MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saint Mexicans celebrated Sept. 13 when President Henry B. Eyring rededicated their country’s first temple, the Mexico City Mexico Temple.
Counted among the many who rejoiced at the reopening of the beloved temple were two sons of Mexico: Elder Benjamin De Hoyos and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela.
The Seventies serve together in the Mexico Area Presidency. Elder De Hoyos is the president. Elder Valenzuela is his second counselor. Both men are lifelong members, seasoned priesthood leaders and humble witnesses of the remarkable, albeit fairly brief, history of temple building in their native land.
The two friends remember well a time, not that long ago, when devout members in Mexico had to cross an international border to claim the blessings of the temple.
Making the trip was rarely easy. Elder De Hoyos is a fourth-generation Latter-day Saint. He comes from a long line of faithful Mormons. But he had to wait until he was a teenager before being sealed in the temple to his family.
“In 1970 my parents were able to raise the money needed to take their six children and travel to Mesa, Arizona, where we received the blessings of the temple and were sealed as an eternal family,” he told the Church News.
A native of the storied Mormon Colonies in Chihuahua, Elder Valenzuela’s first visit to a temple also happened in Mesa. After serving full-time missions in Mexico, both men later returned to the Mesa Arizona Temple to be married to their wives. They prayed for the day when they could worship in a dedicated temple in their own land.
“I remember when many missionaries in Mexico would serve without the benefit of having been endowed in the temple,” said Elder De Hoyos. “And I remember many faithful members who would marry and raise their children without the blessings of the temple because they were unable to travel to Arizona.”
Their prayers were answered in 1979 with a general conference announcement that a temple would be built in Mexico. Four years later, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Mexico City Mexico Temple.
“The Mexico City temple has become a beacon to the more than 20 million people who live in this large metropolitan city,” said Elder Valenzuela. “On a clear day, [passengers on] landing airplanes can see the temple — and the temple can be seen from the city skyscrapers.”
But more important, he added, the Mexico City Mexico Temple stands tall as a spiritual beacon for the Valenzuela family and hundreds of thousands of other Mexican Latter-day Saints.
“This temple has lightened our lives for more than three decades,” he said. “Coming back here [for the rededication] brings joy and happiness to our hearts.”
The Mexico City temple, added Elder De Hoyos, “is a fulfillment of the promises made by our loving Heavenly Father to our father Lehi. It is a tangible representation of the covenant established between the Lord and a remnant of the House of Israel — represented by the Saints in Mexico.”
The rededicated Mexico City Mexico Temple will serve members from 91 stakes. They are grateful to once again have a temple functioning in one of the world’s largest cities.
“Members across the country have expressed gratitude for being a part of the rededication,” said Elder Valenzuela. “They have learned what rededication means and how to apply it in their lives. Families and couples came out of the sessions with [desires] to become better husbands, wives and people.
“The youth, with bold smiles, also spoke of how grateful they were for having again the opportunity to attend the [Mexico City temple] with names of their ancestors to perform ordinances.”
As president of the Mexico Area, Elder De Hoyos recognizes the importance the rededicated Mexico City temple once again plays in the lives of his fellow members — including his own relatives.
“My family and I so appreciate having this temple in our lives,” he said.
[email protected] @JNSwensen