This is one of my favorite children’s hymns, and has been since I was a child in Primary at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can barely sing it without becoming emotional, and I certainly can’t hear a choir of children sing it without tears falling like a waterfall down my cheeks.
To me, the temple is the house of God. It is the holiest place on earth. I know this with all of my heart, and it isn’t just because someone told me so. But before I explain my feelings, perhaps you might like to learn more about LDS temples. Please watch these brief, beautiful videos below.
I could feel that there was something special about the temple when I was a little girl singing “I Love to See the Temple.” I could feel it even more when I went on a trip with fellow teenage girls and our leaders the weekend I turned 12 to the Washington, DC Temple. I got to stand in front of that magnificent structure, wearing a borrowed wedding dress, smiling at the thought of my future.
I remember my first time entering the Washington, DC temple. I was 12, and it was my first trip with the youth to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead. I can still smell the chlorine from the font. I remember looking down at my white-socked feet, fingering my white jump suit, waiting in silence on the benches, while staring at that beautiful font filled with blue water, standing on the strong backs of 12 oxen. I remember the man in the white suit who spoke us and told us the significance of what we were going to do. I remember feeling the comforting and peaceful presence of the Holy Ghost as I went under the water over and over for those who have gone before, and again as I sat in a chair which strong hands on my wet head, blessing me with the gift of the Holy Ghost on behalf of those who had been waiting for His companionship for many years.
The DC Temple Visitors Center has always been a special place for me. As a youth, I remember opening a large book with pictures of all the operating temples. Each one was absolutely beautiful in its own way. My favorite at the time was the San Diego Temple. I still haven’t been there, but I hope to visit someday. It amazes me how there are so many more temples now than there were when I was a teenager.
I spoke in church when I was 17 about the temple, and I knew as I spoke that the temple really was a holy place, and that I wanted to make my own covenants there and be sealed in the temple to a worthy husband for time and all eternity. As a youth, I was taught the important of staying morally clean, and being the type of person I needed to be to be worthy of a righteous young man to take me by the hand, and be united with me forever in the house of the Lord.
When I was 19 1/2 years old, I made personal covenants with my Heavenly Father, and the following day, I knelt across a sacred altar and covenanted to cleave to my new husband in righteousness. I felt that I was making a beautiful decision – the most important of my life. The Holy Ghost had confirmed to me that this man was the man I was to be with for eternity – to bear children with, and to grow closer to God with.
Sadly, our marriage did not last. I would have kept my commitment to him forever, helping him with his weaknesses and vices, but he did not feel the same. It was a heart-wrenching time of my life, especially being young with a baby less than a year old. But, I always kept my faith that eternal marriage was a true principle, and that I wanted that again – this time truly for eternity.
Several years later, I met that man. I knew after not much time that he was the one that I wanted to make those sacred covenants with in the temple. Due to unforseen circumstances, we were married civilly at first, rather than in the temple. It was heartbreaking for me, but I knew in one year we could be sealed. By the time that one year came upon us, we had a newborn son named Rigel. He was less than two months old when we were sealed in the Raleigh, NC Temple. I testify to you right now that I have never felt the presence of the Holy Ghost more strongly than I did the day Jad and I were sealed, and then our beautiful baby boy was brought in to be sealed to us. If I didn’t already have a testimony of eternal families, it was unbreakable that day. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my baby was bound to me and my husband not only for this life, but for eternity.
I have continued to have many spiritual experiences in the temple since that day more than five years ago. When I made covenants in the temple on behalf of my husband’s deceased grandmother, I felt a sure and distinct prompting that she had accepted those covenants. Jad and I both felt the Spirit so strongly when we knelt across the altar and sealed his grandmother to his grandfather, who had died many years before. I have had similar experiences with both family and strangers I have done work for.
Because of my firm belief of the sacredness and importance of temple covenants, I was insistent on attending my cousin’s, Lisa’s, temple wedding to her sweetheart, Sam, in June of this year. There were obstacles in my way from attending, but I never considered for a moment staying home. I knew that this day would be the most important and happiest day of my beloved cousin’s life. I was going to be there. And I went, with my mom and nana. It was truly a blessed experience. My love for my cousin, and my new cousin-in-law increased, as well as my testimony of the divinity of the marriage and family unit.
A little over a month ago, Jad and I drove our kids to the Raleigh Temple to see it for the first time. We felt bad that was the first time we had taken them, but we were still excited. The boys really enjoyed themselves. They could tell there was something special about that building and those grounds. The flowers and grass were perfectly manicured. The feeling there was peaceful and warm. You could see the calmness in their eyes and the happiness they felt just being there walking around. It made an impression on them, and Casey mentioned how he couldn’t wait to someday enter the temple and do baptisms for the dead.
Most recently, we had the most wonderful temple family experience of all. Over Labor Day Weekend, we made the over six-hour trip to Philadelphia with the primary reason of visiting the LDS Philadelphia Temple Open House. It wasn’t something that we planned to do well in advance, but we had friends who were going, and then we heard of more and more friends going. Jad and I then started to think, “Should we go? Can we go?”
As we thought about the possibilities, and started doing research, we both felt that it would be a wonderful and spiritual experience for our family. Our children would be able to not only see a temple, but walk inside of it. It was settled. We were going.
Jad took a day off work so we could go September 2-5. I spent more hours planning our trip than I would like to admit, from getting a hotel, to researching food and attractions, to reserving a spot at the open house, to researching some more. Finally, the day came to go. We felt the blessings of the Lord that whole weekend, from leaving the house on time, encountering nearly no traffic on the way, and having a very pleasant and beautiful drive up. We also felt the Lord’s hand financially – we would not have been able to afford that trip had we not just received a large refund after refinancing our house the month before.
That first night, we attended the Philadelphia Temple Open House. I was spiritually affected by the fact that the only place that whole day that we had really seen heavy traffic was right next to the temple. It took us over 15 minutes to approach a stoplight and then turn right to park. There were people everywhere who wanted to attend this open house – people from our church and people just curious to see it.
The temple was beautiful, and we lit up with excitement as we saw it from our car. We couldn’t wait to enter. We started out by going inside a brand new LDS chapel across the street. We were led to a classroom with a TV and sister missionaries, who introduced the temple to us. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as we watched the presentation that talked about the blessings that come from temples and what we do in them. I felt my testimony of temples renewed just in watching that video. Tears don’t stream down my face for no reason – I was feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost.
After the lovely video, and sincere and sweet testimonies from the missionaries, we were led to the temple. We put shoe protectors on our feet to keep the temple clean, and then we were all able to go in. I can’t begin to express to you the beauty and serenity of the temple.
You can see pictures of the Philadelphia Temple here.
Throughout the tour, we ended up climbing up four flights of gorgeous stairs. The furniture, light fixtures, and coloring was wonderful. But, there was more. As we visited rooms like the baptismal font, the bridal room, the instruction room, the sealing room, etc., we could feel peace and love everywhere. My favorite rooms were the Chapel and the Celestial Room. In the Chapel area, we sat and listened to beautiful hymns on a self-playing organ. In the Celestial Room, there was no music or speaking. The guides let us just sit and take in the atmosphere. We stared at the huge chandelier and took in the sacredness of this meditation room. There wasn’t a sound to be heard, even with children in the room.
The whole experience was unforgettable. My children were entranced. Those of you who know my children know how wild they can be, but they were completely calm and obedient in the temple. They could feel it was a special place. When we exited, I felt so blessed to have been able to bring my children to the house of the Lord for the first time.
I was also so impressed at the calming and awesome effect being in the temple had for people not of our faith. Nobody was disrespectful or visibly disturbed or confused. Every person I saw in our group, a member of my church or not, was thoughtful and completely involved in the experience. It was hard to leave the safety of the temple. I almost wanted to go back in and go through it again. I am sure many people felt that way.
After our tour, we spent quite a lot of time in the visitors center next door, and then on the roof of that building looking at the shining temple before us. Out of the whole weekend, this was the premium experience.
But our special experiences with temples weren’t over that night. Monday, the day our Philadelphia vacation ended, we visited my beloved brother in Baltimore. We loved spending a few hours with him. Then, it was time to go home. Jad and I were both surprised when my GPS took us away from I-95 and onto I-495, a different route than on the way up.
It wasn’t long before I looked up and saw a shining beacon approaching in the distance. “Jad, it’s the temple!” Our hearts were filled with indescribable excitement at the site of the Washington, DC LDS temple. I quickly checked the GPS to see how far away it was – only 4 minutes. “We have to take the kids!”
So, we did. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t get home until late. We knew that we wanted our children to see and experience this beautiful temple – the first temple I ever entered as a teenager.
We started out at the large and amazing visitors center. The kids were so happy there. At first, I was worried they would be destructive or bored, but they weren’t. We spent well over an hour there, and could have easily stayed longer.
Casey loved looking at pictures of all the temples while Kamren couldn’t stop looking at the model of the temple. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the model of the inside of the temple. I recognized the paintings and chairs, and was completely in awe.
There was a new children’s section, and Rigel didn’t want to leave. He and Kamren both absolutely loved watching videos, listening to music, and playing games. Casey enjoyed learning more about the service our church does around the world, and watching videos about the experiences of different missionaries.
We even got our family picture taken in front of a backdrop of the beautiful temple. We had a marvelous time there. But, we couldn’t stop there. We had to walk down to actually look at this perfect, gorgeous structure.
The Angel Moroni was not on the temple because he was being cleaned and repaired. That was okay. The flowers, bees, and feelings around the temple brought the very same inner peace and joy as the Philadelphia Temple.
We got in the car again to finally go home, and we all felt completely blessed to have been able to be around two glorious houses of God in one weekend. Rigel said he didn’t want to leave, and it melted my heart.
I thank my Heavenly Father for the blessings of temples. I am grateful most of all that through temple ordinances, families can be united eternally. The temple will always be a holy and revered place in my home and family. I am grateful that this past weekend, my children could start building their own testimonies of the Lord’s holy house.