The temple is the literal house of God for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the place where sacred ordinances are performed. It is a place all Latter-day Saints strive to attend on a regular basis. Unfortunately for some, a temple may not be walking distance away or even driving distance. In fact, for some, temples are not even in their country. This is the situation for Jamaicans. The closest temple to Jamaica is the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple. With the view and the goal to attend the temple, 152 members from the different congregations across Jamaica went to the Santo Domingo Temple on July 20th–25th, 2015. Making that trip was one of great effort and tremendous sacrifice for those who attended.
The flight heading to the Dominican Republic left Jamaica at 11:00 in the morning on July 20, 2015. The 152 members were all aboard the flight. For some it would be their first time attending the temple. The flight’s departure from the Jamaican shores represented a moment of great joy as they knew that they would be just hours away from entering the house of the Lord—a place where they could make sacred covenants and receive personal revelation.
The feedback from those that attended proved that the sacrifices made so that they could attend the temple were indeed worth it.
When asked to give an account of his experience, Michael Robinson from the Boulevard Ward stated, “It’s the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had.” Michael was baptized on October 6, 2013. He said that having the opportunity to attend the temple helped him see that he can do more to serve the Lord. He also stated, referring to God that, “His love for us is more than we can have here in this life.”
Similarly, Christine Collins from the Boulevard Ward felt equally as blessed with her temple trip experience. She had the opportunity to attend with some of her family members. Her response when asked about her trip was, “It was absolutely amazing!”
Her brother Carlton Collins, from the Junction Branch, one of the few youth who went on the trip, explained that a week before he knew that he was attending, he faced a lot of discouragement from friends. Carlton explained that he realized that the devil wanted to rob him of the experience he would have at the temple. He said that at the end of the trip, his testimony and resolve to serve the Lord had been strengthened.
The question that can be asked to the members who attended is: “What is your story?” For Rohan and Tracy Francis from the Ocho Rios Branch, their story began with Elder Beck and Elder Martin, two missionaries who introduced the gospel to them. Elder Martin, who is from Alberta, Canada, and now home from his mission, along with Elder Beck, who is also off his mission, were able to join the members on the trip. It was a quite a privilege for them to be able to meet up with their converts at the temple.
The story of Rohan and Tracy Francis did not stop there. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well-known for promoting traditional families as the fundamental unit of all societies. The Church promotes families, and family history is a major drive for its members. At the temple, Tracy Francis was able to meet Ruth-Ann and Shirlette Brown, two members of the Portmore Ward, who she found out are her great-great-grand-aunt’s children. It was an absolutely wonderful experience for the Brown sisters, who did not know that there were other members of their family who were members of the Church.
The story of Antoinette and Christopher Peart, members of the Constant Spring Ward, and Sister Norma Grant from the Kingston Branch is something to be featured. Being able to attend the temple was a great blessing as their previous attendance at the temple was in 1999. Antoinette explained that it was quite an emotional time for her.
We cannot record all the stories and everything that happened, however, the story of Calvin Dodd from the Hopeton Branch is worth the mention. Calvin Dodd was the oldest member to attend. He is 87 years old and had been baptized on June 15, 1994. Due to health difficulties, previous recent attempts to attend the temple were unfruitful. This trip was indeed a significant milestone for Calvin.
For President Piper, a Church leader for the Mandeville area, his experience was just as significant. He was able to see two sisters from the Negril congregation, whom he had baptized when he was a missionary.
Overall, the trip can be seen as a success. The members were able to perform over 2,000 ordinances during the week they were there. To sum up the whole temple experience for those who attended, in the words of Lacey-Ann Dennis, one of the members, “it was just a reminder that God is real.”