MEXICO CITY — Sunday's rededication of the Mexico City Mexico Temple marked a day of returns.
For President Thomas S. Monson, his return to this nation's first temple came almost a quarter-century after he participated in the temple's original dedication in December 1983.
For tens of thousands of Latter-day Saint Mexicans, the rededication signaled a return to a house of worship that had been closed for more than a year to accommodate a massive refurbishing project.
"It is here where God speaks to me," said Cesar Vargas, pointing to the edifice where he works as a gardener and a painter.
Since its closure in April of last year, the temple has undergone a complete makeover on its snow-white, Mayan-influenced exterior. Meanwhile, extensive improvements throughout the building's interior make the temple appear all but new.
On Sunday, thousands of Mexicans from the capital city region filed into the temple to participate in one of the two rededication ceremonies. Many more watched the sessions on closed-circuit broadcasts transmitted to meeting houses in Mexico and to Spanish-speaking congregations in the United States.
The temple's rededication serves as a powerful symbol for many Mexican members.
"I have so much gratitude for this temple — and I'm inspired today to improve and rededicate my own life," said Mexico City resident Arianta Cordoba.
For others, the Mexico City Mexico Temple is beloved for its historical significance. Soon after the LDS Church was introduced in Mexico over a century ago, faithful members began embarking on trips to temples in the United States, typically at great expense. The 1983 dedication of this structure allowed Mexican Mormons unprecedented access to a temple. In recent years, the church has opened 11 more temples in Mexico, stretching from Ciudad Juarez in the north to the Yucatan Peninsula.
Some observant Mormons living in the Mexico City temple district have been able to visit one of the country's other temples during the local closure period. But others have not been able to afford such excursions.
"It like there has been something missing in my spirit and heart," said Vargas.
After rededicating the temple, President Monson spoke of his love for the Mexican people. The church will continue to grow here, he said — and so will temple building efforts in Mexico.
"There will be more," he said.
The church president was joined Sunday by President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, along with members of the Mexican Area Presidency and Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the church's Young Women General Presidency and President's Monson's daughter.