The open house for the Newport Beach Temple is officially over. Yesterday was the last day. Until Friday night, I had quite forgotten that I was supposed to work the open house as a volunteer for a four hour shift yesterday. The Move from Hades® has pretty much driven most of normal life from my fevered brain these past several days, and I was actually a little disappointed that I couldn't keep up the momentum. Still, duty calls; a chance to work at a temple open house comes only once or so in a lifetime.
Since it was our stake's turn, each ward made its plans to meet and carpool down to the temple. Our ward always meets in the parking lot of our local Albertson's. Always. Every youth activity that requires carpooling (which most do) begins at Albertson's. Since this was a temple excursion, we were all dressed in Sunday best; women in pretty dresses, and men in white shirts and ties, a few of us with coats. Our bishop commented that he wondered what people think when they see a gathering like ours. I said they probably think what I would think if I saw the same thing: "Jay-Dubs will be knocking on doors again this morning."
Anyway, we formed our pools and reported at the temple site. The temple is built adjacent to the Newport Beach Stake Center, which had been transformed temporarily into a Visitors Center. That was my assigned post. I was a "counter," which meant counting each person that came in for the tour. This was a good thing because I needed to sit frequently and save my aching feet and back. Since we who worked the doors also served as crowd control ( we could only let in groups of 35 to 40 at a time) I also had a chance to visit with many people from different parts of the country who had come to visit the temple. Many, of course, were Latter-day Saint faithfuls who wanted their families to see the temple that Mommy and Daddy would be visiting (hopefully) regularly. Others were there out of curiosity. Some had LDS neighbors or friends and wanted to get a better idea of what the temple is all about. In the five or so minutes that she waited at the door, I had a wonderful conversation with one gracious lady who wanted to know more about who could go in the temple once it was "closed" to the public, and why I thought the Church was such a fast-growing church.
This was an interesting exercise for me. I make no secret of my membership in the Church, even at work. And while I do on occasion have conversations with co-workers about the gospel, this was the first time I could recall having to explain about the temple since I had served as a stake missionary many years ago. I was also unprepared to answer the question. I thought, anyway.
It is a wonderful thing that the Spirit can fill the gaps in our own thinking. The question about who was eligible to enter the temple was relatively easy. The question about the growth of the Church, however, is pretty open-ended. There must be as many reasons why people join the Church as there are converts. But I needed a concise answer, and I felt prompted to say that, from my experience, it's our emphasis on the eternal nature of the family that would be one of our biggest draws. I talked about how the Church leads us to center our families around the Savior, and how that helps protect us from the evils of life. That (very) brief testimony seemed to resonate with the lady, and she thanked me for spending the time with her. At that moment it was their turn to enter for the tour.
I may have no way of knowing how - or even if - that testimony will affect that lady's life. The temple tour itself should have helped drive home the very simple point I tried to make in my own feeble way, and I hope it did. Looking back on the experience, I hope I wasn't too preachy. I hope I said the right things. I hope she could feel the Spirit that inevitably radiates from such a holy place, even though it isn't yet dedicated.
My family missed the open house this year. Circumstances just didn't allow it, between our own health and other extended family issues that we've been dealing with. It's disappointing, but I had an idea that I shared with Mrs. Woody. The Sacramento Temple is under construction, and I'm guessing it will be open next year some time. It would be a neat family vacation to visit the state capitol and time it to coincide with that temple's open house. Since we homeschool, we can get away with that no matter what time of year that may be. We have some good friends in the area, and I know they'd put us up for a night or two. This bears some thought, but I'm already getting excited about the trip.
I really want the Woodyettes to appreciate the blessings that come from visiting one of the holiest places on the earth today.