Students were overjoyed last weekend after hearing President Russell M. Nelson announce 13 new temples to be built in places close to their hearts. He also announced the reconstruction of the Provo, Utah Temple.
The announcement was made during the Sunday afternoon session of this October’s General Conference. Construction sites for new temples will now dot the map across Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They include:
- Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Tacloban City, Philippines
- Monrovia, Liberia
- Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Antananarivo, Madagascar
- Culiacán, México
- Vitória, Brazil
- La Paz, Bolivia
- Santiago West, Chile
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Cody, Wyoming
- Rexburg North, Idaho
- Heber Valley, Utah
This struck a chord with a number of BYU students, who either lived, have loved ones or served their missions in one of these locations.
BYU alumnus Carson Hardy served his mission in Madagascar and has been waiting for this announcement ever since he got home. This year, the Sunday session fell on his birthday; he wrote in a social media post that the news of a temple being built in Antananarivo, Madagascar, was the “Best birthday present ever!”
“I was both shocked and just ecstatic at the same time. I jumped up with joy,” Hardy said. “And then I immediately went to social media, obviously. Cause I was like, I need to be the first one to post.”
Hardy still has a number of connections in Madagascar who have, until now, had to travel to the Johannesburg, South Africa temple — a journey of more than 1,000 miles. While he was thrilled, he knew it was even more meaningful to them.
“There was my reaction, which is like, the basic missionary reaction. I feel like, ‘oh my country is finally getting a temple.’ But this is much more meaningful to them. And you can see it in their faces,” he said.
Hannah Hayden, a junior in the communications disorder program at BYU, lived in China for six years before serving a mission in Taiwan. She said most of the Church community she interacted with were first generation members, with the exception of a few multi-generation families.
Hayden was cooking pasta as President Nelson spoke, and dropped everything to listen when she heard Kaohsiung, Taiwan among the list of new temples.
“I felt really excited for the people in Taiwan because even though the Church isn’t the majority of believers there, it’s exciting that the people who are members are doing what they can to establish Zion. And now they have a temple to help them out with that,” Hayden said.
Rexburg, a city with a more established Church presence, will also be getting a new temple in the coming years. It will be the city’s second temple; the first one was dedicated in 2008.
Megan Brugger, a sophomore in the communications program at BYU, is a Rexburg native who would have never anticipated this news.
“When we got the first Rexburg temple, it was a big enough deal that we never thought there’d be a second one. So I was really surprised and really excited, but really shocked. I really thought that I heard wrong,” Brugger said.