“Building with Ancestors,” Friend, Aug. 1998, 8
The Vernal Utah Temple is built largely within the walls of the former Vernal Utah Uintah Stake Tabernacle, constructed in 1907. Thus, one of the newest temples was built, in part, by faithful Saints long dead. In a happy mingling of the old and new, children of today joined their ancestors in raising a temple to the Lord. At the groundbreaking, President Gordon B. Hinckley invited children to help turn over the soil. He said, “Every boy and girl who lives in these stakes would take pride through the years to come if he or she, through a little sacrifice, were to make a contribution of a dollar or two … or five or ten toward the construction of a house of the Lord, and each time he or she passed it or came into this building, he or she could say, ‘I had a part in the building of that sacred and beautiful structure.’”
The boys and girls of the temple district listened to the prophet and contributed not only their dollars but their talents and hard work as well.
Some of the bricks in the tabernacle were damaged and needed to be replaced. N. J. Meacher, who is not a member of the Church, donated a beautiful old home whose bricks matched those of the tabernacle. Matt Foley was assigned to supervise tearing down the house and salvaging the bricks. His three grandsons, Greg (7), Corey (10), and Dallen (11), volunteered to help him. The bricks had to be removed one at a time and carefully cleaned and tested for strength. The Foleys, along with many other volunteers, were able to save sixteen thousand bricks, which are now in the temple walls and the walls enclosing the grounds.
When the temple was completed, Greg attended the open house. “The Spirit was so strong!” he said.
“I’m eager to go back to the temple when I’m twelve,” Dallen stated. “I can’t describe how good it feels to know that we actually helped to build a temple.”
Their cousin Corey agreed. “It was a great experience, preserving the bricks for a temple. It’s a very special building that will help people for a long time.”
Forty-two children from the Altamont Second Ward, Altamont Utah Stake, traveled fifty miles to Vernal to sing for visitors waiting in line at the temple open house. They sang “I Love to See the Temple,” “Families Can Be Together Forever,” “Reverence Is Love,” and “Eternal Things” to an appreciative audience. It was an act of service and love. Haylee Toland (11) said, “The temple is a spiritual, peaceful place, and I’m glad we could set the mood for people’s visits.”
The Primary girls of the Vernal Fifth Ward, Vernal Utah Ashley Stake, created a beautiful and original design for tissue box holders to be placed in the temple where needed. They stitched plastic canvas with white yarn, making sure that the boxes were perfect. They donated many hours to this gift for the house of the Lord.
The girls also tied a beautiful white baby quilt to be used for the baby crib in the temple nursery, where children wait to be sealed to their parents. Amy Lefevre said, “I’m happy and excited because I know I’m making something important and special for the temple.”
The ward Primary leaders also decided to use a penny bank to collect money for the temple. A counselor in the bishopric designed and built a bank that looked like the proposed temple, with a window in the bank so that the children could see their money grow. They donated $350, mostly in pennies, for their gift of love.
Brother Brownie Tomlinson helped to demolish the interior of the old tabernacle and excavate the ground under and around it. His sons, Russell (13) and Shawn (11), assisted by hauling bricks and stones and doing other jobs that were safe for boys their age. They donated long hours and worked hard to prepare the site. Brother Tomlinson noticed that as Shawn became covered with white dust, it looked as if an angel were working among them. Although Shawn can’t remember feeling like an angel, he reported that it felt good to help build the temple. “I got to thinking about all the people who would be married and sealed and baptized there, and it was really special to be part of it.”
The Valiants of the Naples First Ward Primary, Vernal Utah Uintah Stake, started something big when they decided to collect aluminum cans from their families, the bishop, and along the road. They gave the bishop $9.51 for the temple. After that, at an Achievement Day activity, the girls made it their goal to collect cans everywhere they could. They made arrangements with Western Park to collect cans each night after the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. Wearing old coats and surgical gloves, they crawled around under the bleachers and in the dumpsters at Western Park. They and their advisers worked from 10 P.M. to midnight for three nights.
Many ward members donated cans to the project, and in July, Primary children brought cans to a pioneer activity. The total donation was $80. Inspired by the children, the whole ward gave generously, donating enough to pay for three chandeliers, the furniture, and the carpeting in the celestial room. When Stephanie Romane (11) went to the open house, she was so overwhelmed with the beauty of the celestial room that she just stood in the doorway for a while. “Who would have thought that those cans could turn into this elegant room?” she said.