Women's Conference 2015: The Blessings of the Temple, by Sally Zlotnick

by Sally Zlotnick
That musical number was beautiful. I really appreciate the spirit it brought.   I also want to tell the young women how beautiful their number was.  They truly are examples of the song they sang.  They love the temple.  They showed this as they performed in the Ogden Temple celebration earlier this year.

The young women in this stake are amazing, and they have a special place in my heart.  I was just telling the stake council last week that I love that frequently when I attend the temple I will run into one of the young women in our stake who are there performing baptisms.  They are truly amazing! They remind me of this quote by President Monson: "Now, my young friends who are in your teenage years, always have the temple in your sights. Do nothing which will keep you from entering its doors and partaking of the sacred and eternal blessings there."

I absolutely love to have my kids' friends come over to our house.  I feel like when they spend time in my home I get to know them so much better.  I feel more comfortable around them and consequently feel like I know my children’s friends better.  I feel the same way about visiting teaching.  When we get to go visit our sisters in their homes I feel like we know them better.  We feel a better connection to them.  We seem to know their likes and dislikes better.  I always feel like I know someone much better when I have been in their home or if they have been in mine.

As I recently thought about this, it made me realize that is one reason it is important to attend the temple.  The temple is the house of the Lord.  By attending the temple we are going into His house. We are getting to know Him better.  We will feel more comfortable with his commandments and his directions.  We will feel closer to the Lord.

I remember distinctly President Hunter saying in 1994: “It would please the Lord for every adult member to be worthy of—and to carry—a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.”
I find it interesting that the Lord truly prepares us, because at the time that this quote was given, we only had 45 operating temples in the church.  So many members didn’t live anywhere near a temple.  But the Lord was preparing us to be ready for the great announcement President Hinckley would make three-and-a-half years later.

He said: “Now, in conclusion I wish to make an announcement. As I have previously indicated, in recent months we have traveled far out among the membership of the Church. I have been with many who have very little of this world’s goods. But they have in their hearts a great burning faith concerning this latter-day work. They make tremendous sacrifices to visit the temples. They travel for days at a time in cheap buses and on old boats. They save their money and do without to make it all possible.

"They need nearby temples—small, beautiful, serviceable temples.

"Accordingly, I take this opportunity to announce to the entire Church a program to construct some 30 smaller temples immediately. They will be in Europe, in Asia, in Australia and Fiji, in Mexico and Central and South America and Africa, as well as in the United States and Canada. They will have all the necessary facilities to provide the ordinances of the Lord’s house.”

I remember this being such an exciting announcement.  People all over the world were going to have more opportunities to make sacred covenants for themselves and to be sealed together as eternal families.

George Q Cannon said: “Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God.”

Heavenly Father was truly blessing us with dotting the world with temples.  The world has gotten so much more wicked in the past 16 years, but the Lord has shown us mercy by allowing so many temples to be on the earth to combat Satan.  I also truly believe that the Lord knew that the work was going to hasten and we needed more temples on the earth to allow this to happen.  When I see all of the names that the youth prepare for the temple we need many, many temples to allow this temple work to happen.

What are the blessings of attending the temple?  Temples are a place of unity.  When we attend the temple we all look the same.  Rich and poor, fame and fortune are all put aside, and we are all there to worship the Lord.

It reminds me of an experience my parents had while living in China teaching English with the BYU Kennedy Center in 2007.  Before leaving for China my parents were instructed to not talk about the church at all.  At that time that was the instruction.  I don’t know what the instruction is like now. They were instructed that they would be attending a branch made up of members of the church from countries around the world, but there wouldn’t be any citizens from China in their branch.  The Chinese citizens who had joined the church outside of China and moved back to China would have their own branch and would not mix with the foreign branches.

The Chinese branch met right after my parents' branch.  They could smile and shake hands, but that is all of the interaction the government would allow them to have with each other.  My dad would always shake their hands and smile.  Then one day a very special thing happened to my dad.  He was attending the temple in Hong Kong (the church can be talked about in Hong Kong), and as my father was waiting for the session he felt a tap on his shoulder, and it was one of the members of the Chinese branch, and he reached out and just hugged and hugged my father.  The temple unified them even though government boundaries had separated them.  I’m thankful for the unifying power I feel with others as I attend the temple.

Another blessing of attending the temple is that temples are a place that we feel closer to our ancestors.  We perform vicarious covenants for those who have died before us.  We feel the love of our ancestors as we seek out our kindred dead.

Often in the temple I am reminded of my ancestor Margarita Unwin Clark.

My great-great-grandmother Margarita Unwin Clark joined the church after attending a street meeting in Nottingham, England.  She sailed from England to America to start her journey to Zion. She was assigned to travel across the plains in the Martin Handcart Company. We all know the terrible trials that company had to endure.  Margarita tells of the night that she lay down to sleep in Martin’s cove.  She was very cold, and she fell asleep between two women. When morning arrived the women on both sides of her had passed away.  She suffered, as did the entire company, many other terrible hardships, but she hung on to her beliefs and was later rescued by the rescue company that Brigham Young sent out.  She remembers being so excited and relieved to see the rescuers. When asked why did my grandmother and many others continue on in such terrible circumstances, her answer was that it was because of their beliefs in the covenants that they had made.

We also attend the temple to feel comfort.   President Packer said: “When members of the Church are troubled or when crucial decisions weigh heavily upon their minds, it is a common thing for them to go to the temple.

“The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs.”

I have found quote this to be very true.  Our stake attended trek in 2006 at Martin’s cove.  I was blessed with the opportunity of being a ma on this trek.  The stake had asked us all to attend a session together at the Ogden temple.  We felt a direct answer to prayer as we all stood to leave and move to the ordinance room and the organist started playing “Come, Come Ye Saints” on the organ.  We felt the Lord was telling us he was pleased with our offering.

However, usually when I attend the temple I don’t necessarily receive direct answers to my questions and problems.  But I always come away feeling more peace and love for my Savior.  I can know that at that time I am doing something he is pleased with.

One of the greatest reasons to attend the temple is to make and keep sacred covenants.  These covenants will bind and strengthen us.

On this exact day 10 years ago I received a phone call from my sister, and she said, “Quickly, turn on the news.”  I was horrified as I turned on the TV to see that one of my best friends at BYU, Kimball Herrod, had been in a tragic accident and had lost his life.  I had spent countless hours with Kimball, and I was overcome with sadness.  My thoughts quickly turned to his young family.  How would they go on?

The accident was horrible.  While Catherine and Kimball Herrod and their young children,were driving home from a family dinner, a double wheel from a semi truck flew across the median and hit the driver’s side of the family van. Kimball, the driver, was severely injured and unconscious. Catherine somehow guided the car to the shoulder and called for emergency help.

I recently listened to Catherine on the Mormon channel.  She said while she watched the paramedics work on her husband and two older children, she sat in a police car with her two little ones on her lap and prayed vocally, “Heavenly Father, we know that Thou hast the power to heal Kimball if it is Thy will, but if not, we have faith that somehow Thou wilt sustain us through this.” Kimball was life-flighted to the hospital, where he passed away.

Catherine was taken to the hospital to say her final earthly goodbye to her husband. As difficult as it was, she declared to her parents, who were with her, “I know that Kimball and I are sealed by our temple covenants, and we will be together again someday.” She also stood at the funeral and bore this testimony.  In the most terrible trial of her life, her covenants sustained her.

I will never forget this moment at the funeral.  The funeral was huge!  The entire stake center was packed with people.  As we joined in the closing song, we all heard above the crowd the voice of the five-year-old son, loudly singing, “Families Can Be Together Forever.” Tears streamed down our faces as we realized that a child had been taught of the sealing covenants that would bind him to his father and mother for eternity.

Because of temples our families truly can be together forever.  I am so grateful to live on the earth at a time when temples literally dot the earth. I am thankful to live in an area where within an hour I can be at many temples.  I am thankful that I have made covenants there and I pray that I can keep them and be together with the ones I love for eternity.

I’m so thankful that the Lord allows us to visit His house.  May we always remember His love for us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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