This morning before Conference started, Brett headed out for a run. He told me to take good notes because he’d miss the first of it. I told him there would be several hymns and President Monson would talk about how the Church is moving forward. Brett said he only cared if they announced a temple in Tucson, but we both dismissed the idea as crazy. Neither of us felt Tucson was near that point.
Brett went for his run and came back during the middle of the opening hymn. He was sitting in the other room when President Monson was speaking. He spoke of the temples that were dedicated this past year and how many temples were now in use or planned and under construction. Then he said he was going to announce two new temples. Before he had finished announcing the location of the first I had loudly gasped, “WHAAA?!?!?!” causing Brett to miss what was said. He came in and, through misty eyes, I told Brett we were getting a temple here in Tucson. Within ten minutes one of his sisters and one of our friends had emailed us.
Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.
Doctrine & Covenants 87:8
How can we help the youth have more experiences with the temple and make where they stand a holy place? Our ward is assigned one day to take our youth to the Mesa temple each year. With a temple only two hours away, is once a year really enough? But the temple is too busy to allow us more scheduled time. Our hope was that with the dedication of the Gilbert and Phoenix temples that it might open it up for us to go to Mesa more often.
This past week, my adviser and I took two of our three Laurels to the Mesa temple on a week day afternoon. They had two weeks off for fall break so we were able to attend on a week day when the temple is not so busy. All told it was a seven hour trip. We drove for two hours each way. We spent an hour serving in the temple, an hour visiting the visitor’s center, and then time to eat before coming home. That trip is one of my favorite activities from this year. I thought of what a difference it would make in the homes here if the youth were at the temple more, the influence they would have on their friends and parents. Even with the time involved, we needed to find a way to make that happen.
And now we know there will soon be a day when we can take them to the temple in the afternoon after school. It will be a few years still for construction. In the mean time we will make the effort to get to Mesa as often as possible with them.
While the rest of the world is standing in awe of the announcement that followed that worthy young men who have graduated from high school can now serve missions at 18 and worthy young women who desire to serve can serve at 19, that was not as earth moving in our home as the announcement of the temple in Tucson was. Mexico is one of those countries President Monson talked about that have allowed missionary service at 18 for some time and I know young men serving at that age. It makes sense that if young men are given the Melchizedek priesthood at the age of 18 that they also be given the responsibility of that priesthood.
One of the reasons people have guessed for an older age for sister missionaries is that time needed to be given for them to get married if that was their wish, before they served. However we are not getting married as young as before, and sisters who have served as missionaries have a unique ability to raise a new generation of missionaries. My own preparation for a mission and following service, that began 13 years ago today, has affected my life and my ability to serve others now.
Temples and missionary service have gone together since the restoration.
And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants [the missionaries among them] may go forth from this house [the temple] armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;
And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days.
Doctrine & Covenants 109:22-23
The temple is a source of strength, hope, and morality in an ever degrading world. I welcome the announcement of any new temple on this earth. But I especially welcome the changes that will come to our town as a result of a temple in its midst.
Edit: This post was featured in the Bloggernacle at Deseret News.