“The Santo Domingo Temple: A Divine Place with a Divine Garden”
Elder Darrel L. Hammon
We just arrived home from attending the Santo Domingo Temple. We went last Thursday for the first time, and tonight makes twice. Each time the session has been small but wonderful. In both sessions are people who speak Spanish and English. A young couple from Antigua has been in both sessions. They speak English only. They have been going every day since we saw them last week. They are doing family names.
Dedicated in September 2000, the Santo Domingo Temple sits stoically on a little hill off Avenida Bolivar, a very busy street, running one-way, east to west and next to a beautiful little park that used to be the zoo. Joanne and I drove to the park the other morning and walked around. It has become a walking ground for lots of people who live close, including senior missionaries who live on the temple grounds in housing called “La Casa.” This bank of buildings also houses the Area Presidency; a small store where you can buy garments, temple clothes, and church publications; and the missionary training center.
The Santo Domingo Temple is, according to Joanne, a “pinkish, creamish brown,” with pillars marking the walkway to the front door of the temple. The temple is tall and sits majestically on high ground, truly sacred ground. On Sunday after church, we walked around the temple and just took in the awesome spirit that surrounds it. The sun hid behind clouds on Sunday, and the temple took on even a warmer hue than before. A few drops of rain pinged the ground and disappeared instantly. The walkway around the temple allows visitors to take in the entire, incredible structure as they stroll through various types of green trees and other foliage. From the temple grounds, you can see the ocean, just a few blocks to the south.
One of the most impressive elements of the Santo Domingo Temple is the temple gardens. They are incredibly beautiful! One of the Dominicans who is not a member and whom we met while waiting for the plane in Miami said, “Your temple grounds are beautiful!” She was very impressed. Strategically placed throughout the temple gardens are various types of palm trees—some large, some small, some that fan way out with berries, and others that are regular-looking palm trees—and a medley of other bushes, trees, and ornamental flowers that emanate fragrant whiffs of wonderful smells. The grass is trimmed extremely short and appears as if you could hit a golf ball from anywhere.
In a Facebook note, Daniel, my nephew who spent time at the CCM (a.k.a. “MTC”), asked about the green parrots on the temple grounds. We saw the parrots last week, winging their way somewhere and listened to them squawk their way across the grounds and then behind the CCM. Someday, I am sure, we will be able to see them up close.
Overall, Santo Domingo Temple in the Dominican Republic is one of those rare buildings of beauty and pureness, a building that rises from the clanking sounds of cars, honking horns, a cacophony of big city noises and depresses those sounds with its soft, lilting spiritual cadences that hover over the entire temple complex. Truly, if you want to get away from the city noises, drive onto the grounds, park near one of the palm trees, climb out of your car, and just saunter through the gardens, taking in the majestic beauty of this Caribbean temple call the Santo Domingo Temple, a divine place with a divine garden.