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Latter-day Saints in Cordoba prepare for new temple

CÓRDOBA, ARGENTINA

The annual tradition of welcoming in the New Year has taken on new meaning for Latter-day Saints living in northern Argentina.

The maiden days of the year 2015 will be remembered here for far more than parties and resolutions. For members, 2015 will forever be remembered as “the year of the temple.”

It has been almost seven years since President Thomas S. Monson announced plans to build Argentina’s second temple in the industrial city of Córdoba. More than four years have passed since the ceremonial groundbreaking. To say that the members here are ready for the opening of the Córdoba Argentina Temple would be an understatement.

“We are so excited for this special experience,” said Córdoba Argentina South Stake President Alejandro Camejo. “We have waited many years for this day.”

The First Presidency recently announced that the Córdoba temple would be dedicated in three sessions on May 17, a day after a traditional youth cultural celebration.

But members here are already busy with day-to-day preparations for the dedicatory events, including the 26-day public open house that begins April 17.

Several weeks ago, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Argentina’s “heartland” where the new temple stands. He found the region to be on schedule for the fast-approaching dedication.

Córdoba is familiar land for the Church leader. As a young missionary, he served in this area while laboring in the mission office. His recent visit to the temple site brought back many tender memories.

Elder Christofferson’s fellow apostle, Elder Neil L. Andersen, presided over the Oct. 30, 2010, groundbreaking. He immediately recognized the Córdoba temple site as sacred ground that was rich in Church history. The property, he said, had “served the purpose of the Restoration” for nearly half a century.

“This land had been part of much of the history of the Church in this region of Argentina,” he said. “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 Córdoba was built on a corner of the property.”

Already the young people are practicing and rehearsing for what promises to be a memorable cultural event. Assignments are also being made for the open house. Organizers anticipate more than 60,000 visitors.

But President Camejo said the most important preparations for the Córdoba Argentina Temple are happening inside the homes of Latter-day Saint families and individuals.

“The members are changing their lives — they are organizing their homes even as they prepare to enter the House of the Lord,” he said.

Many of the Córdoba-area members are already faithful temple-goers who regularly make long bus and van trips to the country’s first temple in Buenos Aires. But many other families here are looking forward to the day when they step inside a dedicated temple for the first time.

“This temple will bless families, individuals and communities,” said President Camejo.

Even as members in northern Argentina look to the day when a temple is open in their land, they are remembering their sacred past. A temple in Córdoba is further evidence of a sacred prophecy that continues to be fulfilled.

In 1925, Elder Melvin J. Ballard was laboring in Buenos Aires. At the time, the Church was all but non-existent in Argentina and throughout South America. Still, the apostle envisioned a glorious future for the continent — prophesying that the area “will become a power in the Church.”

Once dedicated, the Córdoba Argentina Temple will be the 16th such holy edifice operating in South America. Future South American temples have also been announced or are under construction in Barranquilla, Colombia; Fortaleza, Brazil; Trujillo, Peru; Arequipa, Peru; and Concepcion, Chile.

The new temple district will serve some 100,000 members living in nine provinces.

[email protected] @JNSwensen

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