Saints in the Shadow of Mount Timpanogos
December 1996

“Saints in the Shadow of Mount Timpanogos,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 69–70

Saints in the Shadow of Mount Timpanogos

John Rowe Moyle was a stonemason and farmer who lived in Alpine, Utah, in the latter part of the 19th century. During the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, a typical week for Brother Moyle consisted of farming and irrigating on Friday night and all day Saturday, attending Church meetings on Sunday, and arising early Monday morning to walk some 20 miles north of Alpine to work as a stonemason on the Salt Lake Temple. There he spent the remainder of the week until he walked home again on Friday.

Brother Moyle continued this schedule faithfully until, tending his farm one weekend, he was kicked while milking his cow. His leg was broken so badly that the only medical option of the day was to amputate and hope the wound would heal. Homebound while his leg healed, Brother Moyle carved himself a wooden leg. He attached the crude prosthesis and, according to family tradition, “walked into Salt Lake as was his custom to take up his work, for he had been called as a work missionary on the Temple. And there, the story goes, he climbed up the scaffolding on the east side of the Temple and carved ‘Holiness to the Lord’” (Gene A. Sessions, ed., “Biographies and Reminiscenses from the James Henry Moyle Collection,” typescript, 203, LDS Church Archives).

Such dedication to the temples of the Lord continues today in the valley from which Brother Moyle came. Now that the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple has opened in nearby American Fork, members from all over northern Utah County and adjacent Wasatch County are dedicating their time, talents, and hearts to this house of the Lord.

“Our service has changed from physical to spiritual,” says Brent Larsen of Highland, who serves as executive secretary of the temple open house committee. “The greatest service you can do is to do the work the temple is built for.”

As members in the 41 stakes of the new temple district are preparing for a temple in their midst, they are striving to be worthy to enter the temple so they can perform saving ordinances in behalf of their ancestors.

“Now our sacrifices are in time and in maintaining our worthiness to participate in temple ordinances,” says Daniel Adams of American Fork. For him, his wife, Karen, and their family, the new temple serves as a reminder of the gospel legacy left to them by their ancestors. In the fall of 1850, Daniel’s great-grandfather Arza Adams and Arza’s cousin Stephen Chipman were sent by President Brigham Young to what is now Provo, Utah. On their way they camped at what was called the American fork of a river that feeds into Utah Lake. Taken in by the beauty of the mountains on the east and the lake to the west, Arza’s son commented that the place would be a good site to settle. Upon Arza’s return to Salt Lake City, President Young gave him permission to take his family back to the American fork of the river and settle there.

Today, three and four generations later, many members of the Adams family still feel that American Fork is a good place to live. “When you walk the new temple grounds and see the mountains, you feel a deep appreciation for the things people have sacrificed for this area,” says Karen. Before Arza Adams came west, he could see the Nauvoo Temple site from his home. Now, with a temple being built in the valley Arza settled in Utah, his great-great-granddaughter Karene, the daughter of Daniel and Karen, feels the responsibility of maintaining her heritage. “I know who has come before me, and I feel the weight of what is in front of me,” Karene says. “God is trusting me with building part of his kingdom. We are all pioneers in a sense.”

When the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple was announced, President Steve Studdert of the Highland Utah East Stake says stake leaders decided to help members prepare for the new temple by focusing on “the fact that the temple is the house of the Lord, the Savior’s house. If we draw near to him, he will draw near to us.”

As he has helped members prepare for the blessings of having a temple in their midst, President Studdert has seen changes in people’s lives. “Some experiences have been so sacred it’s probably not appropriate to talk about them,” he says.

Larry and Lori Mendenhall of Highland feel deeply the blessings of the temple. When the couple was married, Lori was not a member of the Church. They were married in what was then the Hotel Utah—today the Joseph Smith Memorial Building—located across the street from the Salt Lake Temple. Lori told Larry at the time, “That’s as close as you’ll ever get me to the temple.” But 17 years later Lori knelt around the altar with Larry and two of their children to be sealed as a family in the Salt Lake Temple.

The road to the temple for this family was not easy. Though she had spent her teen years in predominantly Latter-day Saint Utah Valley, Lori says it took her a long time to accept that God lives and to eventually be baptized. “The wonderful thing about the temple,” Lori says, “is that it gives you the same agenda, the same goals. Life doesn’t become perfect—we still have our same struggles, our same personalities. But when I go to the temple, I feel the knowledge that Heavenly Father knows and understands and loves us.”

Thinking about when he was sealed to his family strikes an emotional chord in Larry. With tears in his eyes, he says it was the “single most significant experience of my life—going to be sealed to Lori, Emilee, and Jordan.”

The steeple of the new Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple is visible from the Mendenhalls’ front door, serving as a reminder for the whole family of the covenants they have made and hope to yet make. “Here is this edifice we can see—it’s something to enrich our lives and enable us to become true disciples of Jesus Christ,” Larry says. When his daughter Emilee, age 17, sees the temple, she remembers her goals. “It’s always a reminder, because when you see it, you just say, ‘I want to be married there someday.’”

Just as John Rowe Moyle and Arza Adams left a legacy of faith for those who would follow them in this valley, so are members in the valley today perpetuating an example of gospel dedication for generations to come.

Utah Valley scene

In this Utah Valley scene, Mount Timpanogos is located on the left. The new temple is located on the right. (Photo by Lisa Ann Jackson.)

  • Lisa Ann Jackson is a member of the College Second Ward, Orem Utah Student Stake.