Be of Good Cheer

I have been feeling frustrated with my lack of “cheer” this week.

We have been so busy that it seems like there’s just no time for Christmas. Like we need to squeeze it in on Monday before getting back to our to-do lists.

Last night I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. The rain is back here in Portland, which normally I don’t mind. In fact, I’m usually really fond of it. But the rain, the greyness all around me, the clouds blocking the stars, and the trees blocking the clouds, on top of feeling stuck in this valley that is surrounded by mountain passes that my minivan struggles with even the nicest weather and an endless list of things to be done has really had me feeling weighed down.

Last night I lay in my bed trying to find that peaceful place. I closed my eyes and pictured a big open field with a clear sky full of stars. As I enjoyed the peacefulness of my imagined scene, I thought about the shepherds standing in their fields watching over their flocks.

bible-video-nativity-shepherds-1398427-printWhat must it have been like to see the angel approach them? We know that they were frightened, but I think they must have been overcome with immense peace and awe when he spoke to them.

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Tidings of great joy.

Peace on earth.


All possible because of the birth of this baby boy.

I fell to sleep feeling a bit more peaceful and rose early this morning (Christmas Eve) for my scripture study.

I read one of my favorite passages in all of the scriptures, 3 Nephi chapter one.

The believers were about to be put to death unless the sign of Christ’s birth was given. Can you imagine that day approaching? Would you falter or doubt? It says that they became sorrowful, “lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.”

Keep in mind that many prophies and signs had already come to pass. But the big one, the day and night and day when there would be no darkness, had yet to come.

But behold, they did watch steadfastly… that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

I wonder how many people, on that last day, gave up. If the opposition just became too much for them.

I really feel like this is a reflection of where we are now. We have seen so many prophecies fulfilled and so many miracles. Yet still, at times, the opposition becomes so strong that many falter. Many wonder if their faith has been in vain.

Back to Nephi now, who was exceeding sorrowful because of the wickedness around him and the possible fate of the believers. So he prayed. All day he cried mightily to the Lord until he received possibly the most beautiful and hopeful passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon:

Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

The sign was given and the people were spared.

bible-video-wise-men-1398440-print (1)Not just the Nephites.

Aren’t we all recipients of this great gift? When the sign was given, isn’t it likely that all of us rejoiced?

nativity-scene-mary-joseph-baby-jesus-1326846-printWhen Mary laid the baby Jesus in the manger, does it make sense that we would have been anywhere else but there?

Could we have been in that heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men?

I think so. With no veil to separate us from the knowledge of who our Savior was, I don’t think we could have been kept from rejoicing.

And now, in our mortal state, having a better knowledge of how much we need him, how can we not be of good cheer?

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-printHe came to save us, and he brought with him joy and peace.

Things get hard sometimes. Like, overwhelmingly hard. We face pain and evil and temptation and incredible sorrow.

But we can take great comfort in our Lord.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.

In the world ye shall have tribulation:

but be of good cheer;

I have overcome the world.

The Logan Utah Temple

Logan Utah Temple Front View 1It must have been over 25 years ago that I first saw the Logan temple. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Utah Valley, but I didn’t make it over to Logan except for that one time. As I recall, my mom and I were driving my aunt to Utah State University for one reason or another.

I actually remember that trip quite vividly because of horses. I wasn’t really into horses like my other girls I knew. I still haven’t ridden one. But as we were driving to Logan, I was looking out the window on some grassland, the sun was shining through the clouds, and there I saw three horses galloping along in the rain. I was struck by the beauty of it. I don’t know why, but it stands out in my mind every time I think about Logan.

Logan Utah LDS TempleAnyway, as we drove into town, I was again struck by the beauty of the area. I wanted to live there, right then. Then as we were curving up a road toward campus, I saw the Logan Temple sitting up on that hill. It’s beauty and stature struck me, and I knew very strongly in that moment that it was a holy and powerful place.

Logan Temple - Looking UpFast forward almost three decades, and I was finally able to return to the Logan Temple, sitting up on that beautiful green hill. This time with my own children in tow.

We were in Logan so that my oldest, Michael, could go on a campus tour of USU. The timing of our trip was such that we could only be there on a day the temple was closed, but we were able to walk the grounds.

Logan Temple - SunshineThe Logan temple is the second temple completed in Utah, back in 1884. I’m still so in awe of what those early pioneers could accomplish. All volunteers, who had to support their families on top of building the temple over the course of seven years. There is a very detailed thesis about the history of the temple written by Melvin A. Larkin back in 1954. He writes about how after the temple site was dedicated, letters were sent to the bishops of the nearby wards requesting workers for the rock quarries. The letter, dated May 23, 1877 said:

Please send Monday next a thorough camping and quarrying
outfit for Green Canyon, with picks, shovels, crow bars, wedges,
etc. Say 4 good men, 1 team, 1 wagon also bring a no. 7 or 8
stove & furniture, one of your men bring a wife to cook for ten men.

Larkin goes on to say that on June 4, ten men and one woman showed up at the quarry and started working. The next day two more men showed up. They got to work immediately and within a week, rock was being hauled to the temple site.

I think that is the coolest. The church needed volunteers and they got to work.

Logan Temple Black and WhiteI think we would all be super willing to jump up and volunteer if we were called on today to build a temple or do some other grand thing. Then my mind goes to the small things that are sometimes harder to do than the grand gestures. Like our monthly assignment to clean the church building. Cleaning the bathroom stalls does not seem like a noble task, but could it be considered in some ways similar?

The Logan Utah TempleIn any case, our visit to the Logan Temple was wonderful. Carey couldn’t make it with us as he had to fly back to Oregon to work, so we’ll be back for sure.

Logan Temple Back View

Date Visited: July 30, 2017

Miles From Home: 726

Location: Logan Utah

Dedication:  May 17-19, 1884 by John Taylor; Rededicated March 13-15, 1979 by Spencer W. Kimball

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We ask thee to bless the nation in which we live and the rulers thereof, for we are persuaded, O Lord, that while great wickedness and corruption abound in all grades of society, that there are hundreds of thousands of honorable men who are desirous to do right and maintain the principles of freedom and the liberty of men, and who do not and cannot acquiesce in the measures taken by the thoughtless and uninformed, who seem to be desirous to injure Thy people, many of whom, however, through the circulation of misrepresentation and falsehood, do not comprehend the position which Thy people occupy, nor the principles by which they are governed. Enlighten their minds, we pray Thee, and lead them in the paths of life. Bless, we pray Thee, all the upright, the pure and virtuous who are seeking to maintain and sustain the glorious principles of freedom enunciated in the Constitution of the United States, and who are opposed to tyranny, misrule and oppression; and save this nation, O God, from the infamy, under guise of law, of being the spoliators and robbers of a virtuous, inoffensive and God-fearing people, in violation of their constitutional rights, and because they fear and reverence Thee and Thy laws but may this house be preserved unto us as a holy place wherein to worship Thee…

The Star Valley Wyoming Temple

The Star Valley Wyoming TempleI am a simple person. I like beauty. And light. And I’m not all that in to extremism or extravagance. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love the beauty of our temples. They are all so amazing and designed by the spirit and with love and honor for God.

Star Valley Wyoming LDS TempleThe Star Valley Wyoming Temple is the simplest temple that I have seen so far. Meaning that there aren’t a lot of extra things on or around it. Because of this, the stained glass in the spire stands out, as well as the natural beauty of the rolling hills behind the temple.

Star Valley Wyoming Temple 1It was immediately added to my list of favorites.

Star Valley Temple - Back ViewWe headed over to Star Valley after picking up the Meerdink boys from EFY at BYU Idaho- with a stop in Grand Teton National Park along the way. Unfortunately the other Carey had to fly back to Oregon for work, so he wasn’t able to join us for this one. That just means we get to come back!

American Flag at Star Valley Temple 1Driving down highway 89, we eagerly looked ahead anticipating the temple. It is still such a joy when I first see that spire. And this one was especially fulfilling, with the beautiful green hills as a backdrop.

Star Valley WY TempleWe walked around the temple grounds that evening, and then returned the next morning after attending church just a block away.

There is something really special about this area- Star Valley. It just feels like the temple is supposed to be there. It was prophesied way back when the valley was settled that there would be a temple there, and all just feels right. It’s so peaceful. I feel a little bit tempted to move to the valley once the kids are grown. But then, I haven’t experienced one of their winters yet.

Star Valley Wyoming Temple 9I remember when President Monson announced  the Star Valley Wyoming temple in the October 2011 General Conference. He had just announced the rebuilding of the Provo Tabernacle into a temple, as well as temples in South Africa and the Congo. Then he announced Star Valley and said, “I think I’ll dedicate that one, there’s good fishing up there!”

Angel Moroni - Star Valley Temple 4

The temple was dedicated just last year. President Monson was not able to dedicate it, but I’m sure his heart was there.

Everyone should visit this temple. It will touch your heart. I know I’ll return many times.Angel Moroni - Star Valley Temple _ Daytime

Date Visited: July 29, 2017

Miles From Home: 801

Location: Afton Wyoming

Dedication:  October 30, 2016 by David A. Bednar

From the Dedicatory Prayer: And may understanding, perspective, and peace distill upon all who come into the temple seeking inspired guidance to press forward in the challenges of life. We pray that Thy Holy Spirit will shine forth from this temple and bless all individuals, families, and communities in the entire temple district.

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.”

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.