The Temple at 12


My mother’s birthday present changed my life.

I will be forever grateful to my mother, who taught me the importance of the temple. For years, she prepared us for the temple by having pictures of many beautiful temples hanging in our home. We also had family home evening lessons about temples. All of this was in anticipation of the long-promised visit to the temple after reaching the age of 12.

The words of the song my mother sang, often at the breakfast table before family prayers, still ring in my ears.

I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.

(Children’s Songbook, 95)

For each of us five children, Mother’s present for our 12th birthday was a trip to the temple. The closest temple—Johannesburg—was a long trip, a 16-hour, nonstop drive, and it cost a lot of money. It meant leaving at 4:00 A.M. and arriving after 8:00 P.M.—tired, hot, and sticky.

Yet my mother always made sure money for the temple trip was first in the budget, along with tithing. Each year, we made the journey to the temple to do work for the dead. By sacrificing so much, my mother helped me understand the beauty of the temple and the importance of the work done there.

When I think of my mother, beaming proudly, as she presented her two children, my sister and me, to the temple president and showed him our recommends, I am reminded of Hannah bringing Samuel to Eli in the temple and dedicating her son to the Lord. Although I didn’t fully understand the importance of the temple at first, each successive temple trip left an indelible impression on me. My love for the temple grew each year as my mother sacrificed so much for our experiences there. To see her children in the temple, dressed in white and doing the Lord’s work, meant more to my mother than anything she could have bought with the money she saved.

The culmination of all my mother’s efforts came when I received my endowment before going on a mission. I will never forget the image of my parents standing arm in arm in the celestial room, waiting for me. I will never forget the importance of the temple and temple marriage they taught me. It is especially helpful as I serve as a missionary to bring souls to the knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and start them on the path that will ultimately lead them to be sealed eternally in the temple.

I am so thankful for my mother, who understood the importance of the temple, and who, through many years of patient teaching, was able to help me realize the importance of the beautiful ordinances performed there.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sam Lawlor