April 21, 2014
First of all, Happy Easter!! I hope you all had a lovely time hunting for eggs. And especially I hope you found all the hard-boiled ones! This was my first year without an egg hunt. [Hermana Beirdneau hid some eggs in the MTC for us to find] but don’t worry because I had a weekend that was far better. It might actually qualify for the best weekend in my mission. Mostly because of Saturday.
So. Tuesday was transfer meeting day. Hermana Finlayson and I found out we are both staying so we were just working a normal Tuesday. We were in a lesson with a member and looked down at the phone…..to see a missed call and voicemail from President Cusick. Now, President very rarely calls missionaries. Hardly ever. Unless there’s something wrong. My stomach dropped to the tips of my toes and I felt dizzy. Every bad thing I had ever done came into my head. I thought about my life and all my choices. President is notorious for changing things last-minute for transfers. “That’s it. One of us is leaving. We’re getting split up and we are not even going to be able to say goodbye,” I thought. We quickly ended the lesson and listened to the voicemail. “Hi this is President Cusick calling for Sisters Lewis and Finlayson. Give me a call back as soon as you can. Thank you.”
Yep. We’re done for.
We took a deep breath and called back. President said simply….
“I need you to discreetly call all the sisters in your zone and tell them to clear out their Saturday. You all are going to go volunteer at the Fort Lauderdale LDS Temple open house.” I might have squealed. Hermana Fin might have cried.
OH. MY. GOSH.
Is this real life?
We’re not getting transferred……we’re going to the TEMPLE!
We called the sisters and told them the news. There’s only 18 sisters total that get to go…no elders. And from then, it was like Saturday couldn’t come fast enough. We definitely had a few downs this week but nothing could get us down. We were going to the TEMPLE. You might as well have told us we were going to Disneyworld for a week. But we were even more excited than that.
And then….it came.
Sunday morning we got up and took great care to look “perfect” as President insisted. We met up with the other sisters and Sister Thompson and headed out on our trek.
The setup was incredible. Large white tents complete with chandeliers, a giant flat screen, and a strong AC unit in each. The church is pretty cool. There were 6 main tents constantly filling and emptying with 50-60 people in each group. A constant flow of people coming to see and experience the House of The Lord. They expected around 10,000 people that day. It was the last day so it was a busy day, all day on our feet, more tired than we expected. After running into some familiar faces–Elder Austin Taylor, sweet Dyan Hale, RM-Hermana Rodriguez–and eating some delish food, it was finally time. We got our own tour.
Sister Thompson and President Pritt (our area seventy’s wife and our stake president) started as our guides. We made our way up around the side of the temple to the ront. Butterflies in our stomachs, Disneyland status. As we turned the corner we heard, “hello sisters!” “Hi sisters!” “Oh we have a special group here!” Over and over again.
I looked up and saw the words:
“Holiness to The Lord. The House of The Lord.”
It was real. We were here.
We filed into the entrance and the door shut behind us. Utter peace. I didn’t realize how loud it was outside. How much noise there was in the world. I didn’t realize how much I had been yearning for the reverence and the spirit of the temple. But when at door closed, it shut out all the problems, distractions, and trials that were surrounding us. We were honestly in the house of The Lord. As we walked through each room, the Spirit seemed to grow stronger and stronger.
President Pritt warned us, “Don’t get trunky,” as we entered the bridal room. I would be lying if I said it didn’t catch my attention. A beautiful painting of Esther hung on the back wall and we each were drawn to the tri-fold mirror. One day.
Elder Thompson and Bishop Stevenson (our area seventy and the presiding bishop) joined us in the chapel. That was a surprise that caught us all off guard. We all moved through the rooms of instruction, each with more light and more beautiful than the previous. In the celestial room we all stopped. I couldn’t take my eyes off the chandelier. The Spirit was so strong. None of us could utter a word. We stayed there longer. Just looking, taking it all in, filling the absence of the temple we’ve had in our hearts. Sister Thompson, seeing the group behind us, whispered, “Sisters. It’s time.” But the tour director ahead of her whispered back, “It’s okay. Don’t rush them.” I have never been so grateful in my life. We stayed a few more precious moments in that beautiful room. I’m sure the group behind us was confused to see so many 20-something-aged girls just looking around and crying in this room. But we couldn’t help ourselves. A year without the temple is a long time.
We reluctantly moved on to the sealing room next to it. We all stood around the altar in the middle. Each of our guides shared something. President Pritt told of when he was sealed to his wife and daughter, and then when he was sealed to his own parents. Bishop Stevenson talked about how instead of focusing on the mirrors which represent the eternities, he focuses on the room which represents this life. And what we will do with our own “4 minutes”.
And then we were joined by the temple matron, Sister Boggess. She was the sweetest thing. She pleaded with us to live worthily to be able to come back to this room and be sealed to our husband. To remain strong in the gospel and work hard. She was standing directly across from me and looking me right in the eye, with tears in her own eyes. “Always live so you may receive the blessings of the temple in your life.” I felt like she was talking directly to me. We all stood a minute longer in that beautiful room. I looked in the mirror at the ongoing chandeliers and thought about how incredibly blessed and grateful I am to have my own family sealed for time and all eternity.
As we left, we shook Elder Thompson and Bishop Stevenson’s hands and introduced ourselves. The very second I stepped foot outside the temple, I missed it. It took all my self control to not run back in there and lay down on the couch in the celestial room and stay forever.
The temple is literally heaven on earth. It’s our Heavenly Father’s house. In that building resides a peace and happiness that simply cannot be felt anywhere else. And I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed it.
You all at home can go whenever you want, you’re not restricted by”boundaries” or “companions” or “rules” or anything.
So I have one thing to say.
Go to the temple you lucky ducks.
I love you all.