Temple Experiences from Italy
Growing up I always knew that the temple was an important and sacred place. Living in Virginia, the nearest temple was in Washington D.C., which on a good day with little traffic was at least a 3 hour drive (one way), on a bad day it was more like 5 hours or more. I have to be honest that my temple attendance before my mission was sporadic at best. To me it was just too far away and too much of a sacrifice to go on a regular basis, or go at all sometimes.
Oddly enough it was on my mission in Italy, a country without a temple (the closest one is in Bern, Switzerland), that I really learned to appreciate the temple and understand how important it is. The Italian people served as an amazing example to me. Their faith and diligence in attending the temple showed me that no matter the sacrifice, the reward of serving the Lord in His house is worth it. Some members would travel up to 18 hours one way to spend a period of time at the temple. Some would even take a flight to England because in some instances it was cheaper and less time consuming than driving to Switzerland. Once at the temple, the Italian people would try to maximize their time there. They would often stay for 3 or 4 days. They would serve, seek inspiration, and genuinely enjoy their time in this refuge from “the world”. I could always tell when members of the church had just returned from being at the temple. I could see how rejuvenated looked and feel the strength of their spirit.
This was astounding to me! Comparatively I had grown up with a temple “in my back yard” and had not taken advantage of it like I should have.
The members in Italy sacrificed, prayed for, and deeply desired a temple inside their own country. In so many ways having a temple is such a strength to the local members. It galvanizes the people. It is a tangible display of their faith and hard work. Shortly after I left Italy, the Italian people were blessed with the announcement that a temple would be constructed on a patch of land on the outskirts of the city of Rome. Friends I had in Italy told me that this was a day that they would never forget. They told me that when they heard the announcement there was a cheer that erupted from the members that made the chapel resembled more of a soccer stadium than a church building!
After leaving Italy I was determined not to forget the lessons the Italian people taught me about the importance of going to the temple. No matter how big the sacrifice may seem the reward is always greater! And we can be blessed to find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.
Temple Experiences from Switzerland
I love the temple. It is by far my favorite place on earth, and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities and experiences I have had in my life in connection to the temple. I have had experiences that not everyone gets to experience. When I was 12 my dad took the family with him to Mexico while he helped build a temple. I was able to see the construction of a temple, and all the miracles associated along with that. It was an amazing experience. Then when I got home from the mission, I was able to volunteer as a temple worker for a few months. It was awesome! I love the temple. I have had some of my most sacred experiences in the temple. It truly is the House of the Lord; a heaven on earth. The Spirit is stronger in no other place on earth. I love the temple.
On my mission, I never had the opportunity to take a family to the temple to get sealed, which is the ultimate goal of a missionary (so I would think. Baptism is a great step! However, the gospel is about uniting families for eternity). The work was slow in Switzerland, and in the majority of my areas I saw 0 baptisms, and very little other “successes.” So, numbers wise, my mission wasn’t extremely successful. I loved the mission, and I worked my hardest every day I was there and the lessons I learned made it all worth it, and in my opinion it was the biggest success of my life; although it would have been nice to have gotten a few successes on the numbers side as well.
Like I mentioned before, when I got home from the mission I was able to volunteer as a temple worker for a few months; and there was an experience I had as a temple worker that connected my mission experience with the temple. In the temple we do proxy ordinances for the deceased, so EVERYONE can have the opportunity to receive all the ordinances of the gospel necessary to receive eternal life. If the idea of proxy work seems different to you, then just think of the Savior standing proxy for yourself as he suffered for your sins. He performed something that we could not do for ourselves. It’s the same idea in the temple, the deceased, although their spirit lives on, cannot perform the ordinances themselves if they never had the opportunity while in this life. These ordinances are done in the temple, or House of the Lord. (If you have any more questions about this, please visit Mormon.org, or leave a comment here, and we’ll do our best to respond to it. Also read 1st Corinthians chapter 15)
While working at the temple one Tuesday night, I was helping some sisters during the endowment session and one sister came to me with the name of the deceased sister she was doing the ordinance for, and I noticed that the deceased sister had lived in one of the cities I served in on my mission. It was a great feeling to know that I was helping people from my mission, although I was no longer in the mission field. I could still help them, and others, receive the ordinances necessary. And although I never spoke with those people, for whom the temple work was being done that day, I still felt a great connection to them.
The temple makes it possible for us to do missionary work for those who are deceased. We become as it says in Isaiah, “Saviors on mount Zion” as we do the temple work for those who cannot perform it themselves.
Temple Experiences from Guatemala
The greatest experience a missionary could have would be to see one of his converts go to the temple with their family and be sealed for all time and eternity. This was particularly difficult for me in my mission because the temple was 15 hours away. However, I was able to see many go on to the temple and serve missions. I never really recognized the importance of the temple until I was so far away from it. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts and the closest temple to me was the Washington D.C temple until the year 2000 when they erected the Boston temple in Belmont. Both temples weren’t really that far away. Although I was only able to go about 5 times prior to leaving on a mission I was aware of the difference I felt in such a holy place. On a mission, one would expect to live a higher quality of life and not really need that segregation from the world that the temple brings. Oh how wrong I was. I went approximately 18 months without going to the temple. It was just too far for me to go to on a P-day and we didn’t have the permission. I started to long for the temple because I had forgotten what that feeling was like. I guess I never really appreciated the blessing of having a temple so close. At around 18 months I was able to go to the temple because of a meeting my companion and I had to attend with the mission president and other missionaries. The spiritual experience was phenomenal! I remember feeling so good and so accomplished. The covenants and level of spirituality are so sacred there that ever since I have made it a goal to go twice a month. I exhort all to work hard to get to the temple. There are always obstacles that prevent us. Whether it be 15 hours of distance, personal unworthiness, or financial stability I know that if we make going to the temple a priority we will be able to feel a constant flow of confidence in the eyes of the Lord.