At the end of the Sunday evening session of general conference, President Nelson announced the building of 12 new temples throughout the world.

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints, temples are a sacred place where ordinances are performed and covenants are made according to Newsroom. Many members of the Church throughout the world don’t have temples near them, which can make obtaining these ordinances difficult.

“Building and maintaining temples may not change your life, but spending your time in the temple surely will,” said President Russel M. Nelson after the announcement of the construction of new temples. However, for many Saints, the building of temples in their home countries can be a life-altering blessing.

Laura James, a freshman from New Zealand majoring in general studies, said although she wasn’t able to watch the Sunday afternoon session live, when she heard the announcement about a temple being built in Auckland, she was overcome with emotion.

“Four separate people texted me all at once, congratulating me with the news,” she said. “I was so excited to hear that Auckland is being blessed with a temple and honestly was not expecting it at all. Although I am not there, the happiness I feel for the members in the Auckland and surrounding Pacific area is indescribable.”

For many Saints in New Zealand, the building of the Auckland temple will allow the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to access the temple ordinances more frequently. James said many Saints in surrounding islands save up money their entire lives just to attend the temple to be sealed to their families.

“It seems so unfair that we can walk for less than five minutes and be at a house of God,” James said. “We need to fully understand what a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many temples and make it a priority to visit them as often as possible.”

James said her testimony of temple ordinances has become much greater than it was before. “I think I fully grasp the importance of these sacred ordinances,” she said. “Why else would they provide New Zealand with this second beautiful temple? I hope that each worthy member will make it a priority to visit the temple, as often as their schedule allows.”

Auckland, New Zealand, will be one of the new temple locations along with Mendoza, Argentina, Salvador, Brazil, Yuba City, California, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Praia, Cape Verde, Yigo, Guam, Puebla, Mexico, Auckland, New Zealand, Lagos, Nigeria, Davao, Philippines, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Washington County, Utah.

“Serving a mission in Puerto Rico opened my eyes to the privilege it is to have temple covenants,” said Ashli Brooks, a sophomore studying dance. “I never realized the sacrifice that others have to make to attend the temple, and sometimes they are only able to go once in their lives.” Brooks said participating in such ordinances has increased her testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Brooks was overcome with joy when she heard the news about the temple being built in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Excitement, love, and gratitude filled me,” Brooks said. “I thought of my Puerto Rican brothers and sisters and how hard they have worked to receive this blessing! It was the same kind of joy I felt while watching someone I love be baptized, knowing the outpouring of blessings they will receive,” Brooks said.

Brooks still keeps in contact with the people she served in Puerto Rico and said they are radiating with happiness and excitement. “The temple will restore hope to not only the Saints of Puerto Rico but the whole island,” she said. “As they have the chance to more fully participate in the work of the Lord and stand in Holy Places, they will become steadfast in their faith. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will exponentially grow in Puerto Rico with the return of less-actives and new converts.”

Brooks said that many people take for granted the blessings the temple provides because it is so accessible to them.

“To more fully take advantage of temple blessings, I believe we need to think upon the blessings we have experienced from the temple,” she said. “Reflect on past experiences and put Heavenly Father first. Attending the temple isn’t a sacrifice of time, it’s an opportunity to participate in the Lord’s work.”