church. The rededicated temple will serve more than 535,000 members in Chile as one of the 122 operating temples worldwide.
The Feb. 26 rededication ceremony will include two dedicatory sessions to accommodate members in the area.
A cultural celebration featuring 4,000 LDS Chilean youth is scheduled for Feb. 25 in Santiago's Memorial Stadium. More than 50,000 members and friends are expected to attend.
Features unique to the Santiago Chile Temple include hand-carved wainscoting in the waiting area and motifs of the copihue Chile's national flower on door handles and art-glass windows. Native Chilean stone is found in the baptistry and temple entry way.