On more than one occasion my companion, Elder Holbrook, and I were invited to her home to “hang out, listen to music, play guitar…,” which we respectifully declined. The truth was, we didn’t quite know what Lena’s intentions were at first. Missionaries learned to be weary of young girls who wanted to become fast friends. A possible distraction from the work at hand, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, among other things made us leary.
Temples have a special place in Latter-Day Saint theology. It is inside these sacred houses of the Lord where we participate in the sacred ordinences that help lead to salvation with God and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
I just found out that a friend of mine from Ukraine, Lena, went to the Temple for the first time. She lives in Florida and went to the Orlando Temple (left).
When I met Lena she was 17, learning English and wanted to come to America so badly. A teenage product of post-Soviet Ukraine, she was heavily influenced by Western pro-Democratic ideologies, along with MTV and such. She gave herself to the idea that America was one big party and that this is still a land where your dreams can be realized.
Her dream was to become a musician. A fan of hard rock and heavy metal, it was not uncommon to see Lena in a studded leather jacket and jeans with holes in the knees. It also wasn’t uncommon to find Lena hanging out a little bit longer after English class to talk and “hang out” with the Missionaries.
Yet, at the same time, she’d known about the Church for several years as she’d been taking English classes from us, and we didn’t want to rule out that she may be genuinely interested in learning from us.
Elder Holbrook was quick to pick up on intentions other than learning the message that we were teaching and we promptly turned her over to the Sister Missionaries in the area.
About one year after my return from Ukraine Lena informaed me that she had been baptised. It made me happy to know that I had not become a road block in her path to finding that truth, and that I may have helped in a small way. Hearing from her that she’s been to the Orlando Temple made me think of my own Temple experiences. I have had the priviledge of being in eight Temples. Not a huge number, considering there are 128 open Temples and another 12 either announced or under construction, but they are special to me. They are, in order of visit, Dallas, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jordan River, Utah; Provo, Utah; Ogden, Utah; Bountiful, Utah; Logan, Utah.
The Temple is a wonderful place. They are so beautiful on the inside, unlike any other buildings on Earth. If you’d like to learn more about why we have Temples, go here. If you’d like to find the LDS Temple closest to you and maybe take a trip to walk the grounds, go here. You may find that one is closer than you think.