09 November 2013

The Temple


Last week there were extra temple workers on Friday and I didn't really have an assignment, so I was making up things to do. When I drifted through the baptistry, I could see the brethren were getting the font ready for baptisms and asked what was going on. They told me a brother had arrived with some family cards that needed baptisms. There were a few women's names and they asked if I wanted to help. So, I put on the overall and down into the font I went for three baptisms. Now it is official. I have done everything there is to do in the temple that can be done by a woman! 

The Temple Fills Me

In one short week, three people in three different conversations, used the same phrase: “The temple fills me!” The first was a young woman in her very early twenties who came to the temple for the first time only a couple of months ago. We needed some volunteers to help with sealings and so I asked in the dressing room if there was someone who would have time. She had just come from a session and immediately responded to my plea. I asked if she had ever done sealings before, and she indicated that she hadn’t. I helped her get ready and told her what to expect. We talked about her temple experiences up to that point and she said, “I have been looking for years for something that I was yearning for. When I came to the temple, I knew I had found it. The temple fills me in ways I cannot explain. I love coming to the temple.” At the end of the evening she thanked me for the opportunity to participate in sealings and said, “It just keeps getting better!” 

Another conversation was with a single woman, Hermana Villareal, who is a temple worker with me on Saturdays. She has been serving in the temple for a couple of years; however, she was still struggling to learn everything. I happened to be coordinating one day and needed some help at the end of a session. I asked her to come with me and she said that she had never, ever done that before and couldn’t possibly help. I asked if she knew all of the information and she replied in the affirmative, but added, “I get too nervous--I know I can’t do it.” I invited her to go to the office and get a card to carry with her, so that if she forgot, she could refer to the card. She carried the card, but never needed to look at it. She has been “free” ever since! Afterward, she proceeded to share some of the sweet experiences that she has had in the temple and ended with the comment, “The temple has changed my life--I am a different person. It fills me!”

The last woman is my coordinator on Saturday afternoons. She is a dynamo of energy and testimony and everyone loves working with her. She is single and because of financial restraints, lives with her daughter’s family. Hermana Vasquez shares a bedroom with their disabled child who has trouble sleeping and cries out and wanders around all night long. Most people would feel very sorry for themselves in this situation--especially when they have a long temple shift ahead of them the next day. She just smiles and expresses how grateful she is that she can love and support this little granddaughter. One afternoon, she shared with me that her Bishop had asked her to serve a mission. She said, “Oh, how I would love to serve a full-time mission for the Lord--but you need money to do that. I have no source of income to support me. Not only that, what would my daughter do without me to care for this child? Not only her, but so many in my family need me--but I guess if I was gone, they would find another way. But how could I not be in the temple for 18 months? It fills me--it fills me. It gives me the strength to go on. I just have to trust the Lord that he knows what is best for me; but oh, how I need the temple! 

Hastening the Work

I had an interesting conversation with a young bishop here, Bishop Santana, who recently set a goal with his ward council to baptize 30 people by the end of the year. At the time of the challenge, just a few weeks ago, the group had no one in a "teaching pool." The bishop, however, has led the way and has two families receiving the discussions at this point. At first, his ward council members were highly skeptical of his challenge, but he told them this story from his mission: 

Early in his mission, he was joined by a new-to-the-mission elder who had served as a mini-missionary in the mission where the now Bishop Santana's father was President. In the Bishops' mission, the average weekly number of gospel discussions being conducted was 4-6. The new elder, having come from his mini-mission, wondered why there were so few discussions being held. He challenged his companion (now Bishop Santana) to try and get a larger number of gospel discussions during the week. Together, they "made a prayerful covenant" to do 30 discussions a week during the following month. The other missionaries working in the immediate area scoffed at their goal, declaring it impossible. 

As the bishop related, he and his companion set out to find people to teach, not having anyone, really, at the time that was a prospect. They worked hard. By the end of the first week, they had done 18 discussions, but were still working toward a much higher goal. The other missionaries in the area took notice and began making the same kind of covenant to the work. The mission became so successful that church headquarters began to take notice and wondered how it was being achieved. 

Long story short, the bishop's testimony is that we first have to act in faith, make a covenant with the Lord to do something, work hard to do it, and he will help open the way for us. He said that people in his mission just came out of the woodwork, many approaching them without solicitation. 

So this was his testimony to his ward council as they knelt together. He said, "We may not make 30 baptisms, but at least we have made a covenant and have something specific to work toward." There are now 23 people in the teaching pool in that ward--and people are starting to "come out of the woodwork." One woman called a member of the ward council this week and said, "I can no longer wait for my husband nor my children. I have waited too long already. I need the gospel in my life and want to be baptized now." She was taught the gospel over two years ago, but only now is she ready. 

The father of this powerful, young Bishop is a faithful temple worker who works closely with me. He's a brilliant man, humble, grateful to be able to come to the temple. As with many members here, he has diabetes and is losing his eyesight, so doing some of the tasks required is a struggle, but I learn something from him every day. Great is the work!


The last three weeks have been completely consumed with farewell parties for the outgoing temple presidency--¡Oh, how the Mexicans love to party! We have learned much more than just how to "party" from these dedicated servants of the Lord. They have taught us diligence, patience, compassion, generosity, dependability, the importance of paying attention to the details, and the spiritual power that comes from enduring faithfully to the end. We love these wonderful "amigos!" 

L-R: The Calderon's (First Counselor), The Machuca's (President), The Jones' (Second Counselor)

President Machuca gives the oldest temple worker (86 years), Hermana Campa, an honorable release because of failing health. 

The best surprise of the night--A Mariachi band! What a show!!
The food at the farewells just kept coming: homemade corn tortillas, Arrachera steak, red and green salsas, Carnitas (pork), prickly-pear fruit, rice pudding, Zapote fruit sauce (amazing!), tamales, refried beans, black beans Veracruz style, fried plantains, chicharrón (fried pork fat) casserole, nopales (cactus) with shrimp, shredded beef, shrimp ajillo, fish in mole sauce, homemade corn tortillas, corn soup, and many more delicious things that we cannot even name.

Really--you should have been here!

The Newcomers

Our new Temple President and Matron are the Alvaradejo's. They are lovely people who bring a powerful spirit of peace to the work. We are grateful to be able to work with them. The First Counselor is Gustavo Cortez (a sealer and second time around as temple counselor). The Second Counselor is Juan Sergio Hernandez (also a sealer). They are dearly beloved by the people of Monterrey and by us.

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