By Elder Manfred Schütze, Germany
In the months preceding the opening of the Freiberg Temple in 1985, as stake president I had a particularly sacred duty to conduct approximately 350 temple interviews for faithful members in East Germany. Although many had been members of the Church for decades, political circumstances up to that time had not permitted them to attend the temple. The opening of the Freiberg Temple was to be the first visit to the temple for almost all of them—the first opportunity to perform sacred ordinances for themselves and their families. Of the many spiritual experiences I had in conducting these interviews, there is one I particularly remember and that is still vivid to me more than 25 years later.
Brother Karl Pabst had been a faithful, strong member all his life. In the spring of 1985 he was bedridden with a severe illness and felt his life would soon be over. I came to conduct his temple interview. He looked at me sadly, and in tears he said, “I’m not going to make it to the temple, but I so wanted to go.” My answer was brief: “Brother Pabst, I want you to go into the eternal world as a temple-worthy servant of God.”
We conducted an interview where we carefully went through all the questions. Afterwards, I made out a temple recommend for him. He was never able to use it because he died before the dedication, but his worthy family members were able to complete all the ordinances that were still missing after the temple opened.
It is a privilege to have a temple recommend, and we should use it to attend the temple as often as our circumstances allow. We rejoice in the number of youth who are worthy to hold a temple recommend and who go to the temple regularly to do baptisms for the dead.
Having a temple recommend is an indication of our personal commitment to the gospel. In the temple we serve with other members who have a high standard of conduct and who are earnestly striving to live worthily and keep the covenants they have made. Every time we go to the temple we are edified as we enjoy the special atmosphere in the temple with them.
One such member was a sister from the region of Chernobyl in the Ukraine. She had traveled many hours on a bus to the temple. She was not well as a result of the nuclear reactor disaster in that city, and her husband had died immediately following the catastrophe. She had heard the plan of salvation from the missionaries, been baptized, and only had one desire: to receive the saving ordinances for herself and be sealed to her husband. That happened. She only managed to attend two additional temple sessions during her week at the temple. Soon after her return home, she died, but all the essentials were done!
We should do whatever is necessary to obtain and maintain a temple recommend, and to deal quickly with anything that might prevent us from doing so, be it unworthiness or indifference. Even if your personal or family circumstances prevent you from going to the temple often, you should nevertheless always hold a temple recommend. It confirms that you are living in harmony with the essential laws of the gospel. This knowledge brings self-assurance and confidence that you are on the right path and also gives you incentive to maintain that worthiness.
In the temple we remember our kindred dead. The ordinances performed in the temple are effective in eternity. These ordinances are essential for those who have departed this life, and we are blessed as we do this vicarious work in their behalf. In serving our deceased ancestors we are following the example of the Savior, who was always interested in the individual: “And he did heal them every one ...” (3 Nephi 17:9).
How blessed we are to be able to participate in this great work! I invite every one of you, including our young men and young women, to be part of it by always holding a current temple recommend.