The Rexburg Idaho Temple

Rexburg Idaho Temple 1It’s funny how I still get so excited to see the temple. Even here in Portland, seeing the temple, usually multiple times a week, still brings me feelings awe and gratitude and reverence. It is a testimony to me of the importance of it. The temple the House of the Lord. There is power there. I think the feelings we get, even from walking the grounds, are a tiny glimpse of what it will be like to live and walk with God. Peace, hope, gratitude, wonder, and a feeling of home.

The Rexburg Idaho Temple 16x9It was no different when we were approaching Rexburg Idaho and I saw the temple in the distance up on the hill. White and shining amid the golden wheat field, it was breathtaking.

Sunburst behind Rexburg Idaho TempleWe saw the Rexburg Temple for a few minutes when we dropped our boys off at BYU-I for EFY. Then zipped up to Canada for the week. The following Saturday we picked them up and headed straight over to the temple to walk the grounds and hear all about their experiences at EFY.

The story of the Rexburg Temple’s dedication tugs at my heart. President Hinckley was scheduled to dedicate the temple on February 3, 2008. Instead, on that day, Thomas S. Monson was set apart as the new president and prophet of the church. President Hinckley had passed away a week earlier. Oh how I loved, and still love, President Hinckley. I remember hearing about his passing that night. Carey and I just hugged each other and cried. He was prophet through major growing times in our lives, and like millions of others, I respected and loved him, and eagerly looked forward to hearing anything he said. Can you even fathom that we have the possibility to end up in the same place as him? And how much more fun it will be because he is there.

Rexburg Idaho Temple - Back ViewSo President Monson’s first official duty as the new president of the church was dedicating the Rexburg Idaho Temple a week after he was set apart. He had just buried a dear friend, and literally had the weight of the world on him. But of course he was up to the task, he had been serving his whole life.

Rexburg Temple 1I read an amazing quote here that was said by Elder Ronald J. Hammond at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Rexburg Temple in 2005. He said, “As the ground opens and as the shovel breaks it and turns it, your spiritual senses will know immediately that something very, very significant is happening. Something that at once disturbs the devil and blesses God’s children on both sides of the veil.” I would like to believe that that same thing happens with every new temple that is built. They are oh, so important!Rexburg Temple - Looking Up

Date Visited: July 29, 2017

Miles From Home: 740

Location: Rexburg Idaho

Dedication:  February 10, 2008 by Thomas S. Monson

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We thank Thee that since the restoration Thou hast never left Thy Church alone. From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Thou hast chosen and appointed a prophet to this people who has held and exercised all the keys of the everlasting priesthood for Thy children in the earth. We are grateful to Thee that the magnificent promise made in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple has been fulfilled in our time that Thy Church has come out of obscurity and shines before the world, “fair as the moon, and clear as the sun.”

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The Cardston Alberta Temple

Cardston Alberta Canada LDS TempleWhen planning our trip to Canada (just a few days before we left), we originally budgeted in just enough time to walk the grounds of the Cardston Alberta Temple on our road trip back down to Idaho to pick up our boys. But as we learned more about it, we knew that wouldn’t be enough. We had to go inside. And boy are we glad we did. This temple is truly amazing.Cardston Alberta Temple - Side Detail

The Cardston Temple was the first LDS temple built outside of the United States and sixth operating temple. It had such an amazing historical feel, and you could see the love that was put in to building it by those early Mormon settlers. Cardston Temple

I can’t even describe how cool it is when you walk inside. The fountain (that was originally outside) greets you when you walk in the door. And it just feels, almost like you’re walking in to Book of Mormon times. I can’t really explain it.Cardston Temple Courtyard

The endowment session is four stage progressive, which means that you pass through four different rooms before entering the Celestial Room. And goodness! Those rooms are beautiful. Each room’s walls are covered in amazing hand painted murals that were incredibly intricate and detailed. Being surrounded by these paintings added so much to the endowment for me. I absolutely loved it. The murals were actually replicated and put in the Provo City Center Temple.

After our session we headed down to the cafeteria for a quick lunch. While we were there, a gentleman came and sat at our table asking our names. Carey looked very familiar to him, and he asked his last name. Turns out he wasn’t related to who he thought he’d be- Meerdink is not a common surname there in Alberta. But my maiden name is fairly common: Orr. He told me that the Orr’s had settled a town about 40 miles from Cardston called Orrville. I couldn’t find it on a map, but it’s still good to know. My ancestors didn’t come through Canada, but I’m sure we’re all cousins.

Growing up and even to this day, if ever anyone asked my last name I would say “Orr, O-R-R.” Because nobody got it the first time, and nobody could spell it. I like to think that if I lived in Canada, I would just be able to say “Orr.”Cardston Temple 5

Anyway, the Cardston Temple has an information center- not to be confused with a visitor’s center. Do you know the difference? A visitor’s center is run by the church’s missionary department and is tasked with helping share and spread the gospel. An information center simply informs the visitor’s of the history of the area and temple. We met a wonderful couple who a great historical rundown in the few minutes that we had. Carey in front of Cardston Temple

After walking the grounds we hopped in our car for eight more hours of driving. Yes, our visit extended our day by quite a bit, but it was so worth it. I can’t imagine having missed out on such a wonderful place.Cardston Temple 11

Date Visited: July 28, 2017

Miles From Home: 722

Location: Cardston, Alberta, Canada

Dedication:   August 26-29, 1923 by Heber J. Grant; Then an addition was dedicated on July 2, 1962 by Hugh B. Brown; and a re-dedication on June 22-24, 1991 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer (1923): …we humbly beseech Thee that the people of this great nation and the people of the world may overcome selfishness and refrain from strife, contention, and all bitterness, and that they may grow and increase in the love of country, in loyalty and patriotism and in a determination to do what is right and just.

The Calgary Alberta Temple

Our trip to Alberta Canada was so wonderful. It was sort of a honeymoon- we didn’t get one 18 years ago. So after we dropped our boys off at EFY in Rexburg, we zipped up to Canada. I’ll include more about our trip in another post. Here, I’ll just tell you that the Calgary Temple is lovely.Calgary Alberta Canada LDS Temple

We walked the grounds before going inside to do some sealings. We entered the grounds through an iron gate, which framed the temple beautifully. Magpies sat on the roof, which was fun to see. I know it’s weird, but I’ve never seen birds sitting on any temple before. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention.Calgary Temple Staircase

Walking around to the south side of the temple, we went down a beautiful curving staircase into the courtyard. It is such a peaceful and beautiful area, and I was taken aback by the grandeur of the temple.Calgary Alberta Temple

I also was super surprised to see a rabbit! Or maybe it was a hare. Anyway- it was just relaxing on the grass. Apparently they are pretty common.Rabbit at Calgary Temple

We were able to do family sealings inside. I want to introduce you to a world traveler: Alice Emily Garretson, Carey’s Great-Grandmother. When working on our family history, we noticed that her work had been done for her in many places. She was baptized in the Perth Australia Temple, confirmed in the Provo Utah Temple, had her initiatories done in Recife Brazil, and her endowment completed in Guatemala. When we finally found her, we did her sealing to her husband here in Portland. When we discovered her parents not long before our trip, we knew we wanted to finish off her work at yet another temple, so she was sealed to her parents in Calgary Canada.  We don’t know much about Alice, but we feel like she would like this. We look forward to learning more about her. Calgary Temple - Black and White

We really liked the Calgary temple- the members were so nice, it was a beautiful setting, and just an overall wonderful feeling.Angel Moroni - Calgary Temple

Date Visited: July 26, 2017

Miles From Home: 790

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Dedication:  October 28, 2012 by Thomas S. Monson

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We ask Thee to bless all who walk in righteousness and faith and obedience to the commandments Thou hast given. Wilt thou provide comfort to them when they face adversity. Wilt Thou sustain and strengthen them when the winds of opposition blow against them. Wilt Thou bring joy and peace into their hearts and the assurance of Thy everlasting love.

 

The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple

The Idaho Falls temple is set in such a beautiful area. The grounds are lush and peaceful. From the falls nearby you can see the spire rising up. It’s gorgeous.Photo - Drawing of Idaho Falls Temple

We stopped by on a Sunday evening, at the end of a very long road trip. Unfortunately the grounds were closed, so we had to enjoy it from the outside. But that was easy to do. Idaho Falls Temple - Front View

Just down the road are the falls that Idaho Falls is named for. We walked along the pathway, and at the end was this perfect view of the spire above the falls. We took it all in before heading to our hotel.Meerdink Boys in front of Idaho Falls Temple

Well, it wasn’t quite enough for me. Knowing our time was extremely limited in Idaho Falls (the next morning we would drop our boys off at BYU-I for EFY, and then zip on up to Canada), I decided to wake up before sunrise and get one last glimpse of the temple.Through the gate - Idaho Falls Temple

So early Monday morning, I quietly tip-toed out of our room while everyone else was sleeping. I made my way to a river, where the temple sat across from me.

As I approached the bank of the river, I was looking across at the temple. It was so peaceful and quiet. And then, I slipped. I hadn’t noticed the mud in the grass, and I was down on my bum before I knew what was happening. It was a lot of mud. And I was wearing my brand new white pants! I quickly looked around to see if anybody had witnessed my epic fall, but I was alone. Good. Because that would have been really embarrassing. Sunburst - Idaho Falls Temple 2

I decided that while I was down, I’d get a shot or two of the temple. Then I very ungracefully got up and surveyed the damage. Mud all over my pants, and on my arms. I thought about going back to the hotel and considered letting it ruin my day. But I couldn’t.  I was immediately reminded of how blessed I was- to be there in Idaho Falls, to be on the trip we were on, and so many other ways. A little mud couldn’t ruin that.

I walked over to a rock on the river bank and sat down. Putting my feet in the water, I cleaned them off, and then my arms. The mud on my pants stayed- there wasn’t really anything I could do about that.

Then I watched the sun rise over the temple. The Angel Moroni seem to be calling to it.Moroni facing sunrise - Idaho Falls LDS Temple

As I sat there, I thought about the trials and blessings that the previous eight months had held. When Carey lost his job in December, we were devastated and comforted at the same time. There were so many tender mercies and blessing that got us through those eight months. And then, at 3pm the day before we left on this trip, Carey signed the paperwork and was now employed full time. Not only that, but we had clear direction of a path we wanted to take- not an easy one, and not a certain one. But, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt all of my anxiety over the future melt away. Hope rose within me as the sun rose that morning over the Idaho Falls Temple. God is in control. All we have to do is stay close to Him, and he will direct our paths. Idaho Falls Temple Sunrise 6

I stayed till the sun was up in the sky, and then made my way back to the hotel. On our way out of town, we stopped by the temple’s Visitor’s Center.Idaho Falls Temple - Lower Right Corner Set

There aren’t many visitors centers, so when you get a chance to stop by one- take it. This one had a huge window looking out at the temple.

The Idaho Falls Temple was the first one built in Idaho (and eighth over all). It took several years longer to build than expected because of World War 2. Once it was finished, it was the only temple in Idaho for almost 40 years when Boise was built. Now there are six either built or announced. Back in 1884 Wilford Woodruff said of the area, “Be not discouraged; be not disheartened, because God’s blessing is upon this land….as I look into the future of this great valley I can see temples—I can see beautiful temples erected to the name of the Living God where holy labors may be carried on in his name through generations to come.” Angel Moroni - Idaho Falls Idaho Temple

Date Visited: July 23 & 24, 2017

Miles From Home: 689

Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho

Dedication:  September 23-25, 1945 by George Albert Smith;

Rededicated: June 4, 2017 by Henry B. Eyring

From the Dedicatory Prayer (1945): Father, wilt Thou preserve Thy saints in the unity of the faith, in the way of truth, in the bonds of peace, and holiness of life. We pray that the weak may be strengthened and Thy Holy Spirit be imparted to all.

The Spokane Washington Temple

We stopped by the Spokane Washington Temple on our roadtrip from Yakima to Rexburg. It was a bit of a detour, but we were happy to visit our third and final temple (for now) in this state. Unfortunately we couldn’t walk the grounds inside the fence, or go inside, because it was Sunday. But it was still lovely to see.

Spokane LDS TempleIt was also really hot outside. Like, REALLY hot.

We stretched our legs a bit and walked around the perimeter of the fence. It’s so neat to me how just being near a temple can bring that familiar peace.

Spokane Temple - Corner View 1An interesting tidbit- the Angel Moroni on the Spokane Temple faces West, instead of the traditional east. Seattle Washington also faces west.

This temple reminded me a lot of the Medford Oregon temple- in fact, I think they are the same design. It is another one of the small temples designed to allow access to more people in more places.

Flag at Spokane TemplePresident Hinckley announced the idea of the smaller temples back in 1997 – 20 years ago. There’s a great article HERE that talks about these temples, and how President Hinckley wanted the faithful saints to have the opportunity to attend the temple without having to travel so far. What strikes me is the love he had for these people. He recognized their sacrifices and faith. He wanted them to enjoy the blessings of the temple more easily and more often.

By simplifying the design and getting rid of the unnecessary things like laundry, clothing rentals and cafeterias- things that many of us take for granted and maybe don’t even think about when we attend the temple, thousands of saints have been blessed. Including the people in Spokane.

Spokane TempleThe Spokane temple was announced less than a year after the original Small Temple announcement, and took only one year to build. I imagine that it was a time of rejoicing for the local saints, who at the time had to travel 4 hours to attend the temple in Seattle.

I’m so grateful for the inspiration of our leaders. And for our loving Heavenly Father who so desires to bless his children. These small temples are a perfect example of that love.Angel Moroni - Spokane Washington Temple

Date Visited: July 23, 2017

Miles From Home: 369

Location: Spokane, Washington

Dedication:  August 21-23, 1999 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer: Touch the hearts of the people in this temple district that the spirit of Elijah may rest upon them, that their hearts may turn to their fathers, and that they may be motivated to search out their forebears and do a great vicarious work in their behalf. May they experience the joy of totally unselfish service as they so labor, emulating the great vicarious sacrifice of our Redeemer.

 

 

The Columbia River Washington Temple

Purple Flowers_Columbia River Temple 16x9

There’s something special about the Columbia River Washington temple.

Columbia River Temple Wide ViewIt is one of the smaller temples, but the design and architecture make it stand out. And not just that- There’s a feeling there that it’s bigger.

Columbia River Temple Spire DetailI’m not describing it very well. The detailing on the roof line is amazing, the grounds are beautiful and so peaceful, and it just seems like the earth around it is rejoicing that it gets to be the spot where this temple was placed.

 

The exterior is amazing. But when I walked inside- even just barely inside the doors, it took my breath away. The beauty of the woodwork combined with the strong spirit was so inviting and I felt so lucky to be there with my family.

Meerdink Boys at Columbia River Temple 3We went on a warm summer day with our boys to do family baptisms. Being with my children in the temple is one of my favorite things. There is such a peace that we just can’t replicate- though we try- at home or out in the world. The temple president came to the baptistry to meet with us and gave us a little devotional, which made the experience all the more special.

Roof detail - columbia river templeI feel so spoiled to live where I live. The Portland temple is just a few miles from my door, and I can attend or visit any time I want. I grew up in Utah where there was always a temple nearby.

Window - Columbia River Temple 2

During law school was the first time I didn’t have easy access to a temple. When Carey and I wanted to attend, we needed to drive several hours, figure out childcare, and either stay overnight or make the long drive home the same day. Needless to say, we didn’t go very often.

So when I visited the Columbia River Temple, I just felt so excited for the members of the church in the area. No more commuting- even if it was just a couple of hours. It makes a huge difference. I’m so grateful for President Hinckley’s inspired idea to build these smaller temples, to make them more accessible to more people.

Columbia River Temple Angel MoroniDate Visited: July 22, 2017

Miles From Home: 222

Location: Richland, Washington

Dedication:  November 18, 2001 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We dedicate the grounds on which it stands with the surrounding shrubbery and trees, grass and flowers. May it be beautiful to Thy people and to all who shall look upon it. May all recognize that this is a consecrated and holy structure, Thy sacred house.

 

The Provo City Center Temple

Provo City Center Temple StatueI remember sitting at my kitchen table and crying as I watched the Provo Tabernacle burn. This was a special building to me. Growing up I attended several events there. And the spirit and history of it always tugged at my heartstrings. It just didn’t seem right to me that this could happen.

Fast forward to the October 2011 General Conference:

Cornerstone - Provo City Center TempleDo you remember that? Did your heart just explode when you heard the news like mine did?

As a side note, I just had to put this whole talk in by President Monson. He has been pretty weak for a while and it was good to remember his vibrant personality when I watched this.

The Provo City Center Temple is way up there on my list of favorites. To me its symbolism of rising from the ashes is just beautiful. Like it said in this video from the Mormon Newsroom- Saving what we thought was lost has enormous significance. It speaks to our deepest beliefs, that nothing is truly lost, and that all things can be made whole again.

Temple Grounds - Provo City Center TempleAs a family, we were able to hop over to Utah for its open house in 2016. This was the first temple open house for my children. I loved that they got to walk through it. It instantly became a special place for them as well.

Provo City Center Temple Looking UpOur most recent visit was the weekend of my brother’s wedding.

With us on this visit were my mom and dad, my sister, and my dear friend Kelly. I should do a whole separate blog post on Kelly. If you don’t know her, you’re missing out. She is the most genuine, loving, kind, fun person you could ever know. Here in this photo, you see Kelly with my mom and son. Kelly is in her element, kneeling at my mom’s wheelchair- talking and listening and loving and serving.

Family at Provo City Center Temple Grounds

We all met at the temple on this Saturday afternoon. There were so many people there. It seemed like half a dozen weddings were happening, a bunch of bridal photos, and just lots of people walking the grounds. Normally I like my space. But isn’t it great when so many people are at the temple? Everyone looked happy. It is truly a place of peace, inside and out.

The temple grounds are so gorgeous! The gardens were full of spring blooms and the trees were blossoming, it was just a perfect day.

Provo City Center Temple - Angel MoroniDate Visited: April 29, 2017

Miles From Home: 815

Location: Provo, Utah

Dedication:   March 20, 2016 by Dallin H. Oaks

From the Dedicatory Prayer: In this day of wickedness and selfishness, when men’s hearts fail them in turmoil and perplexities, we pray that Thou will blunt the powers of evil against Thy work and Thy children, and bless Thy covenant people with protection and strength to persist and stand fast in the works of righteousness.