Our first temple visit
We were well looked after the first visit to the temple, by the temple workers and our friends in the branch. It had been a long but exciting trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the temple with our three boys and the branch president and his wife. There were a few other members of our branch who also attended. The year was 1983 and the month was March. We had travelled 24 hours from our home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and had arrived a few days previous to our appointment to receive our endowments and to be sealed as a family. [The temple endowment is a sacred ceremony where one receives knowledge of the Lord’s purposes, teachings, and expectations. The sealing ordinance binds families together, forever, if they remain faithful].
The experience was one we will never forget, especially kneeling at the altar after being sealed to each other, and then to be sealed to our three little boys and the son who had died in his fifth day after birth.
This trip was made each year after that first trip – to the Washington D.C. Temple and then to the Toronto Ontario Temple when it opened. It was still a 24-hour trip, but now the expense did not include the exchange rate.
Those once-a-year trips had to sustain us during our early years in the Church.
Our own Halifax Nova Scotia Temple
Then it happened – a visit from President Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet of the Lord, who made a side trip to stop and speak to the Saints in Nova Scotia. As he bid us farewell, and walked off the stage at the Scotiabank Center, he returned with the exciting news that he felt we needed a temple in our area! If we would do our part, and encourage missionary work in our stake, he would see that we got a temple.
In 1999 we saw that promise come true, and President Hinckley returned to dedicate our Halifax Nova Scotia Temple. Now the trip to the temple was only a three and a half-hour drive.
Shortly after its opening, we became ordinance workers, then later counselor and assistant to the matron, and then Temple President and Matron in the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple for three years.
Throughout the years, it has been the temple that has fortified us and helped us stay focused on the covenants that we have made and the blessings we have been promised through these ordinances.
Our experiencers as temple workers
There are so many examples of how the emphasis on the patron experience not only blessed the patrons, but also blessed us, the workers. We have seen many examples that the Lord’s hands are not only in the details of our lives but also in the unexpected details of other’s lives.
Being a small temple, the hours of operation are limited, but even with these restrictions, one particular experience testified to us that if we walk the covenant path we will reap the blessings.
We were having a very busy day at the temple, and a young couple, dressed in white, and waiting for the next endowment session to begin so they could perform an ordinance for someone whose name was provided by the temple, wandered near the baptistry. They approached us and in conversation we learned that they were on vacation and had decided to come to the temple before continuing their sightseeing experience.
He had a couple of ancestors’ temple cards in his car and wondered it they could do their baptisms. We assured him that we could make that arrangement.
A brother who was just leaving the temple was given the young couple’s car keys and was asked if he would mind retrieving those cards, as the young couple were already dressed in their white clothing.
We arranged for them to go in to the baptistry and perform the baptisms and confirmations for his grandparents whom he had been very close to during their earthly life.
There were tears of joy as they left the baptistry, and we were then able to have them go to the next endowment session and afterwards perform the sealing ordinance for them.
As they were leaving the temple, we wished them well on the rest of their vacation, and their response was that nothing else on their trip could top this temple experience.
The temple will bless all who enter
Another wonderful experience taught us that those of all ages can receive the blessings of the temple.
We were invited to speak at Caribou, Maine, one of the distant units in our temple district.
The youth of the unit had just returned from a bus trip to the temple. They had risen at 2:30 am and travelled two hours to meet the bus which then took seven hours to arrive at the temple. They were at the temple for two hours while all the youth on the bus did baptisms and then returned home late at night.
I asked two young girls why they would be willing to make this journey and spend most of that day travelling. Their reply touched my heart. They said, “Because of how I feel in the temple.”
As we search out our ancestors and take their information to the temple with us, and perform vicarious work for those dearly departed family members, we are becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ and coming to a greater understanding of His Atonement and how it not only can bless us, but also those on the other side of the veil.
We continue to serve as ordinance workers in the temple and continue to be strengthened on our journey on the covenant path.
We have learned from so many wonderful experiences while serving either as worker or patron, that when we are willing to serve the Lord, no sacrifice is too great or too small. If we expect the tender mercies of the Lord, they will come in ways we cannot imagine. As we count our many blessings, it continues to surprise us what the Lord has done.