At Home in His House

by Janet Thomas

Associate Editor

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When you put your heart into the temple, you end up with the temple in your heart.

When the first members of the Church in modern times were building temples in Ohio and Illinois more than 150 years ago, they gave their time, their strength, their possessions, and their hearts to see that the beautiful buildings were completed. They knew it was important to have temples of God on the earth once again.

For thousands and thousands of youth in 43 stakes in northern Utah, just last year they too gave their time, their strength, their efforts, and their hearts to see that a temple—the Mt. Timpanogos Temple—was completed. Thousands volunteered on less than eight hours’ notice to help clean up outside and complete the landscaping before the open house. During the open house, hundreds sang in special choirs. Hundreds came with others in their stakes to help direct traffic in the parking lots. Hundreds more pushed wheelchairs of those who needed assistance taking the tour. Others opened doors, introduced video presentations, and stood in convenient locations to assist those attending.

Because of their involvement in the completion of the temple, these youth feel very protective of this sacred place. Because of their service, they feel that this is “their” temple. But most important, they feel they want to live worthy to belong inside, to feel right at home in the house of the Lord.

A Sparkling Example

For two young women, Alisha, 18, and Nicole Bennett, 20, of the Highland Utah East Stake, one particular room is truly beautiful because of their efforts. They, along with their mother and another sister, assembled the crystal sconces and the large chandelier in the bride’s room.

Nicole explains, “Mom was asked to help work on the chandeliers. After the first day, she was asked to bring some people back with her because they needed more help. She asked us if we wanted to go.

“The next day we found that a lot of people were helping in the celestial room. They asked us to do the bride’s room. We assembled the ten sconces for the walls quickly, but when we started unpacking the big chandelier pieces, we couldn’t find the instructions. We asked one of the engineers, and he said the instructions had accidently been thrown out with the trash. All we had was an eight-by-ten picture of what it was supposed to look like. They gave us the picture and said to do our best.”

The four of them unpacked all the boxes. They had to wear gloves so they didn’t get oil from their fingers on the crystals. They had the brass framework, but the crystals were meant to fit together like an intricate puzzle. The women didn’t know where to start. It was overwhelming just looking at all the crystals with no clues about how they went together.

They turned to prayer. “We just asked for help in seeing where things should go,” Alisha says.

They worked the rest of the afternoon, and for eight hours the next day. The chandelier was large, wider at the bottom than the span of Nicole’s arms and more than five feet tall. But slowly they figured out how it was designed. “We would find one piece,” said Nicole. “Then we would find another that fit with it. Some of the pieces had to be put in first, or you couldn’t get the ones that followed in. We found you could not do them out of order.” Receiving the inspiration they needed was “just amazing. It showed us that the Lord had his hand even in simple things.”

Now that they think back about it, putting together this puzzling light fixture compares to “putting together” their lives. They must do so in such a way that they are led to the temple. Just like the chandelier that required certain parts to be done in a certain order, so their choices must follow an order, such as being baptized, attending church regularly, participating in Young Women activities, keeping themselves morally clean, dating only young men with the highest of standards, and living righteously as they prepare for a temple marriage. These things too must be done in order, with one thing leading to the next.

For Nicole and Alisha, the bride’s room at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple is a place where they feel at home. Their work has made it beautiful. It is one of the rooms they will go to on their wedding days. A temple marriage, always a goal, now has become more defined and clearer. They are resolved to visit “their” room again.

Sweet Is the Work

During the month-long open house, when the temple could be toured by the general public, organists were needed to play hymns to set a reverent mood in the temple. Kevin Clark, 13, of the Orem Utah Hillcrest Stake, was asked to play.

“A counselor in my bishopric found out I was taking organ lessons,” said Kevin. “He asked my mom, then asked me, if I would play in the temple. I thought it sounded pretty neat.”

Kevin has quite a repertoire of hymns. He selected the quietest ones that he thought would sound the best in the chapel of the temple. And the day was even more memorable because he was assigned to play on his birthday.

“The temple makes you feel really good. It’s the best place you can be. I liked it that the people on the tours were surprised to see me playing. My mom told me about that afterward. One man who came in looked at me, then turned to my mom and said, ‘Very impressive.’”

Kevin enjoyed using his developing talent. And he learned something new about the temple. “I never realized how nice temples were inside. The best part about it was that I knew that later I would be coming here to do baptisms.”

Coming Clean

Every night of the open house, the temple had to be cleaned and readied for the next day’s tours. Dallas Matthews, 17, of the Orem Utah Windsor Stake, was assigned to the cleaning crew for one night, but on his own he came every night to help where he could. To Dallas, his efforts didn’t seem remarkable. But consider that after cleaning at the temple until 2:00 each morning, he was getting up at 6:00 A.M. for football practice. Dallas is the team captain at Timpanogos High School, where he is a wide receiver and backup quarterback.

Dallas was a little embarrassed when asked about the extra miles of service he put in for the temple open house. His dad says Dallas doesn’t usually talk about himself. But his devotion did not go unnoticed. Those in charge of the cleaning could not help but pay attention when this young man came faithfully every evening, sometimes bringing friends.

“I worked on patching the plastic [that protects the carpet] or redoing it every night if needed,” said Dallas. “I was never tired the next day. I just did it. I didn’t really notice that I wasn’t tired until I thought about it later.”

Every night Dallas would look in the mirrors in the sealing rooms. His reflection seemed to stretch into eternity. He tried to see the end but never could. Eternity is sometimes a hard concept for the mind to grasp, and Dallas thought about it every night. He knew that the temple was the place to be if the eternities are to be a place of progression.

“I felt the temple became a part of me,” said Dallas, “because I spent so much time there. I liked how it felt. It definitely makes me want to go back.”

A Helping Hand

Many teens volunteered to help others make the tour through the temple. Even though most of them had been on the temple tour with their families or with their seminary classes, they still found that helping someone else see the temple made the experience even better for themselves.

One group was asked to help the physically challenged American Fork special education seminary students take the tour.

Branden Madsen, 18, of the American Fork Central Stake, helped Natalie Shultz. Although Natalie couldn’t really talk to Branden, he said, “Her love and excitement were contagious. I had been through the temple four times before, but this was my best experience because of the sweet spirits of the special education students.”

For April Page, 17, from the Highland Utah East Stake, the temple has become a symbol of her goals. “Every time I talk with my parents about having the goal to go to the temple, they just become so emotional. They are so happy that is a definite goal of mine.”

April accompanied Michelle Bone. April said, “Michelle’s spirit completely overwhelmed me. The smile never left her face through the entire tour. Michelle taught me about being happy and having faith in what the gospel has taught me. I felt honored to be by her side in the Lord’s holy temple.”

Chris Ward, 16, of the Alpine Utah Stake, walked with Kurt Turner. Kurt has been made an elder, something Chris still has to look forward to. “When I met this fine young man,” Chris said, “I was struck by his love and faith. He is a wonderful example to me, and I look up to him very much.”

This was Dallin Fyffe’s second tour through the temple. Dallin, 18, of the Alpine Utah Stake, accompanied a small girl confined to a wheelchair. “At the first moment when we started the tour, I was happy she was so comfortable with the situation. I realized that even though she was burdened with some physical limitations, her spirit had no boundaries.”

For these teens, their service in helping someone else through the temple is similar to the service given by those who attend the temple after its dedication. After going through the temple for yourself, you can return often to help those who have passed on to gain the blessings of the temple.

Every Act of Service

Could the temple have been built, opened for tours, and prepared for dedication without the help of volunteers? Every small donation of time and effort helped to make this temple beautiful.

Was it a sacrifice? They say no. It was no sacrifice. What they gained was greater than what they gave.

They have now been in the temple, and the temple is now in them. During the preparations and the open house, they have felt at home here. In the future, as they live righteously and prepare for the Lord’s blessings, they will return to feel right at home in the house of the Lord.

Photography by Welden Andersen, Jed Call, Maren Mecham, and Steven M. Studdert

Nicole (left) and Alisha Bennett

“It makes you feel really good,” said Kevin Clark. “It was fun to play the organ there. It was a beautiful white organ, and I liked the settings. I thought ‘Because I Have Been Given Much’ sounded the very best.”

Dallas Matthews (left) wanted to do more than baptisms in the new Mt. Timpanogos Temple. “There’s no doubt I went back every night for the atmosphere. It’s the best place I could be.”