In 1970, Gregory E. Billikopf was attending a Catholic school as a young boy on the site of the future Santiago Chile Temple. During the spring of that year, his priest announced that they would be selling the school to the Mormons. The priest asked the students to write a report on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This simple class assigment resulted in a spiritual witness which later resulted in Gergory's conversion to the gospel. He later wrote: "How was I to know, as a youth in that religion class, that one day, on that very property, I would attend the house of the Lord--the Santiago Chile Temple?" (Ensign, January 1992, Billikopf, "On Sacred Ground.")

On May 30, 1981, ground was broken for the Santiago Chile Temple by President Spencer W. Kimball. The ceremony was conducted in a cold rain attended by 6,000 members of the Church.

During April, 1982 General Conference, Elder W. Grant Bangerter remarked that when the Santiago temple was announced, that there were only three thousand priesthood holders among the one hundred thousand members in Chile. "We determined, therefore, that we would prepare at least ten thousand men to be thus ordained so that they with their faithful companions could then go to the temple. The Saints in Chile have also undertaken the responsibility to prepare one hundred thousand names of their deceased relatives to take with them to the temple by the time it is ready." (Conference Report, April 1982)

On Sept 15-17, 1983, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Santiago Chile Temple. He prayed: "Bless thy work upon this great continent of South America which is part of the land of Zion. Bless they work in this nation of Chile. May all that has been done in the past be but a prologue to a far greater work in the future. May they people be recognized for the virtue of their lives. May there be an ever-growing number of wards and stakes. May Thy people be recognized for the virtue of their lives. Bless the land with peace and righteousness, and bless all who govern that Thy sons and daughters may rejoice in the nation of which they are a part." (Church News, September 25, 1983, p. 4)

In October, 1983 Conference, President Hinckley said: "Only a fortnight ago we were in Santiago, Chile, for the dedication of another beautiful temple. For me it was a miracle to be with more than 15,000 Latter-day Saints who assembled for these dedicatory services which extended over a period of three days. The nation of Chile is 2,700 miles long, and our faithful people gathered from such distant cities as Arica in the far north and Punta Arenas in the far south to rejoice over the marvelous blessing that had come to them in the erection and dedication of this sacred house of God. Among them were Brother and Sister Ricardo Garcia, the first to be baptized when missionaries were sent to Chile in 1956. Only twenty-seven years later, there are more than 140,000 members of the Church in that nation." (Conference Report, October, 1983)

Eugene Foss Olsen and Rae Stephens Jones Olsen were called to be the first president and matron of the Santiago Chile Temple. Sister Rae Olsen submitted to LDS-GEMS some of her experiences while in Chile:

"When the Angel Moroni temple statue arrived in Chile during the construction, it took a little too long at the customs so the plane took off with the Angel Moroni still aboard. So the saying was, 'The angel Moroni was flying through the midst of heaven,' before it finally returned to Santiago."

While serving in Santiago, a terrible and tragic 8.5 earthquake hit Chile. An LDS chapel was converted into a hospital. Sister Olsen writes: "They used the Bishop's office for their blood bank and other areas of the building for similar things. The saying went around that more Catholic babies were born in the LDS Church than at anytime before! After the earthquake we walked over to the temple in Santiago, Chile to see how it had fared. Some plaster had fallen on the carpet from the ceiling, and there was a small crack in the machinery room. The angel Moroni had tossed his trumpet out in the flower bed and it had to be restored with a long crane from the firetruck. This time they anchored the trumpet in two places, so it wouldn't happen again.

Sister Olsen recalls with great love about the early temple workers in Chile. "It was a tremendous joy to work with the Chilean temple workers! They were so cooperative and so anxious to serve and would do anything required of them, always going the extra mile! Before we left all the temple workers from the U. S. had gone home and we didn't have any workers except Chileans and they were doing a great job serving the Lord in the Temple!" (E-mail from Rae Olsen to David Crockett on Oct 2, 1997)

See a picture of the Santiago Chile Temple and the temple schedule at: