Thursday, 22 January 2015

I, Finally, Did It: I Went to the Temple

Early 2013, it was an interesting Sunday--a curious one indeed. I had just come to the realisation that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints existed and stumbled upon inklings of the Temple I’d soon come to haunt over… I had just met missionaries (of any sort) for the first time. I emphasise met, because it recently occurred to me that I had, in fact, seen missionaries once before - but that’s another story; one for another time.

Today’s story is more about the Temple, otherwise known as the House of the Lord, and my long waited journey to - finally - enter in. Yes, on the 10th of January 2015, this longwinded, overly analytical, secretly critical (okay, maybe not so much secretly, says my sister’s laughs; “Tell me another one,” she’d banter), research obsessed Latter-day Saint took his first steps into rooms otherwise restricted and felt the touch of the delicate holy garments for the first time. It was a morn to be remembered.

Let’s see, the day started out quite early - well, not really. I woke up at 05:00, jumped into the shower, suited up and waited for the missionaries to arrive at 06:00. I had scheduled for the nine o’clock session and needed to be in the Temple by 07:30 (and the Distribution Centre opened at 07:00). The plan was that I’d drive the three of us to the Temple to save on petrol (or gas, as the Americans call it), but for one reason or another they decided to follow in their car (something about the APs). Oh, and they weren’t allowed to give me a lift. Shrug. So I put the address for the Johannesburg South Africa Temple into the GPS and they (Elders Broadhead and Wegrowski) followed.

It took us down a route neither of us had been before and we arrived twenty three minutes later - as opposed to forty five minutes later, as expected. “Sometimes GPSs do come in handy,” I remarked, not realising the fatality to come (stay tuned).

And we were there. Myself… and the Elders, who were kind enough to escort me through the Temple my first time ‘round. See the minio-- I mean, men on the right.

We made our venture through the Temple grounds - with Elder Wegrowski’s continued comments on how small ‘twas - and took pictures along the way. I decided, since so many pictures of me existed (of which, I had practically none), to have the Elders take a couple of shots using my phone… I still don’t have any photos from that morning. The reason? Spoilers. Suffice to say, the Elders have pictures from that morning and I do not.

We went to the Distribution Centre as it opened and entered into the Temple earlier than arranged. I was greeted by a few Priesthood Holders and the Sister with whom I had made arrangements with. Don’t ask me about names-- that’s foreign territory. I remember their faces and our conversations, but names, now that’s something I’ve never been good at.

I gave Elder Broadhead his Escort tag, which I’m not entirely certain he wanted, but I wanted him there and he didn’t exactly say no; and, from there, we headed into my initiatories (a little early). My mind was blown. I sat there, as I waited, with the image before me of Moses giving blessings at an ancient Temple. Everything made sense.

“The Old Testament means something,” I said.

Elder Broadhead smiled. He and his companion were conversing over Utahan names with another American whose name eludes me now. They were well in their comfort zone, which was good, because my mind was racing. Everything I had read, everything I had studied, came pouring through. I saw, in my mind’s eye, the Tabernacle of Moses construct itself around us with the ancient prophets themselves walking through.

The awkward candid shot.
I think of the specifics, and how detailed they are, as the words echo through my mind once again. I felt the Spirit testify and truth resound. I felt the room fill as I moved along. One after the other, I was blown away.

Isaiah 62:2 was now mine - the meaning was clear and I felt new. As Meghan (a fellow YSA from my home ward) said, “It felt like Eragon. I finally have it.”

We went on to discuss other things which I cannot discuss, but I do remember - as it ended - Elder Broadhead taking the Doctrine & Covenants, showing me his favourite verse therein.

D&C 38:32 “Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high;”

Good verse. I also pointed out, “This isn’t Ohio.” and showed him my favourite.

D&C 95:8 “Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high;”

We moved to the Chapel where we went through hymns from a white hymn book and then read
scriptures as we waited. That was when Brother Farquharson came in. After some time I rose to greet Sister Farquharson. I was filled with glee. The only one missing was Dylan.

And then came the Endowment session. Never have I ever cried for a movie before, but this wasn’t just a movie. I felt touched by every word and questions I’d debated with missionaries, ones from other churches as well, were finally answered. EVERYTHING MADE SENSE. Everything fit in. My mind was whirling and my soul was soaring. I was blessed. I am blessed. I had the Farquharsons on my left and the missionaries on my right.

As I walked into the Celestial Room, I was greeted by Brother Farquharson (Kev) and Sister Farquharson (Shan). My soul was filled with so much joy. My spiritual family was there.

I won’t say much more, because it was a sacred, beautiful experience, but know that it has been on my mind every day (and night) since.

We went out onto Temple Grounds and began taking photos (as is tradition with Kev).

I’d just like to say, the Temple is a blessing. It has opened my eyes to so much more - and I know that there is still so much more to learn. Granted, I now know all the doctrines of the Church and it’s phenomenal. I could never have expected this, through all the Anti-Mormon research, from that heart-wrenching, sickening video of the Temple I saw mere moments after discovering the Church, and in all my scepticism, heard-heartedness, critique and stubbornness.

I’ve come a long way. Brave young men taught me in all my defences, but persisted, as did the Spirit. I can honestly and truly say that the Gospel has changed my life. I’m not the same as I was before, and I won’t be the same today as I am tomorrow, and how beautiful it is that it is so. How beautiful is it that persons can grow and progress.

And, when I think about it, the Temple is one of the main reasons I’ve continued. I could have stopped seeing the missionaries. I could have stopped reading the Book of Mormon. I could’ve stopped asking questions and doing research. Especially since I was convinced that it wasn’t true, or rather, not of God. But I didn’t. I wanted to know more. No, I needed to know more. Because, deep down, I knew the things I read about the Temple weren’t true. I knew that something was inside there and I needed to find it. The missionaries were quiet – they didn’t say a word. The journey was mine. And now I can say, I’ve found it. I know what’s inside the Temple and the answer is truth. The answer is God. The answer is purpose. The answer is meaning.

It is exactly as Sister Shan said, “No other Church answers the questions ‘Where do I come from?’, ‘Why am I here?’, and ‘Where do I go after?’ as well as the restored gospel.” In fact, no other Church comes close.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is God’s Church once again established on the earth. Joseph Smith did a mighty work in bringing it back as God’s chosen Prophet. God loves us. And He has given us Temples. Let us keep our eyes set on them. For they truly are the House of the Lord.

“How far is Heaven? Not very far. In the House of the Lord, it is right where you are.”

I'm still a new-blood, of a year and roughly a month, so there's still much to learn, much to understand-- questions eating away. I'll be patient, I'll be diligent, but I still need help. I'll be zealous at times and confused at others. I need to be tried, reproofed and corrected. I am a convert-- and mainstream Christianity is not nearly the same as restorative Christianity, much less Mormonism. Even though, my sights are set; the Spirit is my compass and the Temple is my North.


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    1. Good morning Anonymous,

      Thank you for commenting on my blog. May I suggest http://www. mormon .org/faq/use-of-temples and https://www. lds .org/church/temples?lang=eng to continue your research? (remove the spaces)
      Also, when posting links in a comment, it is important to put spaces - else the entire link is removed (Blogger conditions). Would you mind sending it again (with spaces between the dots)? I'm interested to learn more of this mission you have going.

  2. Brilliant blog man, really enjoyed it.

    Your testimony is a huge inspiration to me, you have no idea.