09 September 2013

Elder Gutierres and Valle Verde Stake

Saturday: Elder Gutierres 

(John) Saturday, I spent the first five hours of the shift at the reception desk of the temple. On Saturdays, the front entrance is a very busy place. We have recently instituted a reservation system whereby unit leaders can reserve places for their youth to do baptisms at a particular time or attend endowment sessions. Consequently, the front desk has become the final clearing house for the various groups with reservations, with the job of ensuring groups are attended to, as well as freeing up surplus “fichas” or reservation tokens for those without a reservation. 

Among the people who came yesterday was a young prospective missionary named Elder Gutierres, who came to the temple with his parents and some other people without a reservation. Fortunately, we were able to accommodate them, and would have, anyway, because the elder was at the temple for the first time. Among the others with him were his “padriños”. The practice of naming “padriños” (godparents) for one’s newborn is an old practice in Mexico and in many other parts of the Catholic world. “Padrinos” have responsibility as sort of “back-up” parents to the newborn. Often, they provide an endowment or sort of financial and emotional guarantee to the child. What is unusual about Elder Gutierres’ situation is that all were members of the Church and all were eligible to go to the temple with him. Though I hadn’t seen any from the group in the temple before, it was obvious they were familiar with the temple.

What I noticed about the group was first, Elder Gutierres was an exceptional young man. Though young, he was gentle, sweet and loving to his parents and “padriños”. He was also very enthusiastic about his forthcoming mission to Guatemala. He has a sister currently serving in Honduras, with another year left in her mission. He acted like he had achieved a very important step in his life. Though similar reactions are common among those who come for the first time, for Elder Gutierres it seemed special beyond words. Second, I noticed an unbelievable unspoken love between the parents and the young man, the “padriños” and the young man, and the two couples themselves. I wanted to spend more time with them, because I could sense there was a very deep, longstanding commitment in the relationships. Just as with any group of people that we meet in life, the implicit strength or weakness of commitment to the group can be sensed. In this particular case, The love among them was almost tangible. 

I was fortunate enough to officiate in the endowment session for the group. When I walked into the room to start, a very strong, deep spiritual sense overwhelmed me and I began to weep. The feeling lasted mostly throughout the session for me. I was able to attend to the elder’s experience in the final part of the endowment ceremony and, once again received a strong witness as to the young man’s pending opportunity. It was a very special experience for me. It was obviously a very special experience for him and his loved ones.

Sunday: Valle Verde Stake Primary 

The activity with the Valle Verde Stake Primary began Saturday morning when three busloads of children (146 children between the ages of six and 12) arrived at the temple from an area of Monterrey about 45 minutes northwest of here. The Primary leaders in the stake had been preparing the children all year for this day when they would visit the temple, something Valle Verde Stake has done every year for the last six years. The children were all dressed in Sunday dress and many of them all in white. 

They began by gathering in the chapel in front of the temple to watch three videos related to families and temples. After each video, the Primary leaders led them in a discussion of what they had seen and why it matters to them and their families. Next, working in their ward groups, the children researched and then created posters depicting information about specific temples. 

Finally, they walked around the temple in small groups learning about some of the symbolism and the meaning of the words above the door: Holiness to the Lord, the house of the Lord. In front of the temple doors they all joined their voices in singing, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me," and then entered the temple waiting room. The President of the temple spoke briefly teaching them that if they are worthy, they will enter the temple when they are 12 for baptisms for the dead, at 18 or 19 to prepare to serve a mission, and then again when they are to be sealed to their spouse. 

The following day, Sunday, John and I were invited to attend their Primary Temple Fireside to share a brief message. The program began with a song and prayer, and then went immediately into a testimony meeting. Many children bore sweet testimonies and shared specific things they had learned that day about the temple. After about 30 minutes of testimonies, each ward had one or two children come to the front to explain their ward's temple poster. This was the truly impressive part! The children presented their information with poise and clarity--without a single note. The temples they discussed included Solomon's Temple, Salt Lake Temple, Mesa Temple, Nauvoo Temple, Mexico City Temple, Nephi's Temple and Monterrey Temple. These children have a clear understanding that temples have been part of the gospel since the very beginning of time and are to bless our lives. 

Without a doubt, we were the ones that were taught that night, not the children. If every Primary and/or family taught even half of what is being taught in Valle Verde, the world would be a very different place! 

Mexico City Temple
Temple of Nephi

Nauvoo Temple

Mesa, Arizona Temple

1 comment:

  1. This is so wonderful! And as I Primary worker, I wept as you described the children singing "If the Savior Stood Beside Me," a song for our program coming up in two weeks. This year for the sacrament meeting program, the other Primary chorister and I interviewed each child individually about the concepts taught in Sharing Time, and made the script of the program from their own words. I know what you mean by being taught by the children. What an inspiring and impactful Primary activity weekend. I am most impressed.