Showing posts with label Boise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boise. Show all posts

Church Finances: Then, Now, and in the Future

This week, people are responding to the leak regarding the Church's finances. I also see some people who are deeply upset, so I thought I would provide a jumping off point for processing those feelings. If this is something you care about, you need to check out the work of D. Michael Quinn has done on the subject of the Church's finances.

He wrote the book on this subject, exploring the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its finances. In this three-volume collection, Quinn details the history of the Church, including how the organization went from nearly going bankrupt to becoming one of the richest corporations in the world. To my knowledge, there is no other resource as well-researched and comprehensive as his.

Mormon Stories and the Salt Lake Tribune have done interviews with him discussing what he found. They should be required listening for every person who has ever felt some type of way about paying tithing.

Here's the big takeaway I learned from Quinn:

The Church is not financially solvent in any country outside of North America. The tithing/monies members pay in their own countries would not be enough to support their basic operations in almost every country where the Church has a presence. By investing the money they receive in North America, the Church is able to multiply it before distributing it to other nations throughout the world.

With the unprecedented access that Quinn received into the Church's financial records, past and present, he makes the case that without these investments, the global church wouldn't exist the way we know it today.

The Cost of Temple Operations

I've seen a lot of criticism on Twitter from people about what the Church spends on its facilities, and particularly its temples. I want to provide some insight into this for others who have never had any personal experiences with this aspect the Church's facility management.

My last calling in the Church was as an ordinance worker. I saw parts of the temple most other people never see. I saw the work that went into cleaning and maintaining the building. I participated in it on multiple occasions. The Church uses quality materials in its temple construction because the wear and active use on those facilities is very high. Even with spending that kind of money, the wear on the furniture, the fixtures, the molding, the carpets, etc is tremendous. Sure, you can use cheaper materials. That means they would wear out and break faster and need to be replaced more often. Using cheaper materials would ultimately be a waste of money.

Now, you may think temples themselves are a waste of money because the services that take place in them are unimportant or irrelevant to you. That you feel that way is totally valid. But you need to understand it's not going to change the lived experience of anyone else. There will always be people who go to the temple and find value in that experience. They will do it at a high cost to themselves, if that's what it takes.

The Church's efforts to alleviate that burden? That's not a bad thing.

Now, here's the rock and the hard place regarding facility management in other countries. How do you balance using quality materials that don't constantly have to be replaced vs. building an extravagant facility that is out of place in the local community? 

What are the implications of building cheaper, lower quality buildings in other countries, just because the members in those countries don't have as many resources to support their operations? Are people in Ghana undeserving of a temple as nice as the people in Draper, Utah? 

How does racism play into the narrative of what we believe is "too nice for some people"? 

If the Church clearly has enough money to feed people and build temples... why get mad at them when they choose to do both?

As the Church continues to build more temples, the distribution of the costs of operating them will continue to shift, pulling from smaller and smaller groups of people who likely can't support the costs on their own.

So, why not stick with the Hinckley mini-temple? Surely those provide the best of both worlds? Nope! And I can tell you from personal experience why that doesn't work. Each temple, no matter its size, has a minimum number of people required to staff it every day. That's five days with (typically) three shifts each day. When you have smaller temples, you have to provide the same number of workers to serve fewer patrons. It's ideal only in some circumstances.

Mini temples created situations in many rural areas where all the people who might've attended the temple as a patron have to staff it, and there aren't enough people who actively go to sustain attendance to justify the building and its operation costs. I watched that process play out when the Meridian temple was built, the Boise temple district was broken up, and the impact that had on our staff and patrons.


Carving from the outside of the Meridian Idaho Temple during construction.

All of this is actively monitored and calculated into the decision to build a temple. No temple is ever built without financial allotments for how the building will be constructed, but also how it will be maintained deep into the future.

How could the Church improve its financial transparency?

Let's speak to the heart of the concern people have: $100 billion seems like a bananapants number when you look at it completely divorced from any context. A reasonable person would say, "Okay, so let's be informed and not ignore the context for it." Money is a necessary part of running any organization, especially a global one. We all understand that. My criticism, based on what I know, has nothing to do with the $100 billion number. It's the fact that contextualizing it is impossible because transparency from the Church about its own finances is nonexistent.
I've seen people recalling toxic moments they have had in paying tithing, largely due to the insensitivity of local leadership. Let me be clear: those experiences are also part of the context for this number. We should be honoring and learning from that pain, not ignoring or minimizing it.

There will always be calls for the Church to be fully public with all of its financial operations. I'm not going to hold my breath for that to happen. For as long as those decision remain private and privileged, we will likely continue to gain access to the bulk of that information only through leaks, lawsuits, and legislation.
So what does a more realistic, achievable form of change look like on this front?
The thing that immediately comes to mind is to open up ward and stake financial clerk positions to women. Make is so any person within the Church, regardless of their gender, can see, be familiar with, and control the execution of financial policy and procedure on the local level.
Did you know the ward clerk has greater authority over how local funds are distributed than the bishop does? I didn't know that until my husband served in that position. I never would've known it if he hadn't because I'm a woman. It's also because I'm a woman in the US. If lived in Hong Kong, there are many leadership and administrative positions in the Church that would be open to me. So let's not pretend there's any necessary relationship between priesthood ordination and financial capability if the Church is already training women to serve effectively in these roles.

Moral of the story: People who criticize and exonerate without information are usually both wrong. Also, it's like a week before Christmas. If you don't have the energy for this outrage, feel free to let this one go.

Temple Attendance as a Personal Choice

Image Courtesy of: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormons. Can we talk about the temple? And how it's none of y'all's business how often someone else is or isn't going there?

I went back to the temple today for the first time since January when I was released as a temple worker. Yeah, I know it has been a while. I also know it's literally no one else's business but mine.

If you need a break from the temple, that's okay.

If the thought of adding one more thing to your day, week, month, or year is causing you actual emotional distress, and scaling back on temple worship is something you need to do for yourself, that's okay. 

You are enough. 

The temple can be a great place to find quiet time away from problems, to regain perspective, and to commune with God. 

 It can also be a place where pain and frustration with certain parts of church culture and social pressure are more keenly felt. 

For some people, it is both.

Some people don't have the energy or emotional space to parse out the good from the bad in their temple experience, especially when they're already struggling. Don't see their absence from the temple as a failure. Don't make their problems about you and your perceptions.

Knowing that my absence was felt, that I brought something tangible to people's lives by my presence there that they miss, was a beautiful gift. Hearing that my absence was unacceptable in no way adds to that gift. In fact, I daresay it tarnished it somewhat.

When I was a temple worker, it was appropriate for other people and their needs to be my primary focus while serving in the temple. It was appropriate for me to be attuned to their needs and desires above my own. That is no longer appropriate now that I've been released.
How often I attend the temple, where and when I draw from that well of living water, is between me and the Lord now. 
Because my focus is now right where it should be: on me and my personal relationship with God. 
What that should look like is for us to decide together, without input or interference from anyone else.
God knows and respects my limits. He sees and knows the burdens I have carried in my personal life throughout this hiatus. He has carried me through them with tenderness, without ever resorting to guilt or manipulation to get me to do more than I could manage. If what I have done with my time over these past months is acceptable to God, no one else's opinions should matter at all. If it wasn't enough for him, wouldn't it stand to reason that I would be the first he would tell, not someone else?
And, as always, be careful of the criticism you offer. It may just be the criticism you take from someone else someday.

Dispatches from a Boise Temple Ordinance Worker

19 December 2015

I'm officially a temple worker. Yay!

27 February 2016

I once said being a temple worker is about 50% memorization and 50% smiling at people. Yesterday was 50% memorization, 40% smiling, and 10% swooning over how attractive my husband is until I forget what I'm supposed to do.

I love how the Lord reveals needs we can fill. Like how I need to carry a sewing kit in my temple bag in case there's a hole in my skirt. And that I need to get a sewing kits for the temple because they don't have one.

10 March 2016

"The only Ghostbusters I care about are temple worker." -By Common Consent on Twitter.

Welp. There's no unhearing that now.

18 July 2016

Getting a big locker in the changing room has become the highlight of my day. 

11 August 2016

I've made my peace with my infertility. And I don't mind when people ask me about it anymore. I talk about it pretty openly as it is. But the people who ask me why I'm a temple worker, like there's something else I should be doing. They bother me. A lot. 

They're the ones I give the fake smile, unapologetic "Because I can't have children." And let them sit in the awkward silence.

I mean, the old ladies who honestly don't know better, who are delighted I'm there, that's different. They're allowed to be nosy. But I have little patience for middle-aged people who are just being nosy. They deserve to feel awkward for asking.  

26 August 2016

Just know this. If you have a cell phone alarm that goes off for over 20 minutes in the locker room, everyone is secretly judging you.

26 Sep 2016

There's a man on our shift who looks like 80 year old Dwight Schrute. Not staring at him is a weekly struggle.

16 October 2016

In case y'all didn't know, temple giggles are the worst giggles.

The giggles I get when I'm working in initiatory, and the patron has a funny last name are bad enough.

The giggles when the next patron's name card is also funny are even worse.

Inda Woods 

5 November 2016

The temple president informed us temple workers that white bow ties are acceptable temple attire for patrons.

14 November 2016

My former visiting teacher asked me to cover her temple shift because her daughter-in-law is going to be on Wheel of Fortune.

6 January 2017

Watching patrons fall asleep to the temple films makes me feel so much better about myself. Since most of them have been falling asleep in the temple longer than I've been alive, I don't feel qualified to correct them.

19 January 2017

I won't be watching the inauguration because I'll be working my shift at the temple, then eating birthday cake.
30 March 2017
Trying to find a sub for my temple shift tomorrow. I can confirm the fifth circle of hell is calling the elderly from an out of state number.
23 April 2017
If you ever need a place in the Boise Temple where you can fall apart in peace and quiet, I recommend the first aid room.

5 May 2017

My guilty pleasure of being a temple worker is watching two thirds of every endowment session fall asleep. Admittedly, it's because I have a hard time staying awake too. It's hard to feel guilty when I see it happen so often. 

And people make the best faces when they're trying to stay awake, right as they fall asleep.

24 June 2017

I have completely given up on correcting people on not asking me why I don't have children at this point. It's too exhausting.

I've mentioned it to my shift coordinator at the temple,warning her "if I have to have the 'you could always adopt' conversation against my will with one more temple worker, I'm going to ask them to pay for it." 

But she can't stop people from being nosy. She can't stop them from being rude, any more than I can stop them from asking me about it.

When the workers finally stop doing it, the patrons start asking questions. It's really affecting my ability to go to the temple in peace.

28 July 2017

I'm seriously about to go up in testimony and tell people myself how badly we need temple workers.

"If you aren't ready, get ready. If you aren't worthy, get worthy. We need you more than we've ever needed you before. Now is the time!" 

Sign up slips for additional Temple shifts went around today. Guys, I feel so bad. I feel bad no matter what I do!

26 August 2017

Hardest parts of being a temple worker, ranked:

  1. Giving away time 
  2. Constant correction 
  3. Standing still 
  4. Being quiet  
  5. Uninvited political conversations with other temple workers 
  6. Realizing #5 was defending Joe Arpaio

I didn't know that's who she was talking about, because she couldn't even remember his name. We've been told on numerous occasions not to even talk about politics. We have training videos that tell us not to talk about politics. I basically get through it by imagining how embarrassed they'd be if they understood how vehemently I disagree with them.

15 September 2017

Sometimes, being a temple worker is so hard. I am completely drained of my ability to deal with exhausting, problematic people.

You may not realize this about the temple, but the reason you're able to go to the temple is because of the dedication of hundreds of people. They aren't paid. They aren't rewarded. In many cases, they aren't even thanked.  
In fact, if you knew what was really going on in the lives of most temple workers, it would upset you that they give up so much to be there. There are people on my shift who have children or spouses dying of cancer. And yet, they show up. Because if they didn't, no one else could go to the temple. There would be no temple without these workers.
I try to remember this when some of the workers forget themselves, or do something embarrassing or hurtful. I had a head-on collision with someone else's personality today. They didn't like the way I put my hands on a patron's head. Even though we're never supposed to correct each other in front of patrons, that was my first interaction at the beginning of my shift. She grabbed my hands, yanked them to where she thought they should be, and jammed them into the patron's head.
I wish I could say this was rare. But dealing with every flavor of correction under the sun is what it means to be a temple worker. It's especially difficult when you're younger, like I am. Older people seem to think they can treat you with less respect. I shouldn't have to be used to this, but I am. So I didn't say anything I was thinking or feeling. I waited for her to come to her senses.
By the end of the ordinance, she looked up at me in disbelief. "I can't believe I just did that. That was uncalled for. I apologize."
That was more than I've gotten from some others. So rather than stay angry, I chose to forgive. 
Meanwhile, the poor patron was stunned. I hope she can forget it, or at least take away from it that she apologized. Because as angry as I was in a small moment, I understand the stress and pressure that we're all under right now. Opening a new temple takes a very difficult job and gives you about half the people you need to do it, at full capacity. 
So even though I wasn't emotionally ready for this exchange, and it hurt my feelings, I'm glad it was me and not one of the newer sisters. Their day for this will come. But if it comes too soon, they will leave in tears and never come back. I know this happens because I've watched it happen. It breaks my heart. And some of those sisters, I've never seen again.

So the next time you see a temple worker make a mistake, please smile. Don't be afraid to tell them how much you appreciate their trying. You may feel like you have to point out a mistake if they make one. Don't worry though. Three other sisters will do it after you leave. You may not realize it, but there is always someone listening. That's the nature of what we do.
It means the world to us when you say thank you. I've even had sisters give me hugs. It makes my day. It makes the bad days so much better. So if you're reading this, please thank the temple workers in your life. Their sacrifices make the temple a holy place. And they will never, ever forget you for it. 
You may not know this, but they love and pray for you always. They notice when you come to the temple, especially regularly. They're sad when they don't see you.
They remember your name and put it on the prayer roll if they see you having a bad day.

Just wanted to share that, in case you didn't know. Because before I was a temple worker, I had no idea either.

7 October 2017

I told my husband the Seventy currently serving as a sealer on our temple shift looks like Sam the Eagle. It was the hardest either of us has ever laughed in the temple.

22 October 2017

I've had to remind an alarming number of people that the Seventy serving on our shift is just a person. I'll never understand why we put leaders up on pedestals like this.

29 October 2017

The lengths people go to hide things in the temple is hilarious to me. But you don't have to do that. You can take water into a session with you. If your snack doesn't make noise and doesn't leave crumbs, no one can stop you from bringing it. You can have literally anything you need in the session, as long as you are discreet about it.

I'm also not sure where the notion started that being in a session is literally like being a hostage. But it's very incorrect.  You can ask to go to the bathroom and we pause the session. If you go at the clothing changes, no one even notices.

15 November 2017

My favorite thing to do on my temple shift is to wave at people who don't know me like they're my best friend. Confused faces are the best faces.

17 November 2017

You know what's worse than having someone at the temple engage you in a conversation you don't want to have about your infertility?

Remembering the time when, in some kind of bizarre attempt to be comforting, they say "there's always adoption. It's just too bad there are so many non-white babies."

I'm not going to be normal after this, am I?

19 January 2018

Realizing that I've been serving in the temple as an ordinance worker in the temple for two years. That's typically how long that calling is supposed to last. 

In our case, the assignment is open-ended. But I feel like it's time. Not just because I was given my fourth calling last Sunday, because that's a separate conversation. My service has been full and I am content with all I've accomplished.

I could keep going indefinitely. We've had older workers who have been serving for the upwards of 20+ years. But I'm in a different season of my life. This wasn't going to last forever.

I've been forever changed by my service. I feel like this is the right time for me to step back into the role of a patron. It may not be what the temple needs. But it's what I need. Heavenly Father showing me the difference, to me, is what confirmation looks like.

Opening Ourselves to Empathy with LGBTQ+ Members of the Church

I've been holding this experience I had in the temple in my heart until I feel like I have the language to share it the best way I can. Today, I feel like I can make the attempt.

Many of you know that I serve as an ordinance worker in the Boise Idaho temple. When I was set apart, I was promised the veil would be parted to me through my service.

We use this phrase a lot in the church, and it means a lot of different things. What I thought it meant at the time and in that context was experiences with the deceased people we are serving. The way I can most easily relate this thought to someone not familiar with our beliefs is that Mormons believe in angels, and that we can see them. They look like regular people and we interact with them without knowing it. And sometimes they're even our deceased family members. We believe this is fully possible in the temples we attend, and we talk about it as the veil between heaven and Earth being parted. That's why I understood it this way.

In that sense, I've never had this experience. Apart from a really vague sense of joy that someone has finally had their vicarious ordinance work done on their behalf, that's the full extent of what I've had in terms of interactions with the dead. 

Mormons also believe that every person, no matter how terrible they might act, has a divine nature. The scriptures call it the "inward man." And most of us do what we do to access that inner goodness, and see it more clearly in those around us. We also refer to glimpses of this divine nature as parting the veil. How we see someone falls away and we can finally see them as God sees them. In this sense, I rely on this constantly in my service. It's slowly making me a better person.

This happened between me and a temple patron one day, as it sometimes does. But what was different about it was how clearly I saw her, and how much I felt what she was feeling.

I received clearly into my and heart her feelings. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, I was given to know that she was strugglingand I do mean strugglingwith same-sex attraction. Whether as a lesbian or bisexual person, I couldn't say. But please know that why I'm using SSA as a descriptor. 

Imagine if perfect empathy with another person was somehow possible. As I performed the ordinances on her behalf, that was what I had with her.

I felt a gut wrenching loneliness I don't know how to put into words. However lonely you have ever felt, magnify it. The only anguish I have to compare it to from my own life was the day I admitted to myself that I was raped.

I felt the anguish of her body as it ached for connection to the women around her, both sexual and platonic. The shame and fear that also accompanied that feeling. The fear of losing control of herself, of acting on what she was feeling, because it was completely overwhelming all of her senses. And I felt it. I felt it all, and was completely overwhelmed by it.

She wanted someone, anyone, to see her, know her, and love her. She wanted someone to reach out to her and tell her it was going to be okay.

I wanted so much to speak to her. But I couldn't find the words in that moment. I'd never considered so literally how my LGBTQ+ brothers, sisters, and siblings feel. And even if I had asked, they couldn't give me this experience. God had to do that.    

All I could do was put my hand on her shoulder. I never do that. At one point, I looked her in the eye. I don't know how she understood that, but I hope she saw in me someone who sees her and loves her as she is.

She left and the veil closed on those feelings. I prayed for that woman like I've never prayed for anyone else in the temple, not even myself. If it were up to me, I would have rained down every imaginable happiness upon her without any thought of restraint.

If you could feel, for only a moment, how LGBTQ+ people feel, you would know it isn't an act. It isn't a deception. It isn't a ploy for power or political control. It isn't a desire to be evil.

I don't know where sexuality and gender dysphoria fits into God's plan for his children. I just don't know, and I try very hard not to pretend to certainty I don't have about someone else's life. But I will tell you what I do know.

My LGBTQ+ friends and family members are precious to me. I love them unconditionally. I want to see them happy. Whatever that looks like to them is how I can and should support them. They deserve that from me. 

And I know, because I've felt it fill my entire soul, that God loves ALL of his children. He loves them without failure or reservation. He loves them where they are, including through their experiences with their sexual orientation and gender identity. God doesn't love his LGBTQ+ children any less. In fact, the only thing more overwhelming than this woman's attraction that I have ever felt was his unconditional love for her. It is the holiest experience I've ever had in the temple.

So I'm leaving you with a question to think about, study, ponder, and pray about. And I hope you will. Because it has changed my life forever. 

If you could see LGBTQ+ people how God sees them, how would it change you? How would it change the way you think and speak about them? 

Healing Political Divisions Through Temple Worship

We had stake conference this weekend. The topic was the blessings of temple attendance. The context is the new Meridian temple has caused attendance in Boise to drop off a cliff, across all days and times. Sessions are canceled daily, if not multiple times day.

Many of the messages addressed the idea that attending the temple will diminish the power of evil in our lives. Nothing all that unusual there. Lots of emphasis on Malachi, "lest I smite the earth with a curse" language. For Mormons, Malachi is about as fire and brimstone as we get. Nothing unusual there either.

But then, a member of the stake presidency gave his talk. He equated the curse in Malachi with "the political division in our country," and I nearly had a heart attack. It was one of those moments where I find myself thinking "I don't know where you're going with this, but I will walk out if you get crazy."

He went on at length about Russians buying Facebook ads to create international conflict between different groups of people. I'm not sure how, but he tied this back to the temple and said that attending the temple is how we will heal the divisions he's talking about.

I don't know what I expected to happen. I live in the most progressive section of Boise, so they honestly know better than to take political sides in a church meeting. But I'm also trying to parse out exactly what he was getting at because it wasn't entirely clear. Was this a warning that the political contention we're currently experiencing is being manufactured, at least in part, by outside agents? Because even though that's probably true, it's by no means the dominant source of that division.

As a progressive person of faith, the source of that division for me is the blatant, deliberate abuse of power against the disadvantaged by a narrow conservative majority. That is not something you can pawn off on the Russians. But I thought seriously about what he was trying to say, and it occurred to me that his feelings and mine may not actually be that dissimilar.

Was he, as a conservative person, trying to address the toxic ignorance on which many of those actions and policies rest? The more I thought about it, the more sense that made. I know this man and like him pretty well. I don't think he was making thinly veiled statements against progressives as the source of all evil in the world, which is what I was afraid of.

Instead, I think he was trying to address that fear and suspicion itself.

The more I think about it, the more I believe it was a caution about the narratives we choose to believe about people, regardless of what our persuasions are. And the idea that the temple can heal that spirit of suspicion and fear, that it can heal the relationships damaged by forces at work in society, that is an interesting proposition. Taken in view of other counsel they offered, to spend less time on things that don't matter so we have more time to worship in the temple, that thought is really compelling.

Imagine if people watching pundits on the news, or sharing toxic messages on Facebook, spent that time at the temple instead?

And even myself, as much as I try to only share accurate information about stories that truly matter. How many times have I needed peace because of the unfair world we live in, and not found it out here anywhere?

The more I thought about his remarks, the more I realized he was doing something I no longer thought was possible. A conservative person was using his moral authority to undo some of this damage, instead of denying it exists or passing it off on someone else. He also made me confront my own learned defensiveness, and to think about how I need to create space in my own mind for conservative people not to be villains, to contribute to this healing we all need so much.

My husband and I are not politically similar at all. He didn't vote for Trump, but the fallout in Congress and society at large has still directly affected our ability to talk to each other in a serious way. But this talk in stake conference shifted something in each of us, and we were able to talk about having a real political common ground for the first time in over a year. It was like a wall had finally come down. I can't describe what that meant to me.

I can trust conservative people to care as much about what matters to me as I do. I can trust them to respond to suffering with a desire to help and make a difference. Getting past this animosity matters to all of us, not just to me. Conservative people want that reconciliation. And yes, I'll be honest that I didn't believe this anymore. But I'm seeing now that this lack of trust is something I need to change if the conversations around me are ever going to.

If my conservative friends and church family are finding strength and clarity to change, to imagine people differently because of the temple, I can join them in doing the same. 

Performing Temple Baptisms During Menstruation

A letter was just issued to temple and stake leadership from the female general presidencies. The purpose of the letter is to instruct that excluding temple patrons from proxy baptism because of their menstrual cycle is "inappropriate."

Image courtesy of: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It said temple workers, leaders, and parents are not to inquire if youth patrons are menstruating. They are not to exclude them from performing baptisms. It clarifies that whether they participate in baptisms, confirmations, or chooses to observe only, no one is to question or pressure them to serve differently than they want to do.

It asks local leadership to review these items with parents. While it's frustrating we have to say this,, I'm glad we are saying it to people who need to be corrected.

The letter was dated 8 September 2017, and I would invite you to discuss it with your local temple matron if you have any questions.

When I was in Young Women, I always seemed to be on my cycle when we had group trips to the Washington DC temple. It was really hard for me. My tender little heart was afraid it kept happening because I wasn't worthy, or God didn't want me there. Nothing could have been further from the truth. And I don't want anyone to feel this way, especially not my little sisters in Young Women. They deserve better.

So if anyone has ever made you feel unworthy to serve in the temple because of your menstrual cycle, even if the person was you, please know you haven't done anything wrong. And if you see or hear youth leaders or temple workers doing this, please be brave and tell them to stop. Have conversations about it with the youth in your family. Make sure they haven't misunderstood or internalized negative messages about their bodies and temple worship. 

Reading this letter today, it took me back more than a decade to feelings in my life I never should have had. And it warmed my heart to see the institution I love trying to stretch itself to do better.

Rearrangements for the Meridian Idaho Temple

So, here's what I decided to do about my callings dilemma. For those just joining, I was offered a third calling while up at girl's camp. I'm also taking on additional responsibilities at the temple because we're beginning to release all workers going to the Meridian Temple.

Image courtesy of: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Three callings and two temple shifts is not acceptable. It wasn't right for the bishopric to even ask me to do it. They only asked because they don't fully understand what they're asking from me. So I'm not going to do it.

Our transportation situation is such that it won't be easy for me to take an additional temple shift. But that is my priority right now. I realized I can go during Wednesday evenings with another temple worker in my ward. That would really be the ideal situation. Since that also means I wouldn't be available for Mutual anymore, that's the thing that needs to give way.

If they want me to take on a different set of responsibilities in the ward, they need to release me from the ones they've given me. And they can't afford to release me from my temple service. It wouldn't be wise for them to even try. The stake would reject it outright.

So that leaves my time in Young Women coming to an end. Which I admit, I've been feeling like that time has come. I want to help the bishop prepare people for temple service. He needs someone passionate and engaged to help him with this. The new calling he has in mind goes in that direction, but it doesn't go far enough. And I'm trying to think of the best way to explain it.

Just because someone is working on their family history doesn't mean they will automatically start going to the temple. Family history alone doesn't prepare people for temple worship or temple service. They're two separate sets of needs. I tried to point out this need for temple preparation classes in our ward months ago, when new workers should have been called. It takes at least 6 months to train new workers, and usually several weeks to recommend and call them. He didn't hear me then, and I'm afraid no one will listen to me now. 

It isn't fair to the people that will now have to learn under pressure. But this is the situation our temple district has created by not responding to the calls from the temple presidency. And who has to pay the price for that? All of us who serve in the temple, including me and my husband.

This is where I am needed. I can see that. And I have every confidence that the Lord will help the bishopric to see it too. 

Becoming the Change as a Temple Ordinance Worker

I'm an ordinance worker in the Boise Idaho temple. I wanted to share part of why I do this ever week. Because just like everything else about being LDS, being an ordinance worker is both difficult and deeply rewarding. It is both. Always. My desire to continue serving from my experience doing my father's temple work in the Mount Timpanogos temple in Utah.

My father and I were estranged. He was abusive and had a Molotov cocktail of addictions that were toxic to every person in his life. I removed him from my life when I was fifteen, before I ever knew about the Church. That did not change before his abrupt death in 2009. Our relationship had no stable ground on which to build a healthy reconciliation. It just wasn't possible.

When it came time to do his temple work, it wasn't an easy step for me to take, in my life or my faith. The heartbreak and anger I felt made forgiveness all but impossible. And the thought of taking his name to the temple was unbearable.

I've spent a lifetime reprogramming myself to understand that I'm not responsible for his actions, that his problems weren't mine to bear. Having to put myself through painful memories and complicated emotions to do temple ordinances just didn't seem fair to me. But I love my Savior, and I believe in his atonement. If anyone can fix my dad, it's Jesus Christ. I believed that with all of my heart and soul.

The cognitive dissonance was still confusing and frustrating. Why couldn't I just do what God wanted me to do? Why wasn't it easier? If God commands you to do something, he's supposed to make a way for you to accomplish it. And as far as I could tell, nothing had changed.

The year anniversary of his death was up in May 2010. I was a student at BYU. I spent several weeks mentally and spiritually preparing myself for what I was about to do. I asked my friends to come with me so I wouldn't be alone. The Provo temple was closed, we piled onto a bus with me and took the long, hot trip to the next closest temple in Mount Timpanogos.

I had hoped it would be a peaceful, meaningful experience for all of us. Instead, all hell broke loose. 

The issues began with my temple recommend. I'd gotten it in January, right as the year changed. The member of the bishopric had written the wrong date on it. Rather than creating a new one, he crossed out the last digit of the year, wrote the correct digit, and initialed it. It had never been an issue at the Provo Temple. But these workers at the Mount Timpanogos temple were not having it.

All of my friends had gone ahead of me and were already in the dressing room. I was stranded at the recommend desk while they called the temple recorder. He was on his way to a meeting, so they originally were going to turn me away and take my recommend away. I didn't know what to d and started to cry. I did the only thing I could do. I started to pray.

"Heavenly Father, I didn't come all this way for this. I can't do this right now!"

I don't know what suddenly changed, if they got my bishop on the phone. They let me in and didn't take my recommend away. I hoped that was going to be the worst of it. But it was only the beginning.

From the moment we walked into the baptistry, those ordinance workers did nothing but follow us around and criticize us. They were mean, unfriendly, and made one of the hardest days of my life that much more unpleasant. By the time we left the locker room, several of the girls that were with me were also in tears. It was the worst experience I've ever had in the temple.

They were so determined to get rid of us, they tried to rush me out of the font at the same time they did my father's baptism. I stood there, sopping wet and cold, and wouldn't budge. 

"That's my father's name," I told them again. They shrugged and proceeded.

In all of the chaos and emotion of that day, time finally stopped and stood still. The heaviest weight had been lifted. I was free.

I don't remember much of the confirmation or anything else. Just relief. He wasn't my problem anymore. It was all in God's hands now. The rest of that day felt like walking on clouds. I'd kept my promise to the Lord. I did what he asked me to do.


This was what God gave us temples for, to be freed from burden like mine. No one should have to go through anything like this when they go to the temple. I'm a temple worker because I want everyone who goes to the temple to have a good, uplifting experience. I want to give others what I didn't have in the moment when it mattered most to me.

I try to treat every assignment, no matter how small, like it could be the answer to someone's prayer. To show the love I wasn't given. That sad, miserable experience was wrong. But it has become the inspiration for so much good I have tried to do since then. Making good things happen out of inadequate materials has always been my special gift. That's still true in my temple service to this day.

Break Room Conversations as a Temple Worker

This past Friday, I was at the temple for my shift. And as you can imagine, I'm surrounded by older ladies there. I was in the break room with a woman who does veil scheduling. We got to talking about marriage and women who work because they asked if I do.

I said our transportation situation doesn't allow me to work, but I wish I could because I want to travel more and have my own money. And this sister, bless her heart, got all up in arms because I don't wait on my husband hand and foot, just because he works and I don't.

I do a lot of the housework exactly because I stay home. I can count the number of times my husband has used a toilet brush. But this sister took personal offense at the fact that I don't iron my husband's shirts and spread jam on his toast!

Being as tactful as I could, I said "I think you'd have a hard time convincing women in my generation to do that."

She looked right at me and said, "I just don't think it's right for a man to do the dishes after he works all day."

As someone who has spent hours cooking and doing dishes for meals my husband didn't even eat, I had to take a second, remember where I was.

"Some couples split cooking and dishes," I pointed out. "People in my generation realize this is simply a better way of doing things."

You'd have thought I had spit in her food, she was so disgusted with me. 

"That would never fly with my husband. I did all the cleaning AND worked."

I couldn't stop myself at this point. I just shrugged and said, "Well, I'm not his mother."

And that's the story of how this song became my new anthem.

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