Following the Sunday dedicatory service of the Panama City Panama Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church President Thomas S. Monson joined with other Church leaders in a Monday meeting with Panamanian President Martín Torrijos and his wife, Vivian Fernández de Torrijos.
In response to President Torrijos’ inquiries, President Monson shared details of the temple construction and dedication. President Monson also accepted the Panamanian leader’s gratitude for the humanitarian efforts extended by the Church in Panama. Of particular interest in the discussion were the numerous projects that benefit children, such as wheelchair distribution, measles and polio vaccine initiatives and literacy efforts.
Mrs. Torrijos described her visit to the temple open house, sharing impressions of the temple itself as well as of the Church members who greeted her and guided the tour of the facility.
During the discussions, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, offered his perspective on the value of the temple to the members of the Latter-day Saint community in Panama but also suggested that the temple would bring strength and blessings to all the residents of the country.
In discussing the impact of the Panama Canal, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted the changes in the world facilitated by the construction and operation of the canal. Elder Scott also shared his feelings that the Panama City temple would become an important part of the country’s landscape.
President Monson presented the Torrijos with a sculpture depicting a child’s first steps. The Church leader conveyed his interpretation of the art, a message that relationships begin with small steps as we learn from one another and strengthen one another.
The first congregation in Panama was organized in 1941. Today there are over 41,000 Church members in Panama.