A Gift to Remember
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“A Gift to Remember,” Friend, Apr. 2004, 20–22

A Gift to Remember

(Based on a true story)

Build a house unto me in the name of the Lord (D&C 97:15).

Frances couldn’t sleep. She felt like jumping up and down with excitement, but she forced herself to lie still so she wouldn’t wake her three younger brothers on the floor beside her.

She pinched herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming. “Tomorrow I’m really going with Father to Salt Lake City for the temple dedication. This will be my happiest birthday ever!” she thought.

It seemed only minutes had passed when Father nudged her and whispered, “Wake up, Frances. It’s nearly sunup.”

She quickly slid into her dress and smoothed her hair. Clutching the small bundle containing her other dress, she hurried to the wagon.

Frances had never been away from home. She wanted to see everything. But by mid-morning, she realized that red soil, gray sagebrush, and dark cedar trees were the only sights for miles around. “I wish we could go faster,” she said. “I can’t wait to see the temple. Perhaps we’ll even see the prophet!”

“Singing will make the journey go faster,” Father suggested. He began singing his favorite hymn, “The Spirit of God.”* After he finished singing, Father said, “That song was sung at the Kirtland Temple dedication. I expect it will be sung in many more temples of the Lord.”

Frances and her father began to sing in harmony. The hymns “Now Let Us Rejoice” and “Redeemer of Israel”** echoed through the nearby hills. Frances smiled. “I’ve never been so happy,” she thought.

After Father stopped the team for the night and the two of them had eaten, Father said, “It’s time for scripture study. Will you read from Isaiah, Frances?”

She opened Father’s well-worn Bible to the page they had read the night before and began reading.

After scripture study, Frances lay on the corn-husk tick (mattress) in the wagon and quickly fell asleep.

April 6, 1893, dawned cold and windy. Frances awoke early. She could hardly contain her excitement! “Today we will finally see the temple!” she thought. “I couldn’t receive a better birthday present.”

The scenery changed as they traveled north. The mountains were higher and more rugged. The air was cooler with cloudy skies, threatening to rain.

When they arrived in Salt Lake City, many wagons and buggies bumped along the busy, dusty road toward the temple. “It looks like everyone in the Church is going to the dedication with us,” Frances exclaimed.

Rounding a curve, she gasped. In the distance a huge granite building with six majestic spires rose in splendor. Standing high on one spire was a golden statue of the angel Moroni.

Father stopped the wagon. Tears filled Frances’s eyes as she hugged Father’s arm. “The temple is even more beautiful than I had imagined,” she whispered.

Father’s eyes were moist, too. “It’s taken forty years of sacrifice and hard labor to build this temple, but it is a small price to pay to finally receive the blessings the Lord has in store for us in His house.”

To Frances’s surprise, Father drew a tiny box from his pocket and placed it in her hand. “I want you to always remember this day,” he said. Opening the box, he removed a gold locket and fastened its delicate chain around her neck.

Tears of joy flowed down her cheeks. “Father, I love you so! I’ll always treasure this locket. It will help me remember the things you’ve taught me.”

“Always remember the importance of the Lord’s house,” Father said. “The desire of my heart is for all of my children to be sealed in the temple. I’m depending on you to set the example and teach your brothers and baby sister.”

“I will, Father,” Frances promised.

Father jerked the reins, and the horses moved forward. Outside the temple a large crowd was assembling. Father parked the wagon a short distance from the temple, secured the horses, then helped Frances climb out of the wagon.

As Frances studied each detail of the great temple, she remembered the words she had read in Isaiah the night before:

“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their … sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Isa. 56:7).

She looked at the golden angel, high against the ash-gray sky. Walking reverently beside her father, she whispered, “I’ve never felt this close to the Lord. I know that this is His house.” She reached for her father’s hand. A feeling of joy and peace filled her heart as they walked toward the temple doors.

  • See Hymns, no. 2.

  • See Hymns, no. 3, no. 6.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson