PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — On Oct. 28, Church and community members in Haiti gathered in the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince to witness the groundbreaking of Haiti’s first temple.
“The temple groundbreaking ceremony was a wonderful spiritual experience,” said Elder Walter F. González, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Caribbean Area. “I can only think about everlasting joy and gratitude for all that the temple means in our lives. It is hard to express with words. This was a day of joy and gratitude when we start to build a portal to heaven as we come to better understand the importance of the covenants made in the temple and how they impact our daily lives, both in this time and eternity.”
Two and a half years after being announced by President Thomas S. Monson in the April 5, 2015, general conference, the groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of construction for the temple that will serve more than 17,000 members living in seven stakes.
“It is a dream coming true,” Elder González said. “This idea seems to show the prevalent feeling of our members in Haiti.”
During the event a choir of local members provided music, and members of the Caribbean Area presidency — Elder Claudio D. Zivic and Elder Jose L. Alonso — participated. Also in attendance was Dominique Saint-Roc, mayor of the community of Pétion-Ville where the new temple will be located.
For many Church members in Haiti, a temple in their nation represents hope for the future.
“We are living a difficult time in Haiti and many ... leave the country because they are not sure that this country will be good enough someday,” said Prosner Colin, a member who works in the Church’s Haiti office. “When I heard President Monson announed a temple for Haiti in April 2015, my hope that this country will be changed ... has [been] reinforced.”
When Colin heard the temple groundbreaking ceremony would be held on Oct. 28 he said he was “impatient to see this day.”
“My beloved wife, Patricia, and I and our three beautiful kids, Eliza, Niel and Neilla, pray for the coming of the temple in each of our prayers,” he said. “We pray for the hearts of the Haitian saints [to] keep turning to the Lord in order to continue the merit to have the temple.”
Although the announcement has stirred much excitement for the Church in Haiti, the groundbreaking ceremony was one more reminder that a temple really is being built.
“It is real, we will have a temple, it is not a dream,” Colin said. “For me this temple gives me hope that this nation will not be destroyed, and the Gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ will be in this land forever. I have hope that this country will change ... and I have hope that this House of the Lord will bring peace to this country in every aspect.”
Every week Colin and his family, who live in the Fontamara Ward in the Port-au-Prince Haiti Stake, visit the temple site on Sunday afternoons to feel the Spirit of the Lord. For the Colin family, making the temple a part of their life is something they are doing now so that when the temple is dedicated they will be able to attend often.
“We received [a] clear message from Elder Neil L. Andersen and other priesthood leaders to turn our hearts to the Lord and start building the temple in our heart,” he said. “And I personally do all I can since [now is the] time to be better than ever.”
The temple will be the second temple in the Church’s Caribbean Area; the first is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Church has 182 temples throughout the world either in operation, under construction or announced. Currently there are six temples being renovated and seven more that have been announced to be renovated in the next few years.