There is an oft-spoken Colombian expression that Latter-day Saints here perhaps utter with deeper meaning following Sunday’s dedication of the Barranquilla Colombia Temple: “El que tiene tienda que la atienda.”

Translated literally, it means whoever owns the store attends and cares for it. Metaphorically, it’s a reminder to take ownership and accountability for anything of great value and importance.

As worshippers walked out of the Church’s 161st temple Sunday following one of the day’s three dedicatory sessions, they seemed almost unaware of the stifling Caribbean heat. Instead, they appeared refreshed by a soaring combination of joy and renewed dedication.

“This day is so special for me because my German ancestors came initially to Barranquilla—this is where my family’s history in Colombia began,” said Elder Mathias Held, a General Authority Seventy and a Bogota native. “But now that the temple is here, we can never take it for granted. We need to make sure we come here often.”

One of Elder Held’s fellow Colombian converts, Barranquilla resident Juan Carlos Cabrera, echoed his thoughts:

“I feel so blessed today—we’ve looked forward to this Sunday since this temple was announced. I bought an apartment so close to the temple that I can walk; there’s no reason for me not to serve.”

A defining day in Colombia

Visiting General Authorities and their wives outside the Barranquilla Colombia Temple. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Almost two decades have passed since Colombian Latter-day Saints celebrated the opening of their country’s first temple—the Bogota Colombia Temple, dedicated on April, 24, 1999, by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Now a second Colombian temple is found in the country’s northern tip near the Caribbean Sea, a region known to produce top-flight soccer players, champion prizefighters, and some of the world’s friendliest people.

President Dallin H. Oaks presided over Sunday’s dedication. By the time he left the temple, the sun was falling and the day seemed anxious to end. But many from the Barranquilla temple district waited around to bid farewell to the First Counselor in the First Presidency.

“This was a magnificent occasion at an extraordinarily beautiful temple,” he told the Church News following the dedication. “Sister Oaks and I were thrilled to be a part of this, and we pray for the Lord’s blessings to be upon the people of this nation and the work of the Lord here.”

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