The Sacramento California Temple

Angel Moroni - In the Trees landscapeThe Sacramento Temple was our 28th temple. At the time of this writing, there are 201 temples either operating, under construction, or announced. So we’ve visited about 14%. We have a long way to go, and the list is just going to get longer (which is awesome!).

Sacramento Temple Front NarrowSo why all the nerdy numbers?

If you’ve read my other temple posts, you know that I am prone to rave about the beauty of each temple and to carry on about the grounds. Sometimes maybe it gets redundant, but it’s all true, so what else can I say?

Anyway, the Sacramento California temple grounds take the cake. My favorite so far. And I think it will take a lot to surpass them. They are truly incredible. Immediately around the temple are gorgeous flowers and trees and kind of the usual stuff, but beyond that, it is set in on acres and acres of park land, full of oak trees.

Sacramento Temple Grounds (2)

It also sits atop a hill, where at the bottom you are greeted with stunning landscaping, both natural and planned.

Sacramento Temple Grounds EntranceI love that anyone can go and enjoy the beauty – member of the church or not.

Sacramento Temple East Side ViewWhile we were there, on a busy day, there were many patrons going in and out of the temple, and many more people picnicking in the park around it.

Angel Moroni atop Sacramento TempleAnd one more thing… Turkeys!

The Sacramento Temple has wild turkeys on its grounds!

Sacramento Temple SidebarDate Visited: March 30, 2018

Miles From Home: 595

Location: Rancho Cordova, California

Dedication:  September 3, 2006 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We pray for this nation of which we are citizens, that the liberties and freedoms of the people may be preserved, that righteousness may reign, and peace may prevail. Take from our hearts all bitterness and hatred, and end the conflicts which rage in many quarters.

Advertisements

The Space Between

When Alma was counseling his son Corianton, he spoke about the space between death and resurrection. This “space between” was of great interest to Alma, and of great concern to Corianton. It is something that has always interested me as well.

Sunset at Half Moon BayThe very idea of this “space between” is evidence of our faith that life continues after death. This is not a new concept and is referred to in various ways throughout the scriptures. In John 14, Christ talks about preparing a place for us in his father’s house. Verses 1-2 say: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

We also read in Peter that after Christ’s death, he went and preached to the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 4:6 says: For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. And in Corinthians we read: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?

This paints a clear picture to me that our spirits continue on after this life.

Levels - Ogden TempleWhen we go to the temple, we go for one (or two or all three) of these reasons: For the living, for the dead, or for comfort/guidance.

Ordinances of the temple are absolutely crucial. President Nelson has said that we cannot return to God’s glory without them. Ordinances of the temple provide for reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever. In the temple, we make covenants that allow us eventually return to God’s presence.

It is easy to look at those covenants we make as constraining or as a burden. But by keeping covenants we lose nothing of value. Think about it- what do we lose by staying morally clean? What do we lose by serving others or mourning with those who mourn? What do we lose by withholding judgment or avoiding light mindedness? Nothing of value is lost in this, and in fact, so much more is gained. President Nelson said that “Keeping a covenant is not constraining, but enabling. It elevates us beyond limits of our own perspective and power…”

Boys at Half Moon BaySo if these ordinances are absolutely crucial, and we are to be judged according to the flesh, what about those who have not received them?

In Moses 1:39, the whole purpose of God’s work is given. Is says, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-printIt is through the atonement of Jesus Christ that this, bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,  is accomplished.

Immortality is free. Unconditional. It is a free gift to all mankind because of Christ’s resurrection.

Eternal life, or exaltation and life with God and our family, is available through our obedience to the covenants made and ordinances received in the temple. So when we go through the temple for the Living, for ourselves, and keep our covenants, we are taking hold of that purpose -the eternal life of man.

Circling back to the atonement of Christ – to atone means to suffer the penalty of sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him to be reconciled (or to coexist in harmony) to God. We, a fallen people, cannot save ourselves. Christ, who was perfect and worthy, was the only one who could to it for us. Through the atonement, we can become clean. We are able to repent of our sins and be forgiven. We can also be comforted in all of our trials, and so much more that I can’t even understand.

We rely on Jesus Christ to become worthy to enter the temple, where we receive the ordinances that allow us to be exalted.

This atonement was infinite, covering everything (sins, pain, heartache, etc.) and everyone (good, evil, nice, not nice).

Every soul.

It makes no sense for such an infinite atonement to only be allotted to those lucky few who find and accept it in mortality. And this is where the second purpose of temples, for the dead, comes into play. It is also where we return to that “space between” that Alma spoke of.

As I mentioned earlier, as written in Peter, after Christ’s atonement and death he ministered to those in the spirit world.

Grouse Mountain Light WalkDoctrine and Covenants section 138 is a record of an amazing vision given to Joseph F. Smith in 1918. In it, President Smith saw the saints assembled in the spirit world waiting for Christ to come and declare their redemption from the bands of death, which he did, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful. Verse 19 says: And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.

But that said he was among the saints. He didn’t go among the wicked.

President Smith wondered about that, how on earth Christ had spent about three years ministering and teaching, and yet, as it says in verses 26-27, “notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands. But his ministry among those who were dead was limited to the brief time intervening between the crucifixion and resurrection. And I wondered at the words of Peter, wherein he said that the son of God preached unto the spirits in prison, who sometimes were disobedient..”

I was wondering the same thing. He basically had three days to teach everybody. Not really possible. But the Lord had/has a great system:

We learn later in the same section of the Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord “organized his forces and appointed messengers” to carry the gospel to those who were in darkness, “even to all the spirits of men; [small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful] and thus was the gospel preached to the dead,” those who had died in their sins, with or without a knowledge of the truth.

And what were they taught? The principles and ordinances of the gospel. Verses 33-34 say: These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Those who receive this message in that “space between,” can do a lot of things. They still have agency- they can choose to accept or reject the gospel. If they accept it, they can repent, and through the atonement of Jesus Christ become worthy to receive the ordinances that qualify them for exaltation.

Elder Cook said that every soul, living or dead, who is accountable for their actions, need the blessings of these sacred ordinances, and we can help our family members receive them. As church members, we have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby. The ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children.

But they cannot save themselves.

We are commanded be like the Savior as much as possible. Most of us have that righteous desire to become like him, but since we are mortal, we fall short. 

In performing temple work for our dead, I believe we become closest to the Savior than any other way. Just like Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and made eternal life possible for us (because we couldn’t), we help make possible the blessings of the temple, and therefore exaltation, for those we do the work for (because they can’t).

If we believe this is true, that our work can be accepted by those we love on the other side, then we can gain a better, deeper understanding and appreciation for Christ’s atonement for us, which we can accept or reject. Repeating President Nelson, “Ordinances of the temple provide for reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever.” Just like the atonement reconciles us to God, so do the ordinances of the temple. We can help our families access that.

D&C 128:15 says: And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers – that they without us cannot be made perfect – neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”

Service in their behalf provides an opportunity for our continued temple worship, and as no unclean thing can dwell with God, we rely on the atonement of Christ to make us clean and worthy to enter the temple. This leads to a lifetime of worthiness for us. Through us, they are saved, and through them, we remain worthy to be saved.

The “Spirit of Elijah” is the Holy Ghost prompting us to search out our families who are waiting in the space between death and resurrection.

Malachi 4:4-5 says: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

In Moroni’s four visits to Joseph Smith, he repeats this, saying, “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at is coming.”

Utterly wasted.

Remember that God’s work and glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. If our hearts are not turned to our fathers, and their work is not done, what a waste this whole thing would be. Again, they cannot do it without us.

Teton ValleyObadiah 1:21 says: And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”

Doctrine and Covenants 103 also mentions being saviors.

“For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.”

Our purpose here is pretty clear here.

The Rexburg Idaho Temple 16x9Joseph Smith wondered: “But what is the object of [the coming of Elijah]? or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion. But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples … and going forth and receiving all the ordinances … in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead…; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”

It is all connected in such a beautiful way!

God’s purpose.

The atonement of Christ.

Our covenants and ordinances.

Those waiting in the “space between.”

And it all culminates in the temple.

The Fresno California Temple

Angel Moroni - Fresno TempleWe stopped by the Fresno Temple on our Spring Break trip to California. It was unexpectedly closed because they were tarring the parking lot, so we just walked around outside of the gates, tiptoeing around the fresh tar.

Fresno Temple EntranceIn spite of the parking lot situation, it was a lovely visit. The Fresno Temple sits in a quiet neighborhood next to a park. It’s one of the small temples, virtually identical to the Spokane and Medford temples that we have been to. So small, that I think it is smaller than the church building that it shares a parking lot with.Fresno Temple Gate

As with all temples, the grounds were lush and beautiful, with some fresh spring blossoms popping up on the trees. Fresno Temple Grounds

It was dedicated in 2000, which was kind of a big year for temple building. President Hinckley had recently (in 1997) announced the smaller temple concept, and temples were popping up all over the place.

Blossoms at the Fresno TempleThere were 31 temples dedicated that year, with Fresno being the 10th. Amazing to think about!Fresno Temple Spire - Soft White

Date Visited: March 29, 2018

Miles From Home: 737

Location: Fresno, California

Dedication:  April 9, 2000 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer:  We thank Thee for this nation of which we are a part. We are grateful for the Constitution under which it functions. May the precious liberties guaranteed thereunder ever assure freedom of worship to Thy people. To Thee be the honor and the praise and the glory now and forever more, and to Thy Son, our Redeemer, likewise praise and honor and glory. Smile with favor upon us and let Thy blessings attend us as we look to Thee in faith and appreciation…

The Oakland California Temple

Oakland TempleThe Oakland Temple is as beautiful as it looks in photos. Moreso, even. I had long dreamed of visiting this unique temple- ever since I saw pictures of it when I was a kid. It did not disappoint. (As if a temple ever could!) In fact, it was breathtaking when we drove around the corner and I saw those spires. Even while under an extensive renovation, it’s beauty surpasses expectation. I really look forward to visiting it again when the renovation is complete.. a year or so from now.

Oakland - OilWe stopped by the grounds on our drive from Portland to Monterey, giving us some much needed time out of our van. Though the temple is closed, the grounds and the Visitor’s Center are still open, so we got to explore a little.

Oakland Temple Visitors Center ChristusThere are only a handful of temple visitor’s centers around the world – I think maybe 11 or 12. We’ve got one here in Portland, and we’ve been to the visitor’s centers at the Idaho Falls Temple and in Salt Lake City. Each is unique but brings the same feeling and serves the same purpose. But the visitor’s center at the Oakland Temple is my favorite so far.

It has this amazing view of the bay and San Francisco, which can be seen through a giant, full-wall window inside, as well as from other areas outside. There was a room where we watched stories about missionaries, where the front wall was covered with missionary tags from all over the world.

TulipIn the areas not blocked off for construction, the grounds of the temple were full of flowers and palm trees. I am still amazed each time I experience it at the spirit and peace that can be felt just by walking the temple grounds. Even here, where it was closed and had many areas fenced off, the spirit of peace was felt. How cool is it that anybody can go and feel that! You don’t have to be inside to know it’s a special place.Oakland Temple Spires with Palm Tree

Date Visited: March 25, 2018

Miles From Home: 627

Location: Oakland, California

Dedication:  November 17, 1964 by David O. McKay

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We are grateful for this land of America, “choice above all other lands.” The freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States which guarantees to every man the right to worship Thee in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience, made possible the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. O Father, may the American people not forget Thee! Help us to see the greatness of this country. We express gratitude for the right of the people to resort to the ballot, and for freedom to meet in legislative halls to settle problems and disputes without fear or coercion of dictators, secret police, or slave camps. Help people everywhere to sense more clearly that government exists for the protection of the individual—not the individual for the government.

The Meridian Idaho Temple (Open House)

We are lucky enough to live a half day’s drive from the Meridian Idaho Temple and were able to attend the open house last October. I had been anticipating the open house for a couple of years, excited to take my boys.Meridian Temple

We zipped over Friday night and got up for the 11:00 tour on Saturday. I am so impressed with how organized these events are. We’ve also been to the Provo City Center Temple and the new MTC open houses, and they are all run so well. I so appreciate all of those who volunteered their time to make this happen. Meridian Idaho Temple Sunrise

The Meridian temple is amazing. And even better than enjoying its beauty was walking through with my children.

The exterior of the temple reminds me a little bit of the Cardston temple– a little more squatty on top. Inside, the beautiful dark woodwork and murals are incredible. Every detail is divine. Meridian Temple Looking Up

But, the temple grounds are what stood out to me the most on this visit. Even with thousands of other people visiting the open house, I could still appreciate the incredible landscaping. One of my favorite for sure! The expansive ponds, the vast green lawn, an old tree that must be original to the sight. All of it stunning. I don’t have a lot of photos because of the crowds, but trust me, these grounds are like no other.The Meridian Idaho Temple 1

I look forward to returning now that the temple is dedicated. How blessed we are to have so many temples in our midst!

Meridian Temple Open HousDate Visited: October 28, 2017

Miles From Home: 424

Location: Meridian, Idaho

Dedication:  November 19, 2017 by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

From the Dedicatory Prayer: Dearest Father, forgive us our many shortcomings. Strengthen our faith and fortify us against weakness. Give us power to resist the deceits of the adversary. May love for Thee and Thy Son grow in our hearts, and may it be expressed in our kindness and love to one another as Thy covenant sons and daughters.

 

But All Things Are Numbered Unto Me

Yesterday morning I was feeling pretty down. Really overwhelmed and a bit hopeless.

I became almost consumed with the current struggles of our family, and as I thought about reaching out to Heavenly Father in prayer, I felt almost ashamed.

Who am I to ask for help, I thought.

Yes,  I was struggling and yes, my troubles were feeling overwhelming. But they seemed so small compared to what other people are going through around the world.

My mind filled with images of fires, famines, people literally running out of water in South Africa, children being neglected, families falling apart, the homeless, the sick, wars, terrorism, etc., etc.

Who was I to ask for respite when so many others with so much more need were calling out to God for help?

I felt ashamed and very small. I felt that I was so far down God’s to-do list that I couldn’t even pray.

It was one of the worst feelings I’ve experienced.

I didn’t want to go to church but knew that I needed to. If for nothing else than to just go through the motions.

In Sunday School we studied the first couple chapters of Moses. I sat there, not paying much attention until a verse pricked at my soul.

Moses 1:35. God is teaching Moses about the creation. It says,

But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

Glacier National ParkAnd innumerable are they unto man, but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

My emptiness began to be filled at that very moment.

Yes, there are many here who need God. We all need God. So many, that man cannot count.

But God is not man.

And he knows each of his creations. He knows and cares about each of us, no matter how insignificant our problems might seem. If they are significant to us, they matter to him.

Maraine LakeI was reminded of a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2011 General Conference, in which he says:

The more we learn about the universe, the more we understand—at least in a small part—what Moses knew. The universe is so large, mysterious, and glorious that it is incomprehensible to the human mind. “Worlds without number have I created,” God said to Moses. The wonders of the night sky are a beautiful testimony of that truth.

There are few things that have filled me with such breathless awe as flying in the black of night across oceans and continents and looking out my cockpit window upon the infinite glory of millions of stars.

Astronomers have attempted to count the number of stars in the universe. One group of scientists estimates that the number of stars within range of our telescopes is 10 times greater than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts.

This conclusion has a striking similarity to the declaration of the ancient prophet Enoch: “Were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations.”

Given the vastness of God’s creations, it’s no wonder the great King Benjamin counseled his people to “always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness.”

But even though man is nothing, it fills me with wonder and awe to think that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”

And while we may look at the vast expanse of the universe and say, “What is man in comparison to the glory of creation?” God Himself said we are the reason He created the universe! His work and glory—the purpose for this magnificent universe—is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me. Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters.

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.

While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.

Steven in Lynn Canyon ParkI recognized that it was not anything from God that kept me from praying that morning. Satan wants to keep our connection to God as limited as possible. He knows that when we are in the depths of sorrow and humility, that is our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. So what does he do?

He makes us feel shame or guilt for wanting to reach out. He whispers in our ears that we are not important enough to God.

For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint…

2 Nephi 32:8-9

President Monson has said, “He who notes the fall of a sparrow surely hears the pleadings of our hearts.”

Mount Hood VistaGod is aware of us. Not only aware, he knows us. He loves us, each of us, personally.

All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

 

The Ogden Utah Temple

Ogden Utah Temple - Landscape 2The Ogden Temple was the last temple stop on our epic summer road trip. We visited the grounds on our way from Logan to Orem, where we would be visiting my parents for a few days.

I had never visited the Ogden Temple before its renovation. I wish I had- I just never really had reason to go to Ogden.

Flag at Ogden TempleWhen Carey and I started really falling in love with temples, we decided on a whim back in 2012 or so to swing by the Ogden temple on our trek to Orem. So we followed the directions and for some reason just could not find it. We drove around the block several times looking for the familiar lights of the temple before we realized that we were in the right place. There just wasn’t anything there. A green construction fence surrounded the grounds, and with it being dark, that was all we could see.

Ogden Temple - Corner View 2I admit that for years I just assumed that they knocked the whole thing down and started fresh. But in my research, I realized that the same basic structure was kept, only massively updated on the exterior.

Ogden Temple - East Entrance, LandscapeI wonder what it would have been like for the local residents to see their temple being taken apart piece by piece. I imagine it was a little bit hard to see. Of course, they knew it was going to be rebuilt, revitalized, and more beautiful than before. But seeing the Angel Moroni removed and the spire taken down would have definitely caused a little jab in my heart.

Levels - Ogden TempleSpeaking of Angel Moroni, the renovated Ogden Temple has the same statue that was removed before construction. Just a little bit reconditioned.

Ogden Temple - Northeast CornerWhen we visited, it was flipping hot outside. Like, really hot. We slowly walked the grounds as the bright sun blinded our sensitive Oregon eyes. The grounds are beautiful and so peaceful. I guess they call it the Ogden Temple Square, with an old tabernacle sitting on its grounds as well.

Ogden Temple - Southeast Corner 3It was a lovely and warm visit. I love that it is renewed. It is quite symbolic of how we can always change. Though our lives at times may seem stagnant or unclean, they can become revitalized and beautiful. Though we go through immense trials where we feel we are being taken apart at the seams, no worries. The core and foundation are still there, and we can be rebuilt stronger and more vibrant. That is the good news of the gospel!Ogden Temple Spire

Date Visited: July 31, 2017

Miles From Home: 738

Location: Ogden Utah

Dedication:  January 18-20, 1972 by Joseph Fielding Smith; Rededicated on September 21, 2014 by Thomas S. Monson

From the Dedicatory Prayer (1972): Wilt thou strengthen us in our desires to keep thy commandments and overcome the world, to be living witnesses of the truth and divinity of thy work, and to stand valiantly in bearing testimony of those things which we have received. We desire to bridle our passions, to control our appetites, and to rise above the lusts of the flesh and the evil and carnality that is everywhere to be found. We desire righteousness. We are thy people; pour out thy Spirit upon us.