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The Ogden Temple is for Real

By Emily Milner

Ogden templeI went with my family to the Ogden Temple Open House today. We woke everyone up early, and they got ready quickly, for which I was grateful. We thwarted a potentially epic back seat car battle with Harry Potter recordings, and arrived only twenty minutes late for our appointment at 8:15, which is pretty darn good for my perpetually tardy clan. And I thought, as we drove, for this morning at least we did it. We got everyone in our family to the temple together.

When I sing “I Love to See the Temple,” I believe it. I love to see the temple. I love pointing out the temples as we drive along I-15. I see the temple and I feel lifted, reminded of my covenants and the Lord’s grace by the very sight of each building. I am grateful for the increase in temple building so my kids can have a chance to attend the open house before the temple is dedicated.

The line for the pre-tour movie moved quickly, but in the movie itself my 18-month-old was wiggly. I played with him and bounced him and did everything I could think of to keep him from wiggling. The images of temples and words of prophets flowed past me; I couldn’t really focus. But a line from Elder Holland caught my attention: that if we are in heaven without our families, it isn’t really heaven.

That feels true to me. It feels right. There is a deep sweetness I have experienced only in the temple, and only when there with family, a flavor of the Spirit I have never had elsewhere or under different circumstances. I felt it when I attended the Mount Timpanogos Temple dedication with my family just before my mission, when I was sealed to my husband, when I did initiatory for some family names (family names for the very first time!) with my mother and sisters.

I read an excellent post by annegb at Mormon Mentality some time ago. Go take a second to read it-it’s not long-and then come back here. She tells the story of deciding to have her parents’ temple work done and being sealed to them, and I will quote her last two lines:

Guys, temple work is for real. Yes, our church has warts, but we are on the right track when we seal families. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s true. I can’t say that about a lot of things, I say “I believe” which is just fine. This, I know.

The Ogden Temple is for real, too. As we entered the temple I wanted the flow of traffic to be slower, more contemplative. I wanted to soak it all in: the chandeliers, the stained glass, the art. There was a painting of a white-clad black woman kneeling in prayer that I could have stared at for hours, and a First Vision painting I had never seen before. But the line moved quickly, and every time I paused to show my three-year-old the pictures of Jesus, I got behind and had to catch up with my older kids. I wanted my little one to look, to see, to feel something besides the need to keep walking so that we didn’t get behind. I wanted that for my older children too, but I know that with them it’s better to let them decide what they focus on.

A volunteer in a cowboy hat took a picture of us sitting by the fountain, with the temple as background. Every single one of my children is squinting into the sun, blinded by the light.

There are a lot of lessons from this day: how easy it is to walk quickly past the sacred, how hard it is to stop and look and witness it, how difficult it can be to see light clearly when the brightness hurts.

But the thing I want to remember most of all is that we got there. We were there, together, bickering and lateness and wiggly toddler and all, and whatever challenges are ahead for my family, this fact is true. I hope that a taste of the Spirit there will be sweet enough to my children that they want to return. Over and over, to return.

Have you been to a temple open house recently? What has helped you prepare your children and family for this experience, and remember it better? Or tell me about some moment you had with your kids where you were able to see past the challenges and feel the sweetness of it.

About Emily Milner

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

23 thoughts on “The Ogden Temple is for Real”

  1. I went through a couple of weeks ago with my mother, my two oldest, and three of my nieces (their mom was home with a new baby). It was lovely–though I wasn't brave enough to bring my 2 yo, who stayed home with his grandpa.

    But I love that my kids got to see it, that they got to feel something different in the celestial room.

    On Sunday, I talked with my young women about temple marriages and was reminded–again–just how powerful the sealing power truly is.

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  2. So glad you were able to go. I echo that thought–that temple work is for real 🙂 If you ever run out of family names, I can always use your help with mine! Thanks for the great post.

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  3. Thanks for the reminder–I feel a little bad that I didn't take my kids to this open house. The last one I went to was the Oquirrh Mountain one and it was, frankly, not a great experience. My kids were only 6 and 3 years old, my (now ex-) husband came even though he didn't want to be there, we had to wait outside in a crowded hot line for over an hour, and the crowds were so great that we basically were jammed quickly through without a lot of time for quiet contemplation. However, I do have sweet memories of attending a few temple open houses when I was much younger, especially the San Diego temple and the Mount Timpanogos temple. There are two temples opening soon that are much closer to me, so I'm resolving now to prepare myself and my children so we can go and have a better experience. I have had enough powerful experiences in the temple to know that it really is God's house. His power and his love are there and I have felt them. That's why I keep going back.

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  4. I've never been to a temple open house (Australia has 5 temples for the entire country, and they are really spread out!) but still love to go and soak in the love of it.

    A couple of weeks ago I took my sons to our ward's youth baptism night, and ended up helping out with them. To be able to sit and look at my sons, all three of us together in the house of the Lord, was a beautiful, peaceful and "Woohoo! I'm doing kinda alright if we're all here!" moment.

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  5. This is so beautiful, Emily. Thank you. I treasure the times we've all been able to be together in the temple as a family. Yes, temple work is for real.

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  6. I went to Oquirrh Mountain too, Jessie. So proud of you for planning to go to more since you are close to them!

    The last two open houses I've gone to we were rushed through and they told us they would not be giving us a guided tour (no talking or information from the guide), we needed to not talk, and there would be no time for questions. Very awkward when bringing non-member friends. And at one of them, the refreshments mentioned on the invite? Tap water and one piece of hard candy (like peppermint or butterscotch). I'm a Mormon, and frankly, those aren't refreshments LOL.

    Kel, I am so glad you had a "doing alright" moment! You totally deserve it, because you are!

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  7. Wow. That annegb post was powerful. Thanks for the link to that.

    We went last week. My kids really enjoyed it. You helped me figure out what was missing for me — the time for quiet contemplation. But I love being with my family at the temple.

    Kel's experience reflects feelings I have had. There is nothing quite like being there with your kids doing the work. My kids are all now old enough to do baptisms and it is sweeter than sweet.

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  8. Sometimes I wish I could see past the challenges better to feel the sweetness of the temple. We move often and usually live very far from a temple, but even now when we live 5 kilometers from one, it's hard for me to go to a new temple in a new language and culture by myself, especially since I much prefer to do initiatories which take a lot of interaction to arrange. It takes going a lot of times to feel comfortable, but it's so hard to go those first times to get to that point.

    But almost every time after I've finally managed to get myself there and settled and doing initiatories, there is a brief moment of sweetness. I guess it's just barely enough to keep me going.

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  9. Enjoyed this post so much. Ogden is my temple, and I had a similar experience on my walk-through. I love your phrase, "a flavor of the Spirit." Thank you!

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  10. My family did temple yard work about a month ago. It wasn't until a few days later that I thought, tongue in cheek, "Hey, my whole family was at the temple together!" With an unbelieving spouse and daughter, that may be the best I ever get. We'll see.

    I do love going to the temple and the peace I feel there. I just did my first batch of indexing last week.

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  11. Yeah well, if Elder Holland is correct then I am going to hell for eternity since some of my family members have made other choices and did not want to go to the same place.

    Sorry, don't mean to be negative and glad you had a great time.

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  12. Naismith, I'm sorry. I wondered posting this if I should because I knew many people will have the same reaction you did, that this is not your experience, and that reading about my little moment would be painful. I didn't mean my post to be self-congratulatory so much as whew, after all my family has been through lately, we had this one good moment I want to celebrate.

    That is a big reason I linked to annegb's post, which may feel more authentic. If you read the comments she talks about some of the issues her parents had, and her point is that as messed up as things were, things she thought would never be healed, the sealing power of the temple healed her. I found it very real, and very hopeful.

    Blessings to you, and I am sorry for causing you and other readers pain on this. I felt like I needed to talk about it even though I knew it wouldn't be a good fit for everyone.

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  13. The first day of the Ogden temple open house this summer was the last full day we were going to be in Utah on vacation. Long story short, we ended up crashing the open house–in homemade dragon shirts and jeans–so NOT our usual style when it comes to anything temple related but I was just so happy to be there with my husband and children. Years ago we went to the Rexburg open house (in Sunday clothes) but that was before three of our children were born and many of the others were so young they either had no memory of it or their memories were hazy. My 18 yr old son seemed particularly impressed this time. Yes, the temple is for real. More and more I understand that–that almost everything we do in this life is temporal and won't last but what goes on in the temples can.

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  14. Just wanted to say thank you so much….and I'm sorry Naismith is hurting….I have been there.

    But EVERYTHING you said is so real to me and annegb’s post was a powerful addition.

    We have 4 daughters and my idea of the Celestial Kingdom is the day we are in the temple with all 4. We have been with 3, but what joy and rejoicing when the 4th joins us….and someday she will.

    And I can believe that because "the temple is real" and the gospel is real and "with all it's warts" the church is the vehicle for the gospel. And yes sometimes it hurts because we live in a very imperfect world. But we cant wait for the Celestial Kingdom experiences (of getting the 4th one there), we have to celebrate every little taste of the Spirit and every little step in the right direction…be it working on the temple grounds or walking hurriedly through an open house or a good Primary lesson we've taught when the last two didn't fly, or an entire ride in the car without a fist fight. Life is as real as the temple and we have to taste the joy.

    And I've only learned all the above after 60 years of not finding perfection or joy in quite the package I hoped. Thanks for a wonderful and very real post.

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  15. I remember going to the San Diego temple open house. There was a very organized group of people who worked hard against the LDS church for the fourteen years I lived there. They had a radio show, and they regularly picketed stake conferences, passing out fliers to the attendees. Of course they had a trailer set up across the street from the temple during the open house. We were in line behind some Catholic nuns, dressed in habits, who had accepted the group's brochures and fliers, and the sisters read them as we waited in line. Then, we all went into the temple and toured it, soaking in the unique atmosphere and the unique design.

    As we left the temple, the nuns walked right over to the Anti-trailer, handed back their literature, and said, (something like this)"You're wrong about this place. It IS a house of God. It's very spiritual in there. And they obviously believe in Jesus Christ; there are pictures of Him all through it. You should go see for yourselves." Seriously…they simply disagreed with all the negativity and told them so.

    I also love to see the temple. Everywhere we've lived, it has been a joyful landmark for the entire community. And, we've mostly lived where there weren't a lot of members. I love to see it, I love to go there. I love how the Spirit tells me that, despite all the people in my family who've rejected the Gospel, it is still true, it is still God's way, and He'll sort it all out in the end.

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  16. I know I can't speak for or to the specific experiences of people who have close family members who have chosen a different path, I did feel that annegb's post captured a truth and hope that the power of the temple transcends our mortal understanding and experience. That she could feel such reconciliation with her parents and deeply dysfunctional family relationships really took my breath away.

    I have no idea how the sealing power and mercy work. I know God can't override agency. But that experience and many others like it really feels right to something deep in me and makes me feel like there is a lot of hope out there and through these ordinances, where as we do what we can on this side of the veil, compensating blessings are being unfolded on the other side.

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  17. We lived in the Northwest many years ago when the Portland, Oregon temple was built. We had three young children and in the months leading up to the open house, there was a lot of discussion in our home and in Primary about the temple. Our youngest at the time was three years old and she kept saying to me, "Mom, I want to touch the temple." So the day we went to the open house, I brought her over to the side of the temple and she happily and reverently put out her little hand and touched it. Twenty years later, she was married in the Portland temple. I love to tell her this story and I always say, "You wanted to touch the temple and the temple touched you." Seven of our eight children have received their endowment and we talk often of our family reunion in the temple in two years when the youngest goes in preparation for his mission. Our temple covenants are the cement that binds us as an eternal family. Whatever choices family members make, keep up the hope in Christ that they are redeemable and in keeping your temple covenants, your bond with them will be eternal .

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  18. I am not a regular here, but my wife and I visited the Ogden temple open house two weeks ago while on vacation in Utah, the temple where we were married some 42 years ago, not long after it opened. I'd like to share my experience.

    I had mixed feelings at first, but I loved the almost art-deco motif of the windows and the gold upside down chandeliers (I don't know what else to call them) in the Celestial room. Some of the art was nice, such as the larger landscapes in a few places, but a lot also seemed to come right off the walls at Deseret Book. But I guess that with 140+ temples, not all of them can have the original artwork like you see in the Salt Lake and a few other older temples,

    But the painting you mentioned of the black pioneer woman just about broke my heart. I am trying to find out more about it. I am making the assumption that it is supposed to be Jane Manning James, an early black convert to the church. Her story is told in an Ensign article or two, or best by Margaret Blair Young of BYU, who has written about her extensively. For example, see part of her story here.. Briefly, James was a faithful LDS woman, who throughout her life sought the blessings of the temple, but was denied them during her life due to the priesthood/temple ban. Late in her life, she wrote to President John Taylor, signing her letter "Your sister in the gospel," and asking plaintively, "…is there no blessing for me?"

    The work for her has since been done, but that question "Is there no blessing for me?" immediately came to mind, and I thought, how appropriate that a painting of her now graces the Ogden temple, providing testimony that the blessings of the temple are indeed available to all who prepare themselves. It made the day for me.

    I was also being rushed towards the exit at the time, so I could not get the artists' name, but have since been trying to find out from the folks at the Temple department in Salt Lake. If I find that out, I will return here and share that information.

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  19. Beautiful post, Emily. Something "real" really happens in our temples. It's what makes our church "true" I think. I am spiritually refreshed weekly in the temple and though I can't say exactly how that works, it does. I almost always go alone. Just because my family isn't in perfect temple shape doesn't mean the power and blessings don't apply. All shall be well.

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  20. I'm the only active member of my family of origin, and I wonder often how it's all going to work itself out in the end, but I *know* this, Naismith dear–it will work out. God does not punish the faithful for the actions of the unfaithful when it comes to eternity, even if there are consequences in the here and now. I know how cold that comfort can be at times, but truly, it's also something I absolutely know. That God knows and loves me, and has a plan, and will *make things right*–and that He loves my family even more than I do, and is always working behind the scenes in their behalf, finding ways to touch and preserve them, even in their wandering. My heart hurts with you, and I send my love.

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  21. According to an article on the Ogden Standard Examiner website, the painting is a copy of a new painting in the Johannesburg, South Africa temple. I haven't been able to find any information about the artist however

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