Early one morning a group of young women set out to walk the path that a dedicated man walked over a hundred years ago.
At 3:20 a.m. on a dark Saturday morning, 70 young women and our leaders from the Cedar Hills Sixth Ward, Cedar Hills Utah West Stake, gathered at a meetinghouse in order to walk 22 miles from the Draper Utah Temple to the Salt Lake Temple.
We were doing this in honor of John Rowe Moyle, who is a prime example of a person dedicated to the temple. He was a stonecutter for the Salt Lake Temple and was a man who represented hard work, dedication, and pure love for his Savior. We tried to exemplify him.
After gathering in the early morning, we climbed into cars and drove to the Draper Utah Temple. At 4:30 in the morning we began our walk.
In addition to the many leaders and young women walking, John Rowe Moyle’s great-grandson James Moyle walked with us. He not only added to the spirit that was there but also made our journey more intimate as we honored his ancestor.
While walking, we had the privilege of watching the sunrise and seeing a brand new day unfold right before our eyes.
Every couple of miles we had an aid station. What a blessing those stations were. Each aid station was full of members from our ward who supported and lifted us up. There was also music, food, and smiles, which definitely lifted our spirits.
Everyone was feeling pretty good as we continued on our journey to the temple. At about mile 19, things started to get difficult. People were tired, and bodies were aching, yet we still had another couple of miles to go.
The most beautiful aspect about this challenge was the support and love we all had for one another. We supported one another throughout the entire walk, but it was near the end when our love was evident. Girls took each other’s arms, encouraging and lifting each other.
At mile 21, we stopped for lunch. We were within one mile of our final destination—the temple. As we ate lunch and massaged our swollen feet, we listened while Sister Elaine S. Dalton, the general Young Women president, spoke to us. Not only was she expressing her love for us, but she was also encouraging us. She gave us support and the boost we needed to finish.
Following our lunch, we put our shoes back on and continued on our trek. A couple of minutes in, we had an amazing surprise when the young men came to encourage and cheer us on for the last mile. Cheers were yelled in the air as they ran up to meet us. With the young men by our side, we finished the last mile.
Exhaustion and pain had taken hold of everyone, but as we rounded that last corner to the temple, none of that mattered. Shouts of pure joy rang out on Temple Square. There, in all its majestic beauty, stood the temple of the Lord. To add to the spirit, our families were standing at the gates to the temple to welcome us. Everyone ran to their families as we completed the final steps of our long journey.
We had walked 22 miles from the Draper Utah Temple to the Salt Lake Temple, and we had done it together.
Following those reunions, all of the 70 walkers gathered together on the steps of the Salt Lake Temple, directly under the “Holiness to the Lord” inscription that John Rowe Moyle had carved 100 years ago. There we held hands, embraced one another, and cried tears of joy. We had done it. We had walked 22 miles from the Draper Utah Temple to the Salt Lake Temple, and we had done it together.
John Rowe Moyle
“John Rowe Moyle … was a convert to the Church who left his home in England and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley as part of a handcart company. He built a home for his family in a small town a valley away from Salt Lake City. John was an accomplished stonecutter and, because of this skill, was asked to work on the Salt Lake Temple.
“Every Monday John left home at two o’clock in the morning and walked six hours in order to be at his post on time. On Friday he would leave his work at five o’clock in the evening and walk almost until midnight before arriving home. He did this year after year.
“One day, while he was doing his chores at home, a cow kicked him in the leg, causing a compound fracture. With limited medical resources, the only option was to amputate the broken leg. So John’s family and friends strapped him onto a door and, with a bucksaw, cut off his leg a few inches from the knee.
“In spite of the crude surgery, the leg started to heal. Once John could sit up in bed, he began carving a wooden leg with an ingenious joint that served as an ankle to an artificial foot. Walking on this device was extremely painful, but John did not give up, building up his endurance until he could make the 22-mile (35-km) journey to the Salt Lake Temple each week, where he continued his work.
“His hands carved the words ‘Holiness to the Lord’ that stand today as a golden marker to all who visit the Salt Lake Temple.
“John did not do this for the praise of man. Neither did he shirk his duty, even though he had every reason to do so. He knew what the Lord expected him to do.
“Years later, John’s grandson Henry D. Moyle was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and, eventually, served in the First Presidency of the Church. President Moyle’s service in these callings was honorable, but his grandfather John’s service, though somewhat less public, is just as pleasing to the Lord. John’s character, his legacy of sacrifice, serves as a banner of faithfulness” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lift Where You Stand,” Liahona or Ensign, Nov. 2008, 55–56).
Watch a video about the story of John Rowe Moyle.
Photographs courtesy of the Cedar Hills Sixth Ward; painting of John Rowe Moyle © Dan Burr