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VANCOUVER, B.C. -- President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent the weekend in Canada, dedicating a new temple in Vancouver.
Because he had once lived in that country for several years, he told Church members it was like coming home.
On his way into the temple, President Monson saw an old friend from his years as a Canadian mission president.
The weather was cold and rainy but spirits were high as President Monson came out of the temple to seal the cornerstone. Other Church leaders followed, and in keeping with tradition, several children from the crowd were asked to assist.
The president of the Church put in the cornerstone of the Vancouver temple. It's like it wasn't even real.
"I put paste in the walls of the temple," said Grace De Feo. "It felt really spiritual."
Avery Papworth got to help too. "The president of the Church put in the cornerstone of the Vancouver temple," he said. "It's like it wasn't even real."
Latter-day Saints in British Columbia have been hoping and praying for years for their own temple.
"To be able to be here at such an historic moment for our province, for the Church in our province, we've grown so much," said Jocelyn Lee, the Cornerstone Choir director.
Some 22,000 church members in 91 congregations will use the new temple.
"Having grown up in Utah, having a temple close by is, I mean you just expect it," said Church member Michelle Everett. "So we move up here and it's a 10 hour trip to the temple no matter where we live."
Nearly 40,000 visitors toured during the open house, recognizing the natural beauty captured in mural and use of the provincial flower.
"We had religious leaders, we had government leaders, some members of parliament," said Latter-day Saint Blaine Jensen.
President Monson said the new temple stands as a testament of the faith of the Church members it will serve.
"Just to have him there, it's a very special time for all of us here in the northwest," said Gary Hatch, who came all the way from Washington state for the dedication.
The doors of the temple will open early Monday morning for those Latter-day Saints who traveled long distances to participate in the work done in their new temple.