Alaskan Attending Inaugural Event for the Newest Bahá'í Temple in Chile

I am Evelyn Ayalhuq Taaku-Yéil Williams, Inupiat from Barrow, Alaska, and an adopted member to the Raven/GaanAxAdi (Mink) clan of Klawock, Alaska. I have been a Bahá’í for 42 years.

My visit to Santiago, Chile, in October 2016, was one of the milestones on my personal journey. Some of the other milestones include my trip to Israel in 1992 to attend the centenary celebration of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith; a 12-day Pilgrimage to Israel in 1996 with my then 10-year old son; evelyn and participating in the International Bahá’í Convention for the election of the Universal House of Justice, the Supreme Administrative Body of the Bahá’í Faith. My participation in these events gives me the opportunity to feel a part of the greater Bahá’í community. With the completion of the Bahá’í House of Worship on the Andes Mountains in Santiago, a dedication ceremony was opened to 5,000 Bahá’ís. It was a privilege to be in attendance.

This particular House of Worship (or Mashriqul-Adhkár—the Dawning Place of the mention of God) is the final continental Temple to be built at the request of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Siamak Hariri, of Toronto, Canada, was the architect of this temple, also known as The Temple of Light. His inspiration came from the book The Seven Valleys, authored by Bahá’u’lláh.

There are now eight continental temples, similar in shape and each have 9 entrances. There are temples in Chicago, Illinois; Sydney, Australia; Kampala, Uganda; Langenhain, Germany; New Delhi, India; Panama City, Panama; and in the Pacific on the Island of Samoa. The Houses of Worship are open to people of all Faiths for prayer, devotion and meditation. In the future these sites will include auxiliaries, such as hospitals, elderly care, and education for children, to name a few.

The funds for the architecture and construction come from donations from Bahá’ís only. Donations are not accepted from anyone outside the Faith, nor are they paid for by grants.

Santiago has a population of 7 million people. Chile’s national language is Spanish and I do not speak it. evelyn Most people there did not know the English language and it was difficult to communicate. One of the principles of the Faith is that the leaders of the world select one universal language that everyone learns so that we can communicate with people wherever we go, and maintain our native language.

There was occasion to teach the Bahá’í Faith during this time. As the Faith doesn’t have clergy, each of us is encouraged to teach. Small prayer books had been published, by the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, for us to share with the local people. We engaged in conversations about the Bahá’í Faith, why we were there, invited the local population to come and visit the Temple, and we gifted them the prayer books, explaining that everyone and their families were welcome to come for prayer, meditation and devotions at the Temple. For some of us who did not speak Spanish, it was hard to communicate why we were there and what we were inviting them to. They would be surprised the booklets were in Spanish.

I arrived in Santiago four days before the dedication/opening of the Temple. A few days before the opening I was fortunate to witness an award ceremony for Dr. Farzam Arbab, the developer of the Ruhi educational system, by the University in Santiago for his work. The world over, our communities are engaged in this educational system known as the Ruhi Institute. The Ruhi sequence of courses is an educational system aimed at fostering personal growth and transformation for people of all ages— from the very young to elders. Weaved into it are service projects, arts, music, and study. Both Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís are engaged in this work of community building, helping neighborhoods to be safer, and offering junior youth groups and children’s classes to raise the consciousness of young people to serve humanity.

“God is the helper of those souls whose aim is to serve humanity and whose efforts and endeavors are devoted to the good and betterment of all mankind.” Bahá’u’lláh