To Touch an Angel

“To Touch an Angel,” Friend, June 2002, 4

To Touch an Angel

A true story

And help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining [angels] around thy throne, … singing Hosanna to God and the Lamb! (D&C 109:79).

“Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen.” Louisa was shouting as loudly as she could, but she couldn’t hear herself above the roar of forty thousand other Saints calling out the praises. Most of the Saints were excitedly waving white handkerchiefs; some were dabbing at tears rolling down their cheeks.

Just like Louisa, many of these people had waited their whole lives for this day. The building of the Salt Lake Temple was almost complete!

Families, dressed in their finest clothes, gathered to enjoy the moment. American flags draped the podium, where Joseph F. Smith had given a beautiful prayer. The Saints had watched carefully as President Wilford Woodruff pushed a button at the podium to swing the capstone onto the tallest spire. The capstone was the very last stone to go on the temple.

When the capstone was in place, the outside of the temple was finally finished. The crowd broke into beautiful song. Louisa was so thrilled and full of the Spirit that she had goose bumps.

She was proud of her papa and grandfather, who had spent many long, hard days hauling granite from the mountains to build this temple. She had never seen a more beautiful building.

“Get your handkerchiefs and wraps. It’s time to go,” Mama announced.

“Oh, Papa, please let me stay and watch what they do next,” Louisa pleaded.

“I will stay with you for a while longer, Louisa,” he said.

Most of the Saints left when Mama left, to get ready for their long trips back to their homes in Wyoming, Idaho, and southern Utah.

Louisa was glad that Papa let her stay. Even though she was only eight, she felt older and important. She was proud to have just been baptized into the Church that now had such a beautiful temple.

A few people stayed to fold flags and take down the podium. But Louisa was more interested in watching the workmen go back up onto the temple to place a huge statue of the angel Moroni. It took them a long time to get the large statue to the highest spire. “Do you think the angel Moroni could fall off the temple, Papa?”

“No, honey. The Lord has protected this temple for thirty-nine years. He will protect the angel, too.”

After the workmen finished placing the statue, Papa gathered his coat to leave for home. But Louisa saw a few people making their way to the corner of the temple. She tugged at Papa’s hand. “Oh, Papa, can we follow them?”

Silently Papa took Louisa’s hand and led her up to the temple. They followed the small group through the side door of the temple and up a corner staircase. At the top of the stairs, they went through a door onto the roof of the temple. Papa helped Louisa onto a wooden platform surrounding the spires. The platform was the scaffolding that the workmen had used when they built the spires. Louisa and Papa steadied themselves against it so that they wouldn’t fall.

Louisa couldn’t believe she was standing above the temple! The sun had just gone down, but it was still light enough to see the whole valley. Louisa could see for miles. She could see the road her family would take tomorrow back to their home in northern Utah. She could see the Tabernacle that was so close to the temple. She could see the mountains where the granite had come from to build the temple. She could see people below, and they looked very tiny.

Louisa grabbed Papa’s arm and hugged it, she was so happy. They inched along the scaffolding until they reached the tallest spire. On top of it was a ball. The top half of this ball was the capstone they had seen President Woodruff place earlier in the day. Standing on top of the ball was the statue of Moroni.

“Papa, I know that this is the Lord’s House, but do you think He would care if I touched the angel Moroni?”

“I think it would be all right.”

“I want to get married here when I’m older, and I want to be able to look up at the angel and remember this day.”

Papa smiled at her, then knelt for Louisa to put her foot into his hands. He lifted her off the scaffolding floor toward the Moroni statue. Louisa reached over the capstone and up as far as she could. She was so excited that she was shaking. She ran her hand across Moroni’s foot. The statue felt warm and smooth.

“Oh, Papa, the temple is wonderful! I’m going to come back after it is dedicated and I am old enough to go inside.”

“That will be another special day, Louisa. Let’s go home now and tell Mama what an exciting time we had here.”

Louisa was true to her promise. Ten years and four days later, on April 10, 1902, she returned to the Salt Lake Temple to marry George Campbell Miller. The ceremony was performed by President Joseph F. Smith. As she left the temple, she looked up at Moroni and remembered that earlier wonderful day with Papa.

[House of the Lord]

Elder David B. Haight

“[Thousands of years] ago, the prophet Micah predicted the following:

“‘But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and … people shall flow unto it.’ …

“Here we may ask ourselves why the Saints—who had already been driven from their homes (and temples) at Kirtland and Nauvoo—would be so willing, even eager, to build another temple. …

“I am convinced those rugged pioneers knew in their hearts that the ordinances of the temple would actually bind (seal) them to their spouses, children, and parents … and provide them an eternal home in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(See Ensign, October 1993, page 9.)

Illustrated by Mark Robison