Mormon Journal

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To Build Chapels for the Saints

Building chapels is far more than real estate transactions and dealing with contractors. My assignment a few years ago, while serving as counselor to President Evans T. Doxey of the Salt Lake Hunter West Stake, was to acquire building sites. The explosive growth in the area made more buildings absolutely necessary. We only had two chapels in the stake with four wards meeting in each building.

Prayerfully we selected a desirable site but, despite several months of negotiations, were unable to buy it. A site to the north ran into problems with the street system. A site to the south got as far as a survey before the county said they could not issue a permit there. A fourth location was eliminated because the distance and slopes of the land would make sewer connections too costly.

By now, almost two years had passed. Nearly all of the wards should have been divided. Something needed to happen quickly.

President Doxey called a stake fast and prayer to seek the Lord’s help, and two days later, the owner of the original site called and said it was available for purchase.

By then, plans were underway to divide the stake and President Doxey assigned me to acquire property for a new stake house. After careful study and prayer, we selected a 1.6 hectare site owned by two families in Hunter Sixth Ward. The bishop arranged for me to meet with each family. The first generously agreed to contribute the 0.8 hectares. When I met the other couple, the husband, a convert of about a year, began: “I know why you’ve called us in.”

He had had a dream the previous night that he had been called to come to this same office. All of the same people were there. I had explained that his neighbor had agreed to contribute 0.8 hectares for a stake house and invited him to do the same. He woke his wife, told her the dream, fell asleep again, dreamed the same dream a second time, again woke his wife and told her the dream, fell asleep a third time, dreamed the same dream a third time and for a third time, woke his wife. With feeling, she said, “Tell him the Church can have the 0.8 hectares and go back to sleep!”

A new stake center has now been built on this ideal site.

After the stake division, President Doxey, then called to preside over the new Hunter Central Stake, again asked me to acquire a building site. It was owned by one of the stake’s faithful widows who, when approached, said she was not interested in selling the land but that she would like to contribute it to the stake.

These repeated experiences have taught me something new about the faithfulness, love, and generosity of the good members of the Church. And they’ve also taught me that the Lord actively involves himself in these events.

[photo] Meeting House in Daraga, Albay

Ronald C. Barker, an attorney and father of nine, is first counselor in the Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake presidency.