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Latter-Day Saints From Liberia to Bolivia React to President Nelson’s Announcement of 13 New Temples

Attendees leave for a conference with President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in La Paz, Bolivia, on Sunday, October 21, 2018. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of Church News. Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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By Jason Swensen and Scott Taylor, Church News

President Russell M. Nelson’s announcement during general conference of future temples in 13 cities around the world reflects the Church’s growth and the dedication of countless Latter-day Saints.

Locations of the 13 temples announced in the October 2021 General Conference. Graphic courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

The temples will be constructed in or near the following locations:

  • Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Tacloban City, Philippines
  • Monrovia, Liberia
  • Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • Culiacán, México
  • Vitória, Brazil
  • La Paz, Bolivia
  • Santiago West, Chile
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cody, Wyoming
  • Rexburg North, Idaho
  • Heber Valley, Utah
President Russell M. Nelson delivers the closing address of the 191st Semiannual General Conference on Sunday afternoon, October 3, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Here is some background on the announced temple sites — and joyous reactions from many with strong ties to those locales:

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

With more than 2.75 million residents in southern Taiwan, Kaohsiung is the third most populous city in Taiwan. With more than 61,000 Latter-day Saints in about 110 congregations, Taiwan is home to one operating temple, the Taipei Taiwan Temple, dedicated in 1984.

Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

Todd Warner of South Jordan, Utah, lives thousands of miles from Kaohsiung, but he was still thrilled to hear a second temple will be built in Taiwan.

“When I was there 20 years ago, members were hopeful that a temple would be built in Kaohsiung. They frequently discussed locations that would be perfect for a temple,” he said.

Warner remembers Latter-day Saints from the Kaohsiung area renting a bus each month to travel to the temple in Taipei. “Having a temple in Kaohsiung will be a game changer for members in southern Taiwan.”

Because of the difference in time zones from Salt Lake City to the Far East, Taiwan Taichung Mission President Karl J. Fields was able to break the “glorious news” to his missionaries just as they were awakening. The announcement of a temple in southern Taiwan “is the answer to many, many prayers of the faithful Saints of southern Taiwan,” he told the Church News.

President Fields served a full-time mission to Taiwan more than 40 years ago when the Church was still relatively young. As he and his wife, Sister Melanie Fields, have returned as mission leaders, they now find second-, third- and fourth-generation Latter-day Saints raising “amazing young men and young women” who are serving missions.

The Church is growing and strengthening in the East Asian island country. “This is truly fulfillment of the prophecy that temples will dot the lands of the world,” President Fields said.

Tacloban City, Philippines

Located in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines, Tacloban was hit by a deadly typhoon in 2013. With more than 805,000 Church members in more than 1,225 congregations, the Philippines will have eight temples. Two are operating in Manila and Cebu City; three are under construction in Alabang, Davao and Urdaneta; and two have been announced for Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro.

Tacloban City, Philippines. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

“This is wonderful news because travel can be expensive even inside of the country,” said Edgar Galura, a Filipino Latter-day Saint.

Galura is not surprised that another temple will be added to the growing list in his Asian island country. The gospel’s message has long resonated with his people. “Filipinos are humble and have strong beliefs in God and family,” he said.

Monrovia, Liberia

This will be the first temple in the West African nation of Liberia, which is home to about 15,000 Latter-day Saints and more than 50 congregations. A coastal city, Monrovia is the capital of Liberia. Missionary work began in the country in 1987.

Monrovia, Liberia. Image is an adobe stock image, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

“I am the happiest person right now,” said Samuel Sayon, a member from Brewerville, Liberia. “I am so, so excited.”

Added his fellow Liberian Latter-day Saint Alfred Mulbah of Kakata, Liberia: “This is a great blessing from our Heavenly Father. He loves us.”

Texas native Jacob Egan recently returned from the Liberia Monrovia Mission. He shares the enthusiasm of his Liberian friends.

“Having a temple in Liberia will help the Church grow and provide many more opportunities for the members to serve in the temple,” said Egan, adding the Liberian members currently have to travel to Ghana to worship in a temple.

Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The first missionaries arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the country now home to more than 68,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 200 congregations. DR Congo has one temple operating in Kinshasa and another announced for Lubumbashi.

Democratic Republic of the Congo. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.


Antananarivo, Madagascar

The Church has been in Madagascar since 1993, now with 13,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 40 congregations. The temple will be the nation’s first. Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar, with a population of 1.4 million.

Antananarivo, Madagascar. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

Domoina Kendell has been hoping for a temple in her native Madagascar for the last several years.

“I have no words to express my gratitude to Heavenly Father. This will bring so many blessings for the people of Madagascar,” said Kendell, who moved to the United States in 2002 and lives in West Valley City, Utah. “I think having a temple there will bring a different perspective of family history work.

Currently, Church members travel from Madagascar, which is an island, to Johannesburg, South Africa — some 1,700 miles. She received her endowment in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple when she served a mission in Durban, South Africa.

When she heard President Nelson announce a temple in Antananarivo, and after the initial excitement, Kendell said tears came.

“I am so happy for [the Malagasy people]. … I commend their hard work and diligence and their faith,” she said.

Culiacán, México

Officially named Culiacán Rosales, the city in northwestern Mexico has a population of about 850,000. Missionary work opened in Mexico in 1875; the country now is home to 1.5 million Latter-day Saints and about 1,850 congregations. The country has 13 operating temples, in Ciudad Juárez; Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua; Guadalajara; Hermosillo, Sonora; Mérida; Mexico City; Monterrey; Oaxaca; Tampico; Tijuana; Tuxtla Gutiérrez; Veracruz; and Villahermosa. A temple is under construction in Puebla, with two announced for Torreón and Querétaro.

Culiacán, México. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

“My emotions can’t fit in my chest,” Culiacán Mexico Stake President Marco Medina told the Church News following President Nelson’s temple announcement. “We are very happy to have received this news from our prophet. We know that the Lord has heard our prayers and we will continue to work to be worthy of it.”

President Medina said members in his stake currently have to travel approximately nine hours to visit temples in Hermosillo and Guadalajara. “Now we can do ordinances to reunite families for eternity.”

Vitória, Brazil

The capital of the southeastern Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, Vitória is located on a small island within a bay where several rivers meet the sea. The coastal community has two major ports. With more than 1.4 million Latter-day Saints in nearly 2,150 congregations, Brazil has 13 other temples — seven operating in Campinas, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife and São Paulo; one completed and preparing to be dedicated, in Rio de Janeiro; three under construction in Belém, Brasília and Salvador; with temples announced for Belo Horizonte and São Paulo East.

Vitória, Brazil. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

Wanessa Ferreira Roncate of the Jardim da Penha Ward, Vitória Brazil Stake, said she does not have words to explain her excitement about a new temple in Vitória. Members in her area currently travel 13 hours to attend the Campinas Brazil Temple, about 620 miles (1000km) away.

“We were already immensely happy and grateful for the Rio temple, which cuts the trip in half, and we look forward to its dedication,” she told the Church News. Now, having a temple in Vitória will be “a privilege and blessing.”

“It’s one more testimony that God sees our efforts, that He loves us and cares for us,” she said. “The Lord is hastening His work, and what a privilege to be a part of it. We have a lot of work to do, on both sides of the veil, and it’s not just any work, it’s the best work ever. It is the Lord’s work.”

La Paz, Bolivia

With more than 212,000 Church members, Bolivia will have three temples — one in Cochabamba, which was dedicated in 2000, and another announced last year by President Nelson for Santa Cruz. The third temple will serve members in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, where the Church has seen significant growth.

An aerial photo of La Paz, Bolivia, on October 21, 2018. President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke in La Paz. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of Church News. Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company.

La Paz native Guizella Rocabado fought back emotion, considering how the future temple will forever change her country’s administrative capital.

Civil troubles are common in the city, she said. A dedicated temple can bring unity and light to La Paz.

“I hope that this temple can bring peace to the area — I know that it will,” she told the Church News moments after President Nelson’s announcement. “The people need some rest. They need peace and something they can look to for answers and purpose.”

On a personal level, Rocabado’s late father, Gustavo Rocabado, worked as an engineer at the Bolivia Cochabamba Temple. “I know how excited he must be.”

Santiago West, Chile

The temple will be the fourth in the country and the second in the capital city, joining the Santiago Chile Temple (dedicated in 1983), Concepción Chile Temple (2018) and the Antofagasta Chile Temple (under construction). More than 600,000 Latter-day Saints in over 500 congregations call Chile home. Santiago is the country’s largest city, with a population of nearly seven million residents.

Santiago, Chile. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

“The announcement of the new temple for the western area of Santiago de Chile, in the midst of a fight against the pandemic, comes from the heavens through our prophet,” wrote M. Gonzalo Sepúlveda, a Chilean Latter-day Saint and a former Area Seventy.

“It is a powerful injection of spirituality [in Santiago] that will bless the lives of its inhabitants on both sides of the veil.”

Fort Worth, Texas

With more than 360,000 Church members, Texas has five temples already — operating temples in nearby Dallas as well as Houston, San Antonio and Lubbock, with a temple in McAllen under construction. Fort Worth is located west of Dallas in north central Texas, where missionary work dates back to 1843.

Fort Worth, Texas. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

“We are so excited because the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex is growing so fast,” said Erik Egan of the Lewisville Texas Stake. “To have a temple in the Fort Worth area will be a great blessing.”

Egan said COVID-19’s ongoing effect on temple work has given many Latter-day Saints in his community a heightened appreciation for temple work. Now they rejoice that a temple will be closer than ever to their bustling Texas community.

Cody, Wyoming

This will be the third temple in Wyoming, where approximately 68,000 people are Latter-day Saints, or one of every nine residents in the state. Wyoming’s first temple is operating in Star Valley; the second, in Casper, will have its groundbreaking later this week, on October 9.

Cody, located in northwest Wyoming just east of Yellowstone, is a small farm town with a population of about 10,000. Named for Colonel William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the town is known as the “rodeo capital of the world.”

Cody, Wyoming. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

“I’m stunned and just so grateful that the Prophet felt like we needed a temple in Cody,” said Cody Wyoming Stake President Andrew Jacobsen. “To have a temple here will be a blessing for the entire Big Horn Basin.”

A native of Cody, President Jacobsen said the future temple will allow local Latter-day Saints to enjoy more conversations with their neighbors about the gospel.

When Amanda Parks of the Cody 4th Ward, Cody Wyoming Stake, heard President Nelson read the name of her town, she was shocked. “My Facebook feed is all ‘What?’ ‘Cody, Wyoming?’ ‘Really?’ People are super excited,” she said.

Parks said her town has a strong Latter-day Saint community. “It’s really exciting,” she said of the new temple. “I know everyone here is really excited for the blessings that come from that, and it’s going to be really awesome.”

Members in the area currently travel about 90 miles to Billings, Montana, to serve in the temple.

Rexburg North, Idaho

In addition to Sunday’s announced second temple for Rexburg, the city is home to one of Idaho’s five operating temples — the others are in Boise, Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. The Pocatello Idaho Temple will be dedicated on November 7, and a future temple in Burley has a site and a rendering. The state has more than 460,000 members in nearly 1,200 congregations, with early Church pioneers first settling in what is now Idaho in 1855.

BYU–Idaho campus in Rexburg on September 23, 2019. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy of Church News. Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Kimbal Smith is a Brigham Young University–Idaho student and native of Southeastern Idaho. He knows well the area’s strong Latter-day Saint presence. Still, he was not expecting President Nelson’s temple announcement. It made for an unexpected gift.

“It was a surprise that there would be another temple in Rexburg because of the temple already here, and temples close by in Idaho Falls and [soon] in Pocatello.”

Still, he is humbled by what a second temple represents: a sacred responsibility to serve and perform essential family history work.

“We will have no excuse not to go to the temple,” he said.

Heber Valley, Utah

Heber Valley is in Utah’s Wasatch County, about 40 miles from Salt Lake City. With more than 2.1 million members of the Church in some 5,230 congregations, Utah is home to 27 temples. Dedicated temples include the Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Draper, Jordan River, Logan, Manti, Monticello, Mount Timpanogos, Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Payson, Provo, Provo City Center, Salt Lake, St. George and Vernal temples. Others under construction or announced are the Deseret Peak, Ephraim, Layton, Lindon, Orem, Red Cliffs, Saratoga Springs, Smithfield, Syracuse and Taylorsville temples.

Memorial Hill in Heber City, Utah. Adobe Stock image, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

“My heart exploded with so much happiness; my daughter Ellie jumped off the couch saying, ‘No way!’ — and my phone started blowing up with excitement from friends and family,” said Taunya Olsen, a member of the Old Mill 2nd Ward, Heber City Utah Old Mill Stake.

“I’m literally in tears knowing the spirit of the temple of the Lord’s house will be nestled in our valley. It’s like a blanket of hope and peace and love and joy.”

Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company

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