Haiti gets first Latter-day Saint Temple
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A nation that has known a lot of hardship, now has a reason to celebrate. The Haiti Port-au-Prince Temple was dedicated Sunday for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A choir sang, “The morning breaks” as Church leaders exited the Temple on a bright and sunny morning at about 9 AM for the cornerstone ceremony. Elder David A. Bednar told them there could not have been a more appropriate hymn.
Then he asked them to change one word in the first verse. Instead of, “The dawning of a brighter day/Majestic rises on the world,” he asked them to sing, “Majestic rises on Haiti.” The choir sang again, their voices rising to the heavens as they drew out the name of their beloved country, Haiti.
Children were invited then up to help put in the mortar on the cornerstone. Elder Bednar joked that the professionals would not need to do any touch-ups after that.
The beautiful building has palm leaf and hibiscus patterns throughout, with vivid blue, green and gold coloring representing the colors found throughout this island nation.
“It’s amazing how the temple is a source of light, not only spiritually, but temporally,” said Elder Bednar before the first dedicatory session.
23,000 Latter-day Saints live in this part of the island shared with the Dominican Republic, and people say the new Temple is one of the most beautiful — if not the most beautiful — buildings in the nation. There was so much interest on Sunday that 23 members of the press came from far and near.
Church members used to drive between 8 and 12 hours to attend the Santo Domingo Temple in the Dominican Republic. But it has become increasingly more dangerous and expensive to do so.
Haiti has slowly been recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake. Many people say the new temple will be a place of peace and inspiration to them. Elder Bednar said the Temple will bless the nation.
“It is a place of supernal peace, which prepares you to go back into the world more stronger, and perhaps more purposeful than we were before,” he said.
Several former church missionaries who served in Haiti came back for the dedication, including Richard Bird and Ben Penrod, from Mapleton and Salem Utah respectively. They served from 1998-2000.
“I think the progress you see in the members from the time we were here to now, is huge. The Temple will bind those families together, and it will be impactful for them and for future generations,” said Penrod.
Dangerous conditions and political unrest in the last few years has meant that only Haitians now serve missions in Haiti.
“One of the most amazing things, is that missionaries have been pulled in and out, and Haitians have stepped up and gotten stronger,” said Bird. “For us to come back and see how much the church has grown, is really heartwarming.”
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