This afternoon I had the privilege of attending, with my wife, the dedicatory services of The Gila Valley Temple at our local stake center.
As we approached the meetinghouse, a special spirit washed over me as I presented my temple recommend and passed through the doors into the stake center, which was now an extension of the Lord’s Holy House.
Adorning the walls, easels, and tables were pictures of the Savior, various Latter-Day temples, and beautiful flower arrangements. The Spirit of the Lord was palpable as we walked to our seats. A quiet reverence permeated the chapel and adjoining overflow area.
The dedicatory service began with a special welcome to the Arizona Saints by President Eyring, followed by a beautiful hymn of the Restoration, which was then followed by a sweet and simple prayer of testimony and faith.
As the choir sang that first hymn, my heart melted and my previously steady frame faltered as tears streamed down my cheeks. Although small in numbers, the choir’s voices echoed with faith and devotion, aided, as it were, by an unseen choir of angels from beyond this mortal veil.
With each talk given and special musical number sung, the Spirit of the Lord built to an ever-powerful crescendo. Each speaker bore simple, yet powerful testimonies of temples and temple work. As one of the counselors in the temple presidency spoke of seeing the countenances of those who attended the open house change as they entered and then exited the Celestial room, a phrase came into my mind, “We desire all to receive it [the blessings of the temple].”
President Eyring spoke of the spirit of Heaven that dwells in each temple, that same spirit that we will feel as we leave this mortal realm and return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. He remarked of feeling as if he had already been in the Salt Lake Temple prior to receiving his endowments. After receiving his temple blessings, he said he realized it was the feeling of being home that he felt.
President Monson concluded with his remarks and stories of serving with President Kimball, who hails from the Gila Valley. He spoke of a family in Tonga who sacrificed much to attend the temple in New Zealand so they could be an eternal family. Additionally, he shared the story of a couple who live behind the Iron Curtain and longed for the blessings of the temple, adoring their home with as many as 14 pictures of various temples. That same brother would later serve as a president of the temple in Freiburg.
The dedicatory prayer was simple and sweet. President Monson pronounced most of that prayer from memory, glancing only occasionally at a copy of the text.
Elder Holland then led the congregation in the sacred Hosanna Shout. The choir then sang Brother Evan Stephen’s ‘Hosanna Anthem,’ which was followed by the choir and congregation singing ‘The Spirit of God.’
After the benediction was offered, we quietly filed out of the stake center, returning to our homes with the hopes of following the counsel given in the dedicatory service, and turning our hearts and minds toward the House of the Lord.