Testimonies of the Temple
As I focused more on my time inside the temple, I came to some realizations. I realized that my struggle with temptation came not because of the temple but because I’d been neglecting parts of my spiritual life. I believe Heavenly Father prompted me to serve as a temple worker in order to strengthen and prepare me so that I wouldn’t fall.
Working in the temple was like a spiritual resurrection. As I learned all the ordinances by memory, concepts that had seemed old and stale became new and beautiful. Pure doctrine stood out clearer than ever. I would leave the temple with a deeper understanding of Christ’s gospel and His Church. I was filled with strength and determination to choose the right.
Stella understood as well as any three-year-old would, and we urged her to touch the temple. We took several pictures of Stella and her three-month-old brother touching the temple.
When it was time to leave, Stella was especially reluctant to go. We thought we understood why; she was having a great time in a beautiful setting and was undoubtedly feeling the same spirit we were.
After getting her in the car and buckled up, we began to leave. I turned around, waved, and said to Stella, “Say bye-bye, temple.” She looked at the temple, waved, and said, “Bye-bye, temple. Bye-bye, Grandpa.” I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly, but when I turned to Callie and saw her eyes fill with tears, I knew we had both heard the same thing.
Stella’s grandfather—my husband, Tim—had passed away four years before Stella was born. She certainly had seen pictures of him and heard the family talk about him, but he hadn’t come up in our conversations that day.
When Tim passed away, we had only one grandchild. Now we have 12, and whenever I hold one of those precious new babies who so recently left our Heavenly Father’s presence, I want to ask, “Did you get to meet your grandpa? What words of advice did he send you off with?”
My testimony of the sacredness of temples was strengthened that day.
I had seen the name of my great-great-grandfather listed on my pedigree chart for years. All I knew was that he had served in the American Civil War and died shortly after my great-grandfather was born. Since he had the common name of William Johnson, I thought it would be nearly impossible to find out much more about him, but I was wrong.
One evening while I was enjoying the peaceful spirit of the temple, his name suddenly popped into my mind. I knew without a doubt that he wanted me to have his temple work done. That was the beginning of the sweet experience of finding William.
…Over the next several years, William’s story started to unfold. One of my cousins contacted me and shared a copy of William’s Civil War record, complete with his age, the state and county where he was born, his physical description, and his service record. Shortly after that, I found a book chronicling his regiment’s experience in the Civil War, including a record of when he was injured. I was moved to tears when I compared his record with the regiment’s story and began to understand a little of what he had endured. I also felt William’s delight at being remembered.
Along the way we have found census records showing him with his parents and siblings, brief stories about his family in a county history where they lived, and photos of his parents’ gravestones, along with his mother’s obituary, at Findagrave.com. As each new piece of information is found, we take family names to the temple to have their temple work done, and we often feel their joy at being able to progress and be reunited with their loved ones.
Finding William has helped me to understand myself better by deepening my love and appreciation for those who came before me.
Following the stake president’s counsel, El began every indexing session with prayer and tried to see the names on the screen as members of a family. “It became a very emotional project for me, filled with sacred experiences.
“One morning I started indexing a batch. After I had entered everything in the computer and was getting ready to hit the submit button, I heard very clearly the voice of a young girl, who said, ‘I am not a son.’ It was a 13-year-old girl named Ellen, whom I had marked as a son instead of a daughter. I’m sure that Ellen will thank me someday for correcting that mistake. I have a testimony of how actively inspired this work is from beyond the veil.”
Since the beginning, she’s felt divine approbation as the Spirit has guided her to specific places and individuals. “When the Spirit guides, we go and the most amazing things happen,” she said.
For example, she recalled going for a walk in Bountiful, Utah, on one of her many fact-finding trips to the United States and getting lost. She approached a woman on the street to ask for directions and the woman, noticing the Kiwi accent, asked where she was from and why she was in Utah. After Rangi Parker explained that she was collecting the histories of missionaries that had served in New Zealand, the woman said, “My great-grandfather served in New Zealand, and we have all this information at our house. Would you like to come and see?”
“That happened so many times,” Rangi Parker said. “I’ve learned over the years to listen to the Spirit.”
Tsopher Kabambi, All In:
And the third time, I saw my uncle in my dreams. My uncle died many years ago, he told me “Tshoper, please, I give you a mission. You have to be baptized for save our lives.” I can’t understand what that means. And I go to one of the brothers to ask him what this dream means. And he called some elders and him, they explained to me that if you are baptized, you can be baptized for your ancestors. And that means a lot of things for me. It’s why I decided to stay in the church.
Several days before our ward was scheduled to travel to the Aba Nigeria Temple, the bishop called and asked me to lead our group. I agreed, and on the morning of our trip, we offered a prayer and boarded a bus to begin our journey.
On our way, we sang hymns. Joy beyond measure filled the air. We were making good time on our 10-hour journey, but just before noon, our bus developed a problem none of us could fix.
I ran to a nearby petrol station and found an attendant. I asked if she could direct me to a mechanic.
Without delay, she called two mechanics. They soon arrived and got to work. They discovered that the fan belt was defective. They worked for hours until they had exhausted all their knowledge.
…I called the group together. We stood in a circle and prayed to our Heavenly Father to give the mechanics the knowledge they lacked. In less than five minutes, one of the mechanics came to see me.
“We have done it!” he said, beaming.
We rejoiced and thanked the Lord. I soon noticed that the other mechanic looked discouraged. I tried to congratulate him, but he said, “Are you congratulating me for taking six hours to fix one fan belt? I fixed two fan belts before I came here. What happened here is beyond explanation.”
I told him God had intervened following our prayer.
One summer, my family and I had the opportunity to visit the city in Japan where my ancestors came from. In search of family records, we went to the courthouse and library and even visited cemeteries around the area but could not find any information about them. My husband and I were very disappointed since we had come all the way from America.
I asked my husband to take me home. It was getting late, and the sun was just going down. What occurred next was the beginning of a miracle.When we left the cemetery, we headed for the freeway to return to my parents’ home, but traffic hindered us from entering it. My husband got frustrated and decided to take a different route. As he made several right turns, we came upon a cemetery we had not previously visited.
My husband asked whether I wanted to stop. I suggested that he just go slow enough for us to see the tombstone names. As we were passing, I saw my grandmother’s surname on a tombstone. I quickly asked him to stop the car. As we got out, I was stunned to see my grandmother’s family name on each stone. Some of them were very new and easy to read; some were covered by moss and dark spots so that I couldn’t read the names. On the side of each marker, all the information about their children was given: birth date, death date, marriage date, spouse’s name.
Since my husband and children couldn’t read Japanese, I had to do all the writing. My family would go ahead of me and wash off the tombstones. Some of them were covered by tall grass which we cut down to find lovely tombstones that nobody had been taking care of. As I began copying the names, I felt that truly we had been guided to this place. We had met with discouragement and disappointment on our trip. Yet I somehow felt like the people who were waiting for us to do their temple work had led us to this cemetery in Japan so that their ordinances could be performed in sacred temples.
Chad Hawkins, LDS Living:
Bishop Ballard’s young daughter explained that she had been playing on the sidewalk when two strangers handed her the paper and gave strict instructions that she deliver it to no one except her father. Upon inspection, Bishop Ballard found the newspaper to contain a story with the names of 60 people and their accompanying dates of birth and death. The next day, Bishop Ballard sought an explanation from Temple President Marriner W. Merrill. After listening to the bishop’s story, President Merrill said, “Brother Ballard, someone on the other side is anxious for their work to be done and they knew that you would do it if this paper got into your hands.” Bishop Ballard made certain the temple work was complete, and later it was learned that most of the people named in the newspaper were related to the Ballard family.
By this point, we were running out of money. I shared my concerns with my wife, who ﬁrmly replied, “Even if we have to arrive by foot or on the back of a donkey, we’re going to make it.” Her reply made me happy. I wasn’t unsettled about money for the rest of the trip because our confidence was placed in our faith.
As we talked, an old lady walked toward us. She stopped in front of my wife and said, “Young lady, wouldn’t you like two tickets for today?” My wife practically ripped the tickets out of her hand. I paid the old woman, and she vanished among the crowd. It took us a few seconds to realize that the Lord and His angels were still by our side.
When we finally arrived at the São Paulo Temple thanks to one last ride from a friend we made on the train, the temple lodging was closed. Resigned but happy, we made ourselves comfortable on a couple of benches outside the temple. There it was, just as beautiful as we had dreamed it would be. It was now midnight, and we cried as we hugged, tired and wet from the falling rain. We didn’t feel the dampness, the hunger, or the cold, just an indescribable sense of happiness for being so close to the house of the Lord. We had been obedient, and there was our reward.
While we were basking in that moment, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was one of my former mission companions, who had been sealed in the temple that day and was returning from dinner with his wife. He let us stay in their apartment that night, and the next day he was a witness to our sealing, performed by the temple president himself. How beautiful it was to see my wife in the celestial room, all dressed in white.
By the time I was 19, I had stopped going to church.
As I walked through each room of the temple, I felt God’s presence. I felt at peace. Visiting the temple gave me the desire to come back to the Church and to live the gospel again. When I realized I could take part in God’s great work, I wanted to complete temple work for my ancestors and to exercise the priesthood.
My experience in the temple that day changed me.
Brother Smith with his wife, Josephina, lived on a few acres of ground in Brigham City. There they raised fourteen children, my wife’s father being the youngest. When the call came for workers to assist in the building of the temple, he responded.
One night, some years after the completion of the temple, Brother Smith was reading his newspaper. He heard a noise at the window, and he saw his Indian friend peering in with an unusually sad expression. He went to the door and found no one there, and the snow beneath the window had not been disturbed.
This incident bothered him greatly, and during the following week he tried to locate and get some information about this Indian friend. He learned that he had died.
In due time, he recorded, “Today I have taken care of his work in the temple.” That very evening he was looking through the mail and again heard a sound at the window. When he looked up he saw his Indian friend, this time smiling. He counted that a very sacred experience, and in the record of a great amount of work done by this faithful grandfather in this temple is found the name Be-a-go-tia.
When they joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my friend and her husband joyfully learned family relationships need not be “until death do you part.” In the house of the Lord, families can be united eternally (sealed).
But my friend did not want to be sealed to her father. “He was not a nice husband to my mother. He was not a nice dad to his children,” she said. “My dad will have to wait. I do not have any desire to do his temple work and be sealed with him in eternity.”
For a year, she fasted, prayed, spoke a lot with the Lord about her father. Finally, she was ready. Her father’s temple work was completed. Later, she said, “In my sleep my dad appeared to me in a dream, all dressed in white. He had changed. He said, ‘Look at me. I am all clean. Thank you for doing the work for me in the temple.’” Her father added, “Get up and go back to the temple; your brother is waiting to be baptized.”
My friend says, “My ancestors and those that have passed on are eagerly waiting for their work to be done.”
“As for me,” she says, “the temple is a place of healing, learning, and acknowledging the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Second experience. Another friend researched diligently his family history. He wanted to identify his great-grandfather
Early one morning, my friend said he felt the spiritual presence of a man in his room. The man wanted to be found and known in his family. The man felt remorse for a mistake for which he had now repented. The man helped my friend realize that my friend had no DNA connection with the person my friend thought was his great-grandfather. “In other words,” my friend said, “I had discovered my great-grandfather and learned he was not the person our family records said was our great-grandfather.”
His family relationships clarified, my friend said, “I feel free, at peace. It makes all the difference to know who my family are.” My friend muses, “A bent branch does not mean a bad tree. How we come into this world is less important than who we are when we leave it.”
There have been many visitations to the temple. President Lorenzo Snow saw the Savior there. Most of these sacred experiences remain unpublished
I stepped around the corner and called the family out of the sealing room. Betty, her daughter, and her son-in-law joined us. Rod greeted Betty with a hug, thanked her for coming, and then introduced me to her. Rod said, “Betty, this is Elder Renlund. He was the doctor who took care of your son’s heart for so many years.” She crossed the room and embraced me. And for the next several minutes, there were hugs and tears of joy all around.
After we regained our composure, we moved into the sealing room, where Rod and Kim were sealed for time and all eternity. Rod, Kim, Betty, and I can testify that heaven was very close, that there were others with us that day who had previously passed through the veil of mortality.