“The Sao Paulo Temple: Story of Sacrifice and Learning,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 58–60
When President Spencer W. Kimball announced at the 1975 Sao Paulo Area Conference that a temple would be built in Sao Paulo, the Saints rejoiced.
But in the three and one-half years since then, they have done much more than rejoice. They have sacrificed, worked, and prepared for an important date: November 7, the day ordinance work begins in the temple. The temple dedication will be held October 29–November 2 in the temple and in the Sao Paulo Brazil Stake Center.
For many of the 208,000 members in Brazil, preparing for the temple involved learning new things about the gospel. Since they haven’t had a temple to attend, gospel teachings about temples have not been emphasized. “We must awaken the concept that after baptism there are many more steps to take,” says Elder Grant L. Bangerter of the First Quorum of the Seventy, area supervisor for Brazil.
“I think the desire is there among the faithful members of the Church, but it’s a new teaching to them. Without a background of teachings about the temple, many of them will think, well, the temple is nice if they like to go. But they won’t see the urgency of it.”
Leaders set goals to help South American Saints understand temple work. At least 2,000 prospective elders should be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by November, so that the men—mostly recent converts—can take their families to the temple. Another goal was for 10,000 Saints to have temple recommends by November. In the past, few members in South America have had temple recommends because of the inaccessibility of temples. “Where we’ve had very few people with a temple recommend in the past, this is a great goal,” says Elder Bangerter.
In addition, all members in South America have been challenged to prepare four generations of genealogy sheets. “If they’re faithful in doing it, we’ll have 100,000 names ready to present to the temple,” he says.
What will be the benefits of temple preparation and participation?
“It will inevitably result in increased faithfulness and devotion, as people realize that they must go to the temple and be more strict in their observance of the commandments,” Elder Bangerter says.
Church members from most of South America are included in the temple district and have sacrificed to achieve its construction. The Sao Paulo Temple district includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Part of the cost of building and furnishing the temple is borne by the general membership of the Church through tithes and offerings.
South American Saints were given a dollar quota, not a peso quota, which meant that despite inflation of the peso, they paid a standard amount converted to United States dollars. South American inflation last year ranged from forty percent in one country to 600 percent in another.
The principal amount was raised in Brazil. Each ward or branch assigned an amount of money to raise has either met or exceeded its goal.
People donated some of their most precious possessions—jewelry and gold.
One young couple in Sao Paulo had saved several thousand dollars for furniture; they donated the money to the temple fund.
A widow in northern Argentina donated her home and began living in a rented facility.
Some families reduced their budgets and food expenses. More prosperous members sometimes gave up their maids, or used public instead of private transportation. Youths saved allowance money. Some walked instead of riding to school. Others went without treats. The money went to the temple fund.
A missionary wrote to his family and asked them to sell his only valuable possession, a microscope. Money from the sale was donated to the temple fund.
In the United States, returned missionaries who had served in South America gave generous donations.
But the sacrifice will not stop with the dedication of the temple. Further sacrifice will be made by members in distant cities who will travel to participate in sacred temple ordinances.
Sao Paulo has the greatest concentration of Church members in Brazil. In the city are sixteen chapels, five stakes, thirty-six wards and branches, two missions, and most of the area offices of Church departments.
The temple is located near a complex of buildings that includes a stake center and visitors’ displays. Church offices are nearby. An area of 7,500 square meters, the temple site includes landscaping and parking.
Construction of the temple began 20 March 1976, with a groundbreaking ceremony at which Elder James E. Faust of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy presided. More than 2,000 Saints attended that ceremony. On 9 March 1977, President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, cemented the cornerstone of the temple in place. President Kimball presided at that ceremony.
Hundreds of members from stakes in the Sao Paulo and Santista Lowland areas cleared the site, overgrown with brush, weeds, and banana trees. More than 500 Saints helped manufacture the white cast stone for the temple exterior. Each day, the work crew tried to outdo the previous day’s production.
The temple structure is designed to be earthquake-proof. Additives give the 2,700 cubic yards of concrete greater durability. The dark bronze exterior grills, windows, and doors are made of anodized cast aluminum. The building also features stained-glass windows and exterior cast panels. The type of stone used on the Los Angeles, Provo, Ogden, Idaho Falls, and Oakland temples is also used on this temple. Made of a mixture of small marble chips and white cement with a final application of silicone, the stone has considerable resistance to pollution.
The thirty-one-meter high temple has a thirteen-meter tower of gold-color porcelain steel plates with a bronze cast finish in “V” shapes.
The temple houses two ordinance rooms with a capacity of eighty-four persons each, a celestial room, four sealing rooms, and a baptismal room where proxy baptisms for the dead will be performed. Facilities include reception area, offices, dressing rooms, kitchen and dining room for temple workers, laundry, nursery, and other conveniences.
The stainless steel baptismal font has a cast marble exterior and appears to be resting on twelve cast marble oxen, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. Water for the font is temperature-controlled and chemically treated to ensure purity.
Most of the furniture and upholstery in the temple is soft-color velvet and satin. Wall coverings in some areas are made of jacaranda from the Mato Grosso. Part of the wall covering in the celestial room is white enameled wood, shaped in arches. The celestial room is lighted by a large central chandelier of Czechoslovakian crystal.
Although the Sao Paulo Temple is smaller than many other temples, it has complete facilities for performing temple ordinances. And, in the words of a general authority who recently visited the construction site—“It’s a jewel.”