To celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary we decided to go to 24 different temples in 12 months. Goal achieved!! We went to our first temple (Jordan River) on November 10, 2018 and Saturday, November 9, 2019, we hit our 24th (Payson). It has been an absolutely fabulous experience that has taken us to temples in UT, ID, NV, WY, and CO.
Reflecting on our experience, I decided the Star Valley Wyoming and the Manti Utah temples were my favorites. The Manti temple is elegant and exquisite; the love invested by its pioneer builders seemed to radiate from its walls and in its halls. And the salt-of-the-earth, pioneer stock temple workers were an incarnate extension of that love. We felt so welcome there.
We did baptisms in the Star Valley Temple. The baptistery is on the ground floor and is graced by large, east facing windows. The morning we did baptisms the sun’s light poured through those windows and the whole room seemed to glow. We were warmed by the sun, the Spirit, and the friendliness of the temple workers. Similar to our experience in the Manti temple, the Star Valley Temple workers were completely, thoroughly, genuinely, and absolutely welcoming and loving. They made going to the temple feel like coming home.
Before sharing my thoughts, I asked Lance which were his favorite temples. He chose the Manti and Star Valley temples too.
Though we have our favorites, every temple experience was good. We loved doing sealings with Marjorie and Jason in Las Vegas. Being in the Logan Temple with President and Sister Sorenson was a special treat (better than beating them at Wizard afterwards but only slightly...) Watching Hamilton and Allie be sealed in the Meridian Temple was a highlight. Knowing that our Noel relatives played a large role in the decision to turn the Vernal Tabernacle into a temple made our visit to that temple especially meaningful. Being with Grace in the Ogden Temple when she went through the temple for the first time was scrumptious icing on the proverbial cake.
Life is the stories you can tell and, of course, we lived some temple stories. We loved eating at an Ethiopian restaurant after doing sealings in the Denver Temple however the best part, by far, of our trip to Colorado was the weekend we spent with Jeff and Letha Mellman and Company. Such good, GOOD people! And so fun!!! They have three vigorous young boys. The boys wanted to go swimming at the local rec center but their swimming suits were in their room where Lance was taking a nap. “Don’t worry about waking him up,” I told them. “You could jump on him and it would not wake him up.” So they did. Jump on him.
We visited the Rexburg Temple just 2 weeks after my second knee replacement. It was not until we started to enter the sealing room that I realized I would not be able to kneel at the altar. I was walking fine but my new knee was several weeks away from kneeling. YIKES!!! What to do? It was there we learned a chair can be placed by the altar so that elderly people (and not as elderly people who have recently had knee surgery) can sit, rather than kneel, for the seal.
On our trip south the van broke down in Cedar (and St. George and Las Vegas and Payson….). We went to the Cedar City Temple while it was being repaired there. We could not drive the van to the temple—-it was 6 feet in the air on a lift in the repair shop--so we hired a taxi. (Eight dollars to ride from downtown Cedar City to the temple, in case you are wondering.) When we came out of the temple, I called a taxi to come get us while Lance solicited a ride from two attractive young women. I cancelled the taxi. The really fun part of the story is that the young ladies were friends of our friends, Heidi and Quin Johnson and Darin and Deletha Heaton. Small world, right?
Visiting the temples has made our world smaller...and larger. Smaller in that we it brought us closer. Shared spiritual experience have strengthened our connections and minimized the things that tend to separate us. Larger in that our temple adventures have expanded our horizons and increased our cache of shared stories. More significant than making our world smaller and larger, though, is the fact that visiting temples together had made our world better.
President Gordon B. Hinkley said “Every time you come to the temple, you will be a better man or woman when you leave than you were when you came. I believe that with all my heart. Redouble your efforts and your faithfulness in going to the temple … and the Lord will bless you, and you will be happier” (regional conference, Oahu, Hawaii, 23 Jan. 2000).
The Lord has blessed us. And we are happier.
Happy Anniversary my sweet Lance! I am excited for what the next 24 years bring.