We were able to go to the Mérida Mexico Temple this weekend with 42 other members of the Belize District. As I anticipated the trip, I thought about a General Conference talk given by Elder Holland several years ago where he talked about members from the most southern town in Chile and their experience of attending the Santiago Chile Temple. Elder Holland describes the location of the stake where this story takes place as the "Church’s southernmost stake anywhere on this planet". Here is Elder Holland's description of their experience taken from the April 2004 General Conference:
The Punta Arenas Chile Stake is the Church’s southernmost stake anywhere on this planet, its outermost borders stretching toward Antarctica. Any stake farther south would have to be staffed by penguins. For the Punta Arenas Saints it is a 4,200-mile round-trip bus ride to the Santiago temple. For a husband and wife it can take up to 20 percent of an annual local income just for the transportation alone. Only 50 people can be accommodated on the bus, but for every excursion 250 others come out to hold a brief service with them the morning of their departure.
Pause for a minute and ask yourself when was the last time you stood on a cold, windswept parking lot adjacent to the Strait of Magellan just to sing with, pray for, and cheer on their way those who were going to the temple, hoping your savings would allow you to go next time? One hundred ten hours, 70 of those on dusty, bumpy, unfinished roads looping out through Argentina’s wild Patagonia. What does 110 hours on a bus feel like? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that some of us get nervous if we live more than 110 miles from a temple or if the services there take more than 110 minutes. While we are teaching the principle of tithing to, praying with, and building ever more temples for just such distant Latter-day Saints, perhaps the rest of us can do more to enjoy the blessings and wonder of the temple regularly when so many temples are increasingly within our reach.
Well, it turns out that we didn't spend 110 hours on a bus....our experience wasn't quite that long. We did travel 650 miles round trip which took us 24 hours of traveling time. We left our house on Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm. We returned home Saturday night at 10:00 pm. That is 30 hours that we were gone. During that 30 hours we were either on a bus (trying to sleep), going through immigration, transferring buses between Belize and Mexico, eating at a roadside diner at 2:00 a.m., buying ice cream from a street vendor in Mérida and, of course, we were 6 hours in the temple.
The temple is the House of the Lord. In it we truly felt our Heavenly Father's love for us, His children. Mormon.org describes the temple as: "A quiet, holy place where we can seek answers to prayers, reflect on life and its priorities, and learn eternal truths about the purpose of our time here on earth."
Elder and Sister Adams wrote a detailed description of what went on in a previous Belize District Mérida Temple trip on their blog, with additional photos. You can read about their experience by clicking here.
The top two pictures are of our group as we drove through Belize on a school bus to the border. The bottom picture is the bus we took from Chetumal, Mexico north to Mérida.
This is a picture of the sunset that we saw from our boat ride home.
You can also see the video by clicking here.
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