QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala — For a Utah resident such as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, there's perhaps no better time to visit Guatemala — "Land of Eternal Spring" — than in the middle of December.
"To be here in December when the flowers are blooming is wonderful for us," said President Uchtdorf.
On Sunday under temperate skies, the church leader dedicated the Quetzaltenango Guatemala Temple. It becomes the nation's second such edifice and the 136th LDS temple in operation.
Thousands of church members from across western Guatemala participated in the day's three dedicatory sessions.
The new temple district has a decidedly indigenous character. Many of the members are of Mayan heritage and it's common for the women and girls to still wear the colorful native skirts and blouses of the region.
A Mayan-influenced motif can also be found in the temple's ornate interior stone, glass and woodwork. The artistic design serves as an aesthetic nod to the region's rich indigenous history and proud culture.
Prior to the dedication, President Uchtdorf presided over the traditional cornerstone ceremony outside the temple. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve and several other General Authorities joined him.
"This temple will bring eternal families to this place and country," President Uchtdorf said to the scores gathered outside the temple for the cornerstone event.
He then saluted the young LDS members of the region who participated in Saturday's cultural program in Quetzaltenango. That event was a musical celebration of heritage, history and faith.
"Today," he noted, "we celebrate the same thing in a spiritual way."
President Uchtdorf passed along greetings from LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson to the Guatemalan members. He joked that the cornerstone ceremony enjoys an element of fun because he and the other General Authorities — all construction "laymen" — would do their best handling trowel and mortar to seal the temple cornerstone.
He then spoke of the solemnity of the day.
"After today's dedication, the (Quetzaltenango) temple will be as sacred as the temple of Solomon, the temple in Nauvoo, the temple in Salt Lake City, or any of the temples in the world."
Elder Andersen also offered a brief comment, saying, "It is a great blessing for us to be with you all."
Quetzaltenango is Guatemala's second largest city. Some 60,000 members from 14 stakes live in the new temple district. The nation's first temple was built in Guatemala City and dedicated in 1984 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.