Viewpoint: Seek the Temple as a Refuge from the Storm

Contributed By the Church News

  • 20 March 2016

Fijian Saints found refuge in the Suva Fiji Temple. Each of us can also turn to the temple to find refuge from life's storms.

Article Highlights

  • Discover renewed strength and fortification within the temple.
  • Strive to obtain and remain worthy of a temple recommend.
  • Take refuge from life's storms by attending the temple.

“As you and I go to the holy houses of God … we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation.” —President Thomas S. Monson

On June 18, 2000, just days shy of his 90th birthday, President Gordon B. Hinckley flew to Fiji for a three-and-a-half-hour stop.

The visit occurred weeks after armed rebels took government leaders hostage in the Pacific island nation; many businesses had been looted and significant parts of downtown Suva had burned. The military had declared martial law. Yet President Hinckley and the small group that accompanied him drove through armed military checkpoints and—in a private service—dedicated the Suva Fiji Temple.

The months after the dedication continued to be a challenging time for Fiji. Mandatory curfews were enforced and public transportation was limited.

But everything was different for Latter-day Saints in the country—the temple had become their refuge from the political storm.

“We started to see the blessing” immediately following the dedication, said Taniela B. Wakolo, a former stake president in Fiji who is now president of the Church’s Arkansas Little Rock Mission. “It is a significant sign that God loves Fiji and all its people.”

President Thomas S. Monson said in his April 2011 general conference address that the world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. “We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World”).

The prophet Isaiah described temples as a “place of refuge” from heat and storms. “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain” (2 Nephi 14:6).

We all need “a refuge from the storm” (D&C 115:6), said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a CES Devotional on May 4, 2014.

“We need a special place of refuge where we can wean ourselves from the distractions of our electronic devices by unplugging them so we can connect to the Spirit of God,” he said. “One of the best places to connect with the Spirit is in the temple—the house of the Lord.”

To help us “find a place to feel and hear the voice of the Lord today, I invite you to go to the temple,” continued Elder Ballard. “Go as often as you can.”

Those who do not qualify for a temple recommend can visit the temple grounds, he said. “Let me make a very important point in case you have never heard it before: Nothing prevents you or anyone else from visiting the temple grounds. The Lord wants you to prepare yourself to be worthy of a temple recommend and come to the temple as soon as you can. Walking the grounds will plant in your heart a desire to get a recommend and attend the temple regularly. …

“I assure each of you that as you go to the temple or visit the temple grounds, you will walk on sacred, holy ground just as the early patriarchs and matriarchs did so long ago. They were focused on their eternal journey and the most important things of life. Like them, you can also focus on feeling power and the presence of heaven” (“Be Still, and Know That I Am God”).

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “in the peace of lovely temples,” the serious problems of life find their solutions. “I am grateful to the Lord for temples. The blessings of the House of the Lord are eternal. They are of the highest importance to us because it is in the temples that we obtain God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life. Temples really are the gateways to heaven” (in Thomas S. Monson, “The Temple of the Lord,” Apr. 1993 general conference).

In the days and weeks after the original dedication of the Suva Fiji Temple, Latter-day Saints in the country found a literal refuge in the newly dedicated temple.

“The noise was so loud. We could get away from the noise [in the temple],” said Panapasa Tilley, then serving as a bishop in Fiji.

“We could just go in and say, ‘OK, we are out of this world.’” Last month, the temple again became a literal refuge from a storm.

Hours before President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, rededicated the Suva Fiji Temple on February 21, Cyclone Winston—the largest storm to ever hit Fiji in recorded history—made landfall.

Government curfews, power outages, and downed trees on roads prevented many Fijian Church members from participating in the rededication.

But the rededication moved forward. As the storm approached, President Eyring moved from his hotel to the mission home, located on the grounds of the temple. There on the temple grounds, he weathered the storm.

“We never felt alone as members of the Church. We felt that the Brethren were with us,” said Elder Adolf J. Johansson, an Area Seventy. “They did not say, ‘We are praying for you.’ The message they brought is, ‘We are here hoping and praying with you.’”

Then in the hours after the storm, as the sun rose and birds filled the sky, President Eyring offered a prayer of dedication on the temple and the land of Fiji.

The peace that is felt in the temple is the true refuge from the storm, said Elder Johansson. “You cannot stop the work of the Lord. You cannot. … That is what is giving the people of Fiji courage.”