First Time at the Temple

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“First Time at the Temple,” Ensign, Sept. 1998, 65–66

First Time at the Temple

In 1996, as senior missionaries assigned to the Canada Toronto East Mission, my husband and I shared many tender moments in the temple with our new members as they participated in baptisms for the dead. One such experience was especially meaningful for us as well as for the three people with whom we shared this day.

We had just completed the new-member discussions with Merna, a convert, and had explained the ordinance of baptism for the dead. She was greatly touched by the possibility of performing this ordinance in behalf of her daughter, who had died as a young mother.

A second convert, Janet, had enjoyed a loving friendship with her father, who had passed away several years earlier. She was looking forward to having this ordinance performed for him. Before our temple trip, she had completed her new-member discussions and had been planning to attend the temple with a group of Relief Society sisters. Unfortunately, two weeks before she was to attend, Janet gave in to a desire for cigarettes. After talking with her bishop she was encouraged to renew her goal to quit smoking. Janet had waited many weeks, but now she was finally ready to visit the temple with our group.

Our third convert, Clifton, had long since completed his new-member discussions, but because of long work hours, he had been unable to attend the temple. Then one Sunday he reported that he had been laid off work. Though unfortunate, his job loss opened a way for him to attend the temple. We asked him if he’d like to join us and participate as proxy for Janet’s father. He was so grateful to finally attend the temple and was especially pleased to share this sacred experience with Janet.

On the appointed day, we picked up our three excited new members. As we turned down the road leading to the temple, we saw its grand, white spire through the rosy mist of morning light. We entered the doors and presented our recommends. Janet and Merna received proxy cards for their loved ones. Soon the director of the baptistry appeared and asked if my husband would be willing to perform the baptisms. Those assigned in the baptistry had apparently been delayed. This was an unexpected blessing because my husband had never had the opportunity to serve in that capacity before.

One by one, Merna, Janet, and Clifton entered the font, where my husband waited. When Merna stepped into the font, we gathered around and watched as her daughter’s name was read and Merna was baptized in her behalf. When Clifton’s turn came, he stood as proxy for Janet’s father. She and I stood close together as her father’s name was read and Clifton was baptized for him. Other baptisms were performed; then the three changed to dry clothing and participated in confirmations for the same people.

With gratitude we left the baptistry greatly touched by the beauty of the experience. After, as we walked about the temple grounds and talked of the feelings of joy we had experienced that day in the temple, Merna shared with us a special answer to prayer. The night before, she had asked the missionaries if, by chance, my husband could perform the baptisms. They had responded, “We don’t know. Let’s pray about it.” When my husband was invited to help, her prayer was answered. We learned as missionaries that there are few coincidences but many tiny miracles as we serve the Lord.

Testimonies were strengthened, and three new converts knew that this was, indeed, the house of the Lord. And a couple of gray-haired missionaries experienced the joy of their missionary labors.