Showing posts with label Mount Timpanogos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mount Timpanogos. Show all posts

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.

Can I get a Witness?

This picture is worth a great deal to me--not because the quality of the picture is good, not because it was taken with the best camera, and not because it meets the standards that would make it a masterpiece in the world's eyes.

This picture is worth a lot to me because of what I was doing--the miracles that happened--the day it was taken. I wasn't trying to impress anyone. I was trying to preserve a very sacred memory, and used what I had available to me at the time--which was someone else's camera phone. I took one shot to be polite, sent the picture to my own phone, and that's the only picture I have from the day my father was baptized and confirmed into the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This picture is a memory to me, a record. It's a record of the miracles that took place that day. The distortion and imperfections on this image do not affect the quality of my feelings and memories for those miracles.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the imperfections we find in our scriptures, our histories, and even in the lives of our leadership throughout the ages--their flaws are a lot like the imperfections and distortions to this picture. Their imperfections no more change the fact that their words bear and direct the Holy Ghost than the distortions on this picture change whether it's still a picture of the temple.

In the Book of Mormon, the word imperfection occurs three times. Each verse contains insight and instruction for those who discredit the Book of Mormon because it isn't a perfect record, according to their mortal standards. The verses read as follows:

And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.
Mormon 8: 12
Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.
Mormon 9: 31
And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
Mormon 9: 33

The Book of Mormon and the prophets of God do not need to be perfect to be who they say they are. Those who mock and reject the word of God or His servants because they do not follow human standards for artistic mastery, historical validity, philosophical or political merit--or any other standard other than God's own--overestimates the value of those mortal standards. They pass a superficial, mortal judgment on something eternal and spiritually perfect. They assume themselves capable of understanding perfection well enough to pass that judgment.

This is why missionaries from the Church ask their investigators to pray to Heavenly Father to gain a witness of the Book of Mormon. God is the only one who can judge truth and perfection, and is the only one who can declare whether someone's words are true. He directs the Holy Ghost, who is the only one who can give those investigators that witness. We can choose to accept or reject that witness from God, but we cannot obtain it in any other way.

May we understand that our scriptures and the prophets who recorded them are not holy because they are perfect. They are holy because the Holy Ghost attends them. Jesus Christ is perfect, and we should never trade communing with Him personally for our own understanding. If we want to receive perfection we must receive His voice through His ordained words and His chosen servants.

I bear this in solemn witness to His name, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

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