Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rededication of the Ogden Utah Temple, A Testimony

This has been a great month so far. It began with a private tour of the new exhibit, "Foundations of Faith," at the Church History Library, which opened to the public recently. You can take the virtual tour here. Elder Steven E. (for Erastus) Snow, Church Historian and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is also the home teacher to Julianna H. Hewlett, our beloved mother and grandmother. He is always so attentive, the model home teacher if there ever were one. He made the offer to Julie for a private tour of the exhibit, and we were the lucky invitees.

Elder Steven E. Snow
Elder Snow and his staff welcomed us the same afternoon the general presidencies of the Church's auxiliary organizations were also there for a private tour. They told us the General Authorities had visited earlier in the day. We were escorted through many of the Library's back rooms, and several Church artifacts were shown to us. It was a thrill to hold in our hands the canes Brigham Young once used, the more famous one being the one he planted in the ground on the very spot where he declared, "Here we will build a temple to our Lord."

Among other objects we were shown was an original Book of Mormon and a valuable and rare gold pocket watch Joseph Smith gave to Eliza R. Snow, a watch so ornate and delicately crafted with floral designs that no one would mistake its owner had to be a woman.

We also handled other pages of the original manuscript from which Oliver Cowdery wrote the translation of The Book of Mormon as the words flowed from Joseph. Only about 25 percent of that original manuscript survived after it was recovered from the damp cornerstone of the Nauvoo House many years later. In the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, we read together: "I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he hath commanded them." (1 Nephi 3:7). These pages are carefully preserved in protective coverings like the page on display in the exhibit on the main floor of the Library. It is possible to know and feel the truth without seeing and touching, but I can bear my witness that the more of our senses that are involved only heightens the almost electric and tangible witness one receives.

I asked Sister Snow, who was with us, what of all the things her husband has shown her in the Library are her most treasured memories. Without hesitation, and with some obvious emotion, her reply was, "The sacred manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon." Many years ago, when President Harold B. Lee was living, he provided a similar experience to us as his family, and I have never forgotten the feelings I had then of viewing and carefully touching those pages. My answer was the same as hers.

It was a supernal thrill to gently turn the pages of an original Wilford Woodruff journal (one of many he kept during his lifetime). It was amazing to see the exquisite penmanship and the intricate artwork he meticulously crafted within the pages of his journal. Seldom a day passed during his lifetime with the Prophet Joseph when he did not record an entry detailing what the Prophet had said that day. We are indebted to him as a Church for preserving the Prophet's teachings in his journal.

Last weekend, the second event of note this month was being in the first stake conference under the direction of our new stake presidency. They are inspired men of God, and they walk the talk. Our new stake president asked us to pray for missionary opportunities, and within forty-eight hours of doing so we were blessed with the chance to entertain a dear associate from Mexico with whom I am acquainted in my work. He came to our home for dinner, spent the night, and we had breakfast together with him before returning to the city.

Our home is filled with pictures of our family, and artwork reflecting our love of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's hard to avoid asking the obvious questions associated with those evidences of our faith. And Francisco asked. We shared our testimonies, we answered many questions, and toward the end of the evening Patsy remembered we had a Spanish language copy of The Book of Mormon that has resided in our home since son Steve returned from his mission to Mexico. We gave it to him, and encouraged him to read it. He said he would.

President Harold B. Lee (l),
President Joseph Fielding Smith (c),
President Nathan Eldon Tanner (r)
Today was the rededication of the Ogden Utah Temple. Here's a wonderful aerial video of the new temple. Forty-two years ago in January, 1972, we were present in the celestial room of the original Ogden Temple when it was dedicated. At the time, the First Presidency consisted of Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Nathan Eldon Tanner. We were in close proximity in those cloistered confines, and something unusual was happening during the proceedings. There was a large chandelier in the celestial room that was slowly rotating with the air circulating from the HVAC system. The crystal droplets in the chandelier were causing shadows from the TV lights, and those shadows would cross the faces of the speakers at the podium. It was noticeable to all in attendance in the celestial room and an obvious distraction. However, when all three members of the First Presidency spoke their faces were so luminous there were no shadows whatsoever. Instead, their faces were bathed in a light that overcame the shadows, a fitting symbol to me.

Newly rededicated Ogden Utah Temple
My father captured that day  and the subsequent power of the dedication of the sister temple in Provo, Utah, a few weeks later in his biography about President Lee in these words:

"Following the closing session President Lee's eldest grandson, David Goates, telephoned his grandfather to tell him of his unusual experience. David, his wife, Patsy, and his mother, Helen, all reported having seen a brilliant light at the pulpit whenever the First Presidency members stood to speak in the celestial room of the temple. The light, however, did not envelop the other speakers.

"Three weeks later the companion temple in Provo, Utah, was dedicated. Because of more Church buildings on the campus of nearby Brigham Young University, linked by closed circuit television, an estimated thirty-five thousand or more were in attendance for each of the sessions.

Ogden Utah Temple, 1972
"As at the Ogden Temple dedication, President Lee was the concluding speaker, after which he gave the dedicatory prayer and led the Hosanna Shout. In his sermon, President Lee was impressed to speak of some personal spiritual experiences which unmistakably indicated the nearness to those on the other side of the veil. Elder Alvin R. Dyer testified later that he had seen the deceased President David O. McKay there, along with others whom he couldn't identify. Sister Norma Anderson, wife of Elder Joseph Anderson, Assistant to the Twelve and long-time faithful secretary to the First Presidency, also saw her own mother. President Lee noted in his journal that he was watching the strange look on Sister Anderson's face as she was probably witnessing this visitation.

"Two BYU students seated in one of the large campus buildings told President Lee that many of the Saints were shedding tears when the prayer and the Hosanna Shout were delivered and also during the concluding anthem sung by the choir. The Holy Spirit visited these television-linked buildings with the same power as in the temple proper." (Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer, L. Brent Goates, 430).

Odgen Temple Celestial Room
Today, many stake centers in Utah were invited to be part of the dedication during three sessions. However, the broadcast into our stake center was fraught with technical glitches. It was analogous to my first experience where the distractions were obvious to all. Each time a different speaker was announced the video feed would be lost and only the audio was heard, and there were audible groans of disappointment from the audience. What was reminiscent of my experience in the original Ogden Temple dedication was that when President Monson was announced, the video feed cleared up and we had a perfect experience, both audio and video, with President Monson.

It may seem a small coincidence to some, but to me it was significant. You see, when the video feed kept failing, I offered a silent prayer that all would be privileged in the remote stake center where we were located to see and hear President Monson's remarks and his dedicatory prayer. And my little prayer was answered.

President Monson, Elder Kent Richards
When we concluded the Hosanna Shout and began singing "The Spirit of God," my heart was full to overflowing for the gratitude I feel to be living in a day when living prophets are among us and temples now dot the earth among every nation, kindred and tongue. The sun never sets on the temples of our God, an emblem of increasing light and truth as we share the fullness of the gospel with all who will embrace the invitation to come out of a troubling and ever-darker world around us. With this rededication of another temple, we take one step closer to the establishment of ZION in these last days, and the fight against evil continues as the wars and rumors of wars drone on in our ears.

Imagine a place on earth where one can go to find peace in this chaotic world. Imagine where one can go to have your family sealed together by priesthood authority for time and for all eternity. Imagine a place where a name of a loved one can be placed upon an altar in the temple, and the combined faith and prayers of thousands of faithful brothers and sisters can ascend to heaven on their behalf every day. Imagine knowing that all this is possible because there is a God in heaven, there is a Savior, Jesus Christ, who has redeemed all mankind from sin and death upon conditions of repentance and a Holy Ghost who testifies of these truths. Imagine that all you have just read is true and you can partake for the mere asking.

You don't have to imagine it at all, because it is my witness that it is true. And that's very real.


  1. always so beautiful.customer service is very well in this store.

    Flooded Basement Ogden

  2. We have a ward Facebook page I wanted to put a picture of the Ogden Temple as our cover photo. When I did a google search I found yours. Could I have permission to use it for that purpose?

    1. Not original with me, I found it a Google search too 😀