The dedication of a temple in Switzerland in 1955 was a life-changing event for Latter-day Saints in Europe. For the first time, temple ordinances would be available without a trip across the Atlantic. Many wards and branches across the continent organized trips to the temple dedication. Hannele Blomqvist, a Finnish Latter-day Saint then serving as a missionary in her native country, was one of those who traveled to the temple. Anxious to participate in temple ceremonies, she used part of her savings that she had kept for her mission and schooling in order to pay for her travel. “I knew that it would be difficult,” she said, “but my desire to go to the temple was so burning that I was willing to be especially frugal.”
On September 11, 1955, Hannele and other Finnish Saints and missionaries set out from Helsinki by boat. Once they reached land, they traveled by train to Bern, Switzerland. The trip took four days. They arrived the morning of September 15 and took a bus to the temple, where they attended the last dedicatory session. “One of the most solemn moments in my life was to be able for the first time to step into the Lord’s house,” Hannele wrote in her journal. While temple ordinance work began the next day, most of the Finnish Saints began the trek home since temple ceremonies had yet to be translated into their language. The few who understood Swedish, including Hannele, remained for another day to receive their endowments.
After the translation of temple ceremonies into Finnish in 1957, temple worship became available for more Finns. Though the journey could be long and difficult for some Latter-day Saints, temple trips became highlights of their spiritual lives. One mission president recalled an older Latter-day Saint woman assuring him she would be all right during the return trip home. “I have been to the temple and all of my family is sealed for eternity,” she said. “It doesn’t make any difference if I ever get back to Finland.” With the opening of the Stockholm Sweden Temple in 1985, the distance Finnish Saints had to travel to the temple was greatly reduced. Many Finnish Saints attended, and a Finnish choir sang at the dedicatory services.