From Rae Olsen: We were called as the first Temple President and Matron in Chile. Pinochet was now President. A short time before that the mission President's wife told us that Mrs. Pinochet was a neighbor and often borrowed her Ensign to read. Pinochet's sister lived in the same apartment we did. The Church did well while he was President, as far as we were able to ascertain. We were there from 1983 to 1985 and the Church was growing fast. When we left they were scheduled to build 100 new chapels that year. They were baptizing about 20,000 a year. We understood that 1 in every 10 people baptized in the world was Chilean. We attended a meeting in a chapel there and a brother pointed out a couple in attendance who had received a brochure from the Catholic Church telling the people to beware of the Mormon Church. So they decided to attend that meeting to find out what they were like. Two weeks later we were invited to a Family Home Evening at this Brother's home. When we arrived we met this couple, who were now baptized members of the Church!
We were there during the 8.5 earthquake. On the coast where it hit the hardest at San Antonio, a hospital was destroyed, so they had to use our chapel nearby for the hospital. 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 L.D.S. church than at anytime before. In several of the cities the only drinking water available was at the well of the newly finished L.D.S. chapel and that is where the people came to get their water.
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.
Speaking of the Angel Moroni, when it 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.
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!
There was a missionary training center next door in the P.B.I.O office. The missionaries there went through the temple before starting their mission, but were not permitted to attend the temple again until the termination of their missionary assignment.
We attended some Stake Conferences where no one was present from the U.S. except us and it was held as successfully as any Conferences we ever attended. They had good leadership and the Stakes and Wards were doing fine!
My husband was Regional Representative full time in the Andes Area before being called as Temple President. It was during a period of time when they were dividing Stakes extremely fast! Pres. Wells called it "explosive growth". It was such a joy to work in those areas where the work of the Lord was progressing so rapidly!
In the village of Primero de Mayo, 8 or 10 kilometers from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, a branch was organized with thirty members. Two years later there were two Wards with over 600 members. Fortunately the Stake President lived there and could give personal assistance to the two Bishops, neither of whom had been in the church two years yet.
(This information is being given directly from my head, so I haven't looked up any statistics, but this is the way I remember it). It was so exciting and enjoyable! We met the Palmer's while in Chile. Their son had been a missionary in our Mission (Mexico West) a number of years before that sometime between the years 1967 and 1971, and we had met President and Sister A. Delbert Palmer at that time. They had already served in Chile. Elder Robert H. Burton, a missionary in our Spanish American Mission back in about 1940, also served as Mission President in Chile. We loved Chile and its members!
(Submitted by Sister Rae Olsen, wife of President Eugene Foss Olsen.)