This is the third post in an on-going series about how the temple helps and blesses the lives of Latter-day Saints. Millennial Star contributor, Daniel O’s first two installments are here:
When the temple helps
When the temple helps, part 2
We invite readers of The Millennial Star to submit their experiences of how the temple has helped and blessed their lives. Please see the “Submit A Guest Post” tab on the top for more information.
This installment is by Millennial Star regular, Joyce Anderson.
This week I celebrated 20 years as an endowed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1995, I entered the temple to receive my endowment as preparation for a full time mission to Bulgaria. I had no idea really of what to expect, other that I would be making sacred and important covenants with my Father in Heaven, and that I was making a very important, and big step in my progress as a Latter-day Saint. I had looked forward to going to the temple for myself for many years, but I had really desired it from the time I was about 19 years old.
Late on a February afternoon, I entered the Mesa Temple with my mom to receive my own endowment. I remember wearing a pink floral dress and that I had chapped lips from being so nervous. The Matron of the temple came out to the recorder’s office and took me back to the women’s area to begin my temple instruction. The Matron introduced me to Sister Crandell, who was going to be with me that day. Years later, Sister Crandell was speaking at a Stake Conference for young single adults. After the meeting I went up to her to introduce myself. She, of course, did not remember me, but I remembered her. I thanked her for taking me that day and helping me as I went thru the temple for the first time. As we spoke there was pure joy in her face. She told me she was to glad I had come up and talked to her, because her time as a temple worker had been her favorite calling in the Church. It was a special moment, provided to both of us because of the temple.
Even though I had been taught about the temple and was excited to go, I really didn’t know exactly what would go on in the temple or what would happen to me there. Because of the very sacred nature of the temple, we don’t talk about it outside, which sadly leads to a lot of confusion and perhaps, misunderstanding. But, because I had faith in my Heavenly Father, His plan, and the fact that the temple is set up the way He wants it to be, I was willing to accept and experience the ceremonies, ordinances, and language of the temple with an open mind and heart. Of course there were things that were unfamiliar and different to me, that first time. Temple worship is very different than our weekly worship, but, again it comes back to faith and trusting that this was the way the Lord had set things up. I find that even now, after 20 years, there are still new things to learn in the temple, and I always walk away from my temple service uplifted and edified.
Approaching the temple with a willingness to learn and a willingness to accept the things we are taught there, is a step of faith, but because we go to the temple as an act faith, we can be, and are blessed with deep knowledge and understanding about the Plan of Salivation and the Atonement. We will not understand all that the temple has to offer the first or fiftieth time we go, but as we attend, worship and serve in the temple. We will be taught line upon line, and precept upon precept.
As I went through the temple that day, many years ago, I tried to soak up as much as I could, appreciate the beauty of this building I spent my whole life waiting to go into, and learn as much as I could. Participating in the endowment felt natural and good, like I was coming home. And I was home, because I was there in my Heavenly Father’s house, with my entire family.
The Celestial Room of the Mesa Temple is a very cheery, yellow room. As I walked thru the veil that first time, and came into the room, my mother was waiting there for me. As she extended her arms to receive me, the Holy Spirit witnessed and taught me that this is what heaven will be like – our family waiting to receive us and greet us. It solidified my belief in eternal families and the importance of turning our hearts to each other. The temple allows us to do that, for ourselves, and for the people whose work we do by proxy. We are literally building heaven when we attend the temple.
This last week, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Albuquerque Temple. We have to drive 2 hours to get there, and it takes quite a bit of planning with children in tow to attend the temple these days. But I love and appreciate that part of my life now. I don’t live 5 minutes away like I did growing up, so I really have to focus and plan for our temple trips. That has made my temple worship very meaningful and very special. When I go there, I really pay attention and want to learn as much as I can, to last me for the next few months, until we can come back. I have been quietly taught and ministered to by the Holy Spirit many times in the temple. These lessons have stayed with me for 20 years and are some of the most meaningful and treasured things I carry with me.
I have a testimony of the temple. I encourage everyone to go and go as much as you can. You’re helping those who have passed on receive the blessings of heaven, but also strengthening and fortifying yourself and your family against the trials and insanity of the world. If you struggle with the temple, no worries, our Heavenly Father understands that. Tell Him in prayer, ask for help and understanding. Approach Him in humility and with a willing heart, and He will show you the way, even if it is just a step at a time.