Once the groundbreaking ceremony for the Durban South Africa temple had been concluded, the saints shared their feeling about the event. The reality of things was starting to set in for the chance, as one missionary put it, 'to see a piece of land change to a piece of heaven'.
Brother Chappie Winstanley, the first stake president in Durban, felt blessed to have witnessed this moment which he had never even envisaged. Brother Winstanley paid tribute to those who had made sacrifices through their many contributions who would never be recognized and to those who had passed beyond the veil. He also pointed out that the Zulu name, Umhlanga, means 'gather'. “And so it’s a gathering place and I thought that was significant.”
Early LDS Church leaders from Durban were present, such as Brother Colin Bricknell, a former stake president and his wife, Jenny Bricknell, who have spent years of their lives building the kingdom in this area of the Lord’s vineyard. All were emotional and almost overwhelmed at the great blessing the temple would be for the members. They could foresee opportunities for retirees to serve as missionaries and ordinance workers in the temple and a growth opportunity all round.
One of the members attending, Brother Basil Smith said that it would be a great place of peace and sanctity for the members as the times become more tense and unsettled and as a refuge from the world. His wife, Sister Anne-Marie Smith, who has served as a family history consultant, is very excited that the members will have access to the temple to do the work for their families right where they live instead of waiting to go to the temple in Johannesburg. Those unable to obtain the blessings of the temple due to financial restrictions and adverse conditions would also now be able to come to the house of the Lord.
Bishop Ricoh is one of the Church leaders in Natal who has been encouraging members to start organizing their lives so that they could visit the temple on a regular basis and serve in the temple. The number of temple recommends has increased over the past six months as members catch the vision of having a temple in their midst.
President Bradley Bricknell was asked if having the temple would change his life. “No doubt!” he said. This is the second temple in this country and he felt it was an endorsement of sorts from the Lord for the future of this country.
The Mkhize sisters were exuberant and one described having a temple in their midst as “Not even a blessing. I don’t even know what it is. It’s beyond a blessing – heaven on earth!”
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a Member of Parliament and invited guest at the groundbreaking, spoke about the beauty of Latter-day Saint temples around the world. His remarks touched on his own family of eight children and many grandchildren. He paid tribute to his wife, Princess Irene, who had been at his side for almost sixty four years. He praised the central tenet of the Mormon Church and the members to live morally upright lives and expressed admiration for the Mormon missionaries. He spoke about the many temptations the youth of the country faced and how they needed an alternative to despair and destruction. “Young people are looking for something they can believe in, for someone to follow. They want to believe that they can create change with their own actions”, he said.
After the ceremony people lingered and many of the invited guests expressed a desire to just stay there. The temple grounds have already become “a gathering place” indeed!