San Salvador, El Salvador — Salvadorans have endured plenty of emotional scrapes and bruises in recent decades. Many here have lived through devastating earthquakes, economic struggle and the horrors of civil war.
But despite such hardships, Salvadorans are a resilient lot. Many say their future promises better days ahead.
That optimism was on display over the weekend as LDS Salvadorans celebrated the opening of their nation's first temple with thanksgiving, song and dance. The festivities were highlighted Sunday morning with the dedication of the San Salvador El Salvador Temple. It is the 135th LDS temple in operation and the fourth of its kind in the church's Central America Area.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided at Sunday's three dedicatory sessions. Thousands participated in the dedication inside the temple while many more viewed the proceedings via closed circuit broadcast to meetinghouses across El Salvador and several other Central American nations.
"We have been waiting for this day for many years," said member Dixey de Castro, who arrived several hours before the first session to claim a good spot to view the temple's traditional outdoor cornerstone ceremony.
During the cornerstone ceremony, President Eyring told de Castro and the many others in attendance that the temple's cornerstone is a symbol of the divine cornerstone in a person's life — Jesus Christ. President Eyring was joined at Sunday's temple dedication by several general authorities, including Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder William R. Walker, Elder Enrique R. Falabella, Elder James B. Martino and Elder Carlos H. Amado of the Seventy.
Sister Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and a native of El Salvador, also participated in the dedication.
Devout members say a temple on Salvadoran soil will forever change their lives.
"It's difficult to express just how much this temple means to us," said Julio Hernandez, who traveled to the dedication from his home in San Miguel in eastern El Salvador. "This temple dedication gives Salvadoran members a special chance to rededicate our own lives to this work."
The work of building temples in Central America is not over. A second temple will be dedicated in Guatemala later this year and the first temple in Honduras is under construction.
On Saturday, thousands of young LDS Salvadorans celebrated their new temple by staging an evening of song and traditional folk dance at the National Gymnasium in San Salvador.
Cast members arrived from all corners of the country and donned colorful costumes to perform for President Eyring and the visiting authorities, along with scores of other spectators.
President Eyring saluted the efforts of the young performers while counseling them to live faithful lives and to seize the singular opportunities offered by their new temple.