The final week of October marked a somber period for Argentina. Nestor Kirchner, the country's former president and husband of the current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was being mourned across the nation following his death on Oct. 27.
Former President Kirchner's passing coincided with a visit by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve visit to the South American nation to preside at the Saturday, Oct. 30, groundbreaking of the future Cordoba Argentina Temple. The two events turned Elder Andersen's thoughts to matters eternal.
"On Friday, [President Kirchner's] funeral services were held," wrote Elder Andersen. "I thought how grateful we are for the temple, as it is a testament to the immortality of the soul."
The groundbreaking also marked a time of celebration for members living in northern Argentina. The future temple will be the nation's second such edifice and furthers the realization of Elder Melvin J. Ballard's 1925 prophecy that the area "will become a power in the Church." The Buenos Aires Argentina Temple was dedicated on Jan. 17, 1986, by President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency.
The temple will bless the lives of more than 95,000 members of the nine provinces of the temple district.
Elder Andersen arrived at the future temple site in Cordoba — the so-called heartland of Argentina — a day before the groundbreaking ceremony. There he visited the future temple site prior to retiring for the evening.
"As we walked quietly around the site, there was a sacred and reverent feeling," he wrote. "This land had been part of much of the history of the Church in this region of Argentina. Elder Richard G. Scott lived on the site while he served four years as the president of the Argentina North Mission.
"The first chapel in Cordoba was built on a corner of the property. Elder D. Todd Christofferson walked this land as a young missionary serving in the mission office.
"The property had served the purpose of the Restoration for nearly 50 years and now its final and most glorious destiny was about to begin. It would now embrace a holy temple, a House of the Lord."
On Oct. 30, some 500 members (local priesthood leaders in the region and their families) gathered on the future temple site for the groundbreaking ceremony. Also counted among the visitors were some of the pioneers of the Church in the Cordoba area. Elder Andersen called the occasion "a day long hoped for but almost unimaginable. The Spirit of the Lord was in great abundance, and the Lord blessed us all with a confirmation of His acceptance of the work begun with the groundbreaking."
Joining Elder Andersen at the ceremony were Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy and the South America South Area Presidency; Elder Mervyn B. Arnold; Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis and Elder Bradley D. Foster.
Also in attendance were Cordoba Province Lt. Gov. Hector Oscar Campana, Argentine Sen. Luis Juez and several other local government and civic leaders.
Elder Andersen, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Arnold and Elder Ruben L. Spitale, an Area Seventy, offered remarks at the ceremony. Sister Olga Romero, one of the early members of the Church in Cordoba and a veteran Relief Society leader, shared her testimony. A choir of local members performed hymns at the event.
"Isn't it marvelous to anticipate that the House of the Lord will be placed on this very ground, and that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to come to the Lord's house to renew their spirits and bring the ordinances of the priesthood to those who have come before us," said Elder Andersen in his remarks. "The history of the Church here in Cordoba has, to a large extent, been built beginning at this site.
"It is fitting that here would be finally the House of the Lord, a temple to our God prominently in place for the generations to follow."
The temple site is located in Villa Belgrano, a beautiful area of Cordoba.
Elder Gonzalez said the groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of temple construction. "This is the beginning of a construction for us. Also, it could mean the beginning of building our lives based on the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The beginning of a construction not only of our personal lives, but also to begin the construction of our families' lives."
Elder Arnold thanked the members for their efforts to make this sacred occasion possible. He spoke of the blessings of having the House of the Lord in Old Testament times, at the time of the Savior, and the blessings of having the temple ordinances restored by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
"Please place a picture of the temple in a very visible place in your homes and speak often with your children about the many blessings they will receive by living worthily to enter the House of the Lord," he said.
In his groundbreaking dedicatory prayer and blessing, Elder Andersen expressed gratitude for the principle of eternal families and the faithfulness of the local members.
"We express our appreciation for the many who have made this day possible — the righteous saints of the city of Cordoba and this area of Argentina — who have been true and faithful to their sacred covenants including the law of tithing, allowing Thee, through Thy prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to begin a second House of the Lord here in Argentina."
He also blessed the site of the future Cordoba Argentina Temple and the construction project. "May Thy blessings attend this effort that the work of the construction may proceed without harm or injury to those who labor here."
Elder Andersen concluded by invoking a blessing "upon the people of this nation and its leaders that peace and freedom may continue in this land, that righteousness reign as a shield and protection to each and every citizen of Argentina."
Following the dedicatory prayer, Elder Andersen and the other Church and civic leaders — along with several local Primary children — used shovels to break ground at the site, signaling the commencement of the building project.
"The Cordoba temple is a reward for the endurance of many members of the Church in the area," said Miriam Hadid de Chehda, a local member. "I didn't even imagine that I could see it during my life. Now I know that my children and grandchildren will be married here, that the eternal vows that my husband and I began more than 30 years ago will continue for generations."