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 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 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 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.

The Provo Utah Temple

Provo Utah Temple Side ViewSo I’ve been going to the Provo temple my whole life. Up until the Mount Timpanogos Temple was built it was our assigned temple. And I think it is again for my parents. I did baptisms for the first time in Provo- way back around 27ish years ago.

Temple Hill was where my family gathered every year for the Fourth of July, where we’d watch the fireworks, play frisbee, and make good memories.

Ryan at Provo Temple

I still take my boys back there almost every year for the 4th. This year we’re missing it and I’m kind of sad about that.

I’ve brought my boys to this temple often just to walk around and it has become a family favorite. In fact it is my youngest son Ryan’s favorite temple.

Iphone taking photo of Provo Temple

On this particular visit we went with my dad and my sister, who was in town just like us for our brother’s wedding.

Like I said, we’ve been to the Provo Temple many times, but never have walked up on the grass on the back side. I wandered up there that evening and was greeted with such a beautiful and peaceful view. I (quietly) hollered down to my crew and told them to come join me. We sat there and watched the temple slowly light up as the sun set behind Utah lake off in the distance. It was one of those evenings you just don’t want to end.

Provo Utah Temple at dusk - rear viewGrowing up I loved the gold spire on the Provo temple. But I was so excited when, in 2003, they painted it white and added an Angel Moroni to the top. I thing is its the most beautiful thing to see him standing there, with the rugged Rock Canyon as a backdrop. And it just seems so fitting, as the temple is across the street from the MTC, and symbolizes the spreading of the gospel.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.”

Revelation 14:6

Provo Temple Looking UpAnd speaking of symbolism- let’s talk about the design of the Provo temple, which is a representation of the scripture in Isaiah 4:5-6 that says:

5. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense.

6. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.

How cool is that! Doesn’t it make you love it even more?!

Fountain at Provo TempleI’ve also heard it said that it looks like a fountain, as in The Fountain of all Righteousness.

Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

Ether 8:26

Provo Temple SpireDate Visited: April 29, 2017

Miles From Home: 815

Location: Provo, Utah

Dedication:  February 9, 1972 by Joseph Fielding Smith, but read by Harold B. Lee

From the Dedicatory Prayer: We look forward to the day, O our God, when thou wilt reveal unto thy servants where other temples shall be built in all the nations where thy saints increase in numbers and serve thee in righteousness. We know that all men are thy children, and we pray for the day when all who will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely and gain for themselves the fullness of the blessings that thou hast in store for all those who love and serve thee with all their hearts.


The Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple

Mount Timpanogos Temple _ Black and WhiteOf all the temples we have visited so far, this was my favorite visit. Why?

IMG_20170428_141233_284Because my baby brother got hitched!

We drove out to Utah for his wedding. It was a super quick trip. We left in the early evening on Wednesday and got home on Sunday. So we really only had two full days in Utah- one of which was filled with wedding festivities, and the other a few temple visits, a baby blessing, and lots of family time. We packed a lot into those two days, and it was such a fulfilling little trip.Mount Timpanogos Temple _ Looking Up

So my brother Matt is 15 years younger than me. He is a genius with music (have you heard of RKDN? If not, you will.), and also apparently with picking an eternal partner. I absolutely adore his new bride!

On the day of his wedding, in late April, it started snowing! It was a cold, windy, snowy day. But oh, so beautiful.Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple 2

With the exception of myself, all of my parents’ children have been sealed in the Mount Timpanogos Temple (Carey and I were sealed in Orlando). It is a special place for my family. We have done lots of work there through the years, and I’m sure I will return there many more times.

Mount Timpanogos Temple _ Angel Moroni

Date Visited: April 28, 2017

Miles From Home: 804

Location: American Fork, Utah

Dedication:   October 13–19, 1996 by Gordon B. Hinckley

From the Dedicatory Prayer: May it be a beacon of peace and a refuge to the troubled. May it be an holy sanctuary to those whose burdens are heavy and who seek Thy consoling comfort.


The Manti Utah Temple

img_1755The Manti Utah Temple is hands down my (Carrie’s) most favorite temple. I find it so beautiful. But that’s not it. There is a feeling there, on the grounds, of holiness and sacredness that of course is felt at other temples, but more so here for me than anywhere else.

Every time I visit, as I’m driving either to or from, my mind drifts off to Moroni wandering for all those years. How he walked through that area and actually dedicated the very spot of ground on which the temple is standing. I imagine him walking through the landscape, which may look now just like it did to him.

Brigham Young sent people to Manti to build the temple and knew the exact spot where it should be. Even though there was some argument among the saints at the time. He said “Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a Temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot..” 

The rock that was used to build the temple came from the Parry Brothers Stone Quarry. I’m distantly related to Edward Lloyd Parry, who was the master stone mason there. My mom’s side of the family are Parrys and hail from Wales. The Parry line that links to me stayed in Salt Lake, and in fact my 3rd great grandfather John Parry actually started the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

angel-moroni-on-manti-templeI love going to the Manti Pageant (or officially the Mormon Miracle Pageant) which is held on the temple grounds every summer. I’ve only been a handful of times, and honestly it is a little cheesy, but every time I go I eagerly await the moment when the Angel Moroni shows up on top of the temple. Truly one of my favorite moments! We took our boys to the pageant back in 2013 and they loved it as well. They still make fun of some of the lines in it, but would go back and watch it again in a heartbeat.

I love the Sanpete area and I love the Manti Temple. Looking forward our next visit!

Date Visited: Pre Blog and as often as possible

Location: Manti Utah

Miles from home: 894

Dedication: May 17, 1888 by Wilford Woodruff (Private), May 21-23, 1888 by Lorenzo Snow (Public), and June 14-16, 1985 by Gordon B. Hinckley (Rededication)

Cool tid-bit: At General Conference in October 1876, Brigham Young instructed various areas to build a temple. He said, “Go to work and build a Temple in Sanpete. As soon as you are ready to commence, I will provide the plan. The ground is already selected. We do not ask whether you are able to do this; but ask yourselves if you have faith sufficient to do it, for we know that you are perfectly able to do it if you are willing, and do it inside of three years from next April. Then to the people of Box Elder County, the Malad Valley, Cache Valley, Soda Springs, and Bear Lake Valley, Rich County, and the people on Bear River, I say, unite your labor and commence as soon as you can to build a Temple in Cache Valley. Again, to the people of Weber County, Davis County, Morgan and Summit Counties, Salt Lake County, Tooele and Utah Counties, with the people east and west, I will say, Go to work and finish the Temple in this city forthwith. Can you accomplish the work, you Latter-day Saints of these several counties? Yes, that is a question I can answer readily, you are perfectly able to do it, the question is, Have you the necessary faith? Have you sufficient of the Spirit of God in your hearts to enable you to say, Yes, by the help of God our Father, we will erect these buildings to his name.”