When my Beehive leader told us that we were going to the Ogden Utah Temple to do baptisms for the dead in a few days, I was suddenly both very excited and very nervous.
It would be my first time doing baptisms for the dead, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. For one thing, I couldn’t remember the special way you were supposed to hold the arm of the person baptizing you. It had been over four years since my own baptism. What if I did it wrong? And what if I couldn’t find my recommend that day? There were so many worries going through my head that I couldn’t concentrate on the lesson.
That night at dinner I told my family the news. My brother, who is 14 and has done baptisms for the dead before, told me I would love it. “It’s really cool,” he said.
My brother was right, it was cool, very cool!
There were a lot of things that made it special. The thing that I will always remember about that first time in the temple was feeling the Spirit. I’ve heard that the temple is a sacred place, but now I better understand what that means, because I felt that sacredness through the Spirit.
I loved how friendly the temple workers were. They made me feel welcome and showed me exactly what to do while I was there. I don’t know why I was worried about doing something wrong. They helped me do everything the right way.
While we waited for our turn, we watched the group ahead of us through the windows overlooking the font. I had seen pictures of temple fonts, but seeing one in real life was a lot different. I was surprised how big the 12 oxen figures were.
I had never thought about how the people on the other side of the veil feel when their work is done. The person who spoke to us before we did the baptisms said that those people have been waiting a long time for this day. We were also told that we might get to meet them in the next life because they would appreciate our doing their temple work. That made me want to take each baptism seriously, even if I knew I couldn’t possibly remember the name of every person.
Another thing that was especially memorable that day was that the person performing the baptisms and confirmations for our group was a returned missionary from our ward. He hadn’t even been home a week, and he came to the temple with us. He even provided the names. He had brought them home from France, and he pronounced each name with a perfect French accent.
Later, when I got home and walked through the door, I yelled, “That was so totally awesome!”
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I went to the temple for the first time, but I definitely didn’t expect to be so eager to go back. I now realize that while I was in the temple, I left the world behind. That’s why I could feel the Spirit so strongly. That must be why our bishop was so happy to know we went to the temple. He wants everyone to feel that Spirit.
My brother was right. I loved the temple, and I can’t wait to return!
For more information on this topic, read
A Beautiful Spiritual Atmosphere
“We hope that you, as young members of the Church, will go often to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. When the time comes for you to go on a mission or be married, we pray that you will go to the temple worthily and feel the beautiful spiritual atmosphere that is present in the temple.”
President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95), “Your Temple Recommend,” New Era, Apr. 1995, 6.
Photographs by Matt Reier and John Luke, illustration by Joseph Alleman