Get married, have a career, raise your kids, then…go to Argentina and help build a very large, high-quality building? It’s not what many of us would picture for ourselves, but Mark and Carrie Fenn can’t think of anything they would rather be doing.It’s not what many of us would picture for ourselves, but Mark and Carrie Fenn can’t think of anything they would rather be doing.
The Fenns are far from their Benson, Arizona home, which is in the St. David Arizona Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are service missionaries helping with the construction of the Córdoba Argentina Temple. A temple is not an ordinary house of worship. Rather, it a place considered by members of the Church to be sacred. Open house tours allow the general public to see the building before a temple is dedicated; but once the dedication takes place, only members in good standing can enter.
Elder and Sister Fenn, as they are called in the mission, began their assignment in Córdoba in August 2011 and will remain until the temple is complete, possibly sometime in January 2015. The beauty and peace reported by visitors to temples is intense. How must it feel, then, to work alongside and under the direction of Church leaders to build a temple? Elder and Sister Fenn love it.
Each missionary at the temple site has a unique role, depending on his or her skills. Sister Fenn is the historian, keeping an extensive record of photos and a weekly narrative of the project’s progress that will become an official Church document. She also performs clerical duties in the on-site office. Elder Fenn serves as a consultant and assistant project manager to the Church-employed project manager. He translates as needed, as many terms used by the architect from the United States are foreign to the local subcontractors. Each missionary at the temple site has a unique role, depending on his or her skills.He also teaches the local workers about the temple, so that their craftsmanship meets the high standards required for a house of the Lord. His physical contributions have included forming the concrete for the baptismal font and helping guide work on exterior concrete finishes for sidewalks and curbs.
Recently Elder Fenn spent two weeks preparing for the placement of a gold-covered statue of the Angel Moroni on the pinnacle of the temple. Moroni was an ancient prophet in the Americas, and was the messenger who led Joseph Smith to the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. His image tops most of the Church’s temples, not to be worshipped, but as a tribute to his role in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A week before the August 13, 2014, placement of the statue, Elder Fenn got to take his son Marcus with him to the top of the steeple as he made the final site check. Marcus and his wife Megan were visiting, and remained to see the placement of the statue. “[It was a] very neat experience,” Marcus said. “[I am] proud of my parents for what they are doing.”
Another noteworthy experience shared by Elder and Sister Fenn has been seeing project managers find or create materials and components locally that they needed to continue the project. The political troubles in Argentina have essentially stopped all imports;The Fenns’ faith has grown as they have seen the Lord’s hand in providing for the building’s progress. only a few concessions have been made to allow the Church to import items that were just not available in Argentina. The Fenns’ faith has grown as they have seen the Lord’s hand in providing for the building’s progress.
It has also been a treasured experience to teach Church members in the area about the sacredness of temples and share with them the excitement and obligations of having a temple so near. Currently, those wishing to attend a temple have to travel 9 – 10 hours by bus to the temple in Buenos Aires.
In June and July of 2013, the Fenns were assigned to help with the final stages of an extensive remodel of the Buenos Aires Temple, where they were able to help install many of the finishing touches and participate in the preparations for the open house there, giving them valuable experience they can use as they help plan and guide the open house and dedication ceremonies for the Córdoba Temple.
Tens of thousands of Arizonans have attended temple open house events in Southern Arizona in the recent past in Snowflake, Gila Valley and Gilbert. Another is scheduled for the recently completed Phoenix Arizona Temple Friday, October 10, through Saturday, November 1, 2014. September 29 will be the first day to reserve tickets for that event.