After the death of his wife, Leonor, in 1955, Udine Falabella found a Latter-day Saint pamphlet outlining the doctrine of the temple. The idea that he could be sealed to his family for eternity prompted him to contact missionaries, and a short time later he and his children were baptized.
Two years later, Falabella became president of the first district in Guatemala. When asked what goal he had for the members of his district, his response was unequivocal: “Go to the temple.” At that time, the nearest temple was more than 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away in Mesa, Arizona. Perhaps discouraged by the cost of such a trip, most members seemed indifferent.
Group journeys had been proposed before, but none had succeeded. When Falabella announced his plan for a group trip for members of the district to attend the temple, his enthusiasm was met with skepticism. Falabella and his counselors visited Church members in their homes and personally extended a challenge to make the necessary arrangements to attend the temple. Many accepted the challenge.
Over the next year, members worked diligently to save money and prepare to attend the temple. Many raised funds by selling food and crafts. When this was not enough, some sold their possessions. Falabella met with them to check their progress in acquiring the funds. “It [is] not a matter of money but of faith,” he reminded them.
During one meeting, a sister complained she had no way to come up with the money. Falabella urged her to have faith. He asked her to apply for a passport and visa, explaining that the Lord asks that we do all we can to prepare to receive His blessings.
A few weeks later, she returned with her paperwork, but she still lacked the money. Falabella reiterated the need to have faith. Within days, the woman’s brother, who was not a member of the Church, offered to pay for her and her mother to attend the temple.
In November 1965, Latter-day Saints from all over Guatemala, joined by Saints from El Salvador, made the journey by bus to Arizona. Welcomed into the homes of members in Arizona who hosted them during their stay, they spent four days in the temple receiving ordinances for themselves and for their deceased relatives.
From 1965 to 1983, members in Guatemala made annual trips to Arizona to attend the temple. In 1984 a temple was built in Guatemala City. Udine Falabella later served as president of the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple.