We are so fortunate to live so close to the Mesa, Arizona temple. For 3+ years it was shut down for renovation and when they reopen a temple after extensive renovation, they do a public open house for 5-6 weeks where anyone can walk through it.
So back in October the doors were opened to the public for the first time since 1975 when the temple had it last major renovation. This is considered a pioneer temple, built in 1922, and they did a beautiful job of restoring it back to his original design glory.
Our family was able to benefit from this open house in a number of ways and we sought every opportunity we could to walk through those doors with our kids and we invited both those of our faith, and those not of our faith to join us.
My parents happened to be visiting during the first week of the open house and it was the first time I had been inside since the closure.
Hallie and Hunter were able to go several times with different groups of youth/friends.
Hallie was able to walk it with her tennis coach (who also happens to coach Steve’s sister’s coach…and everyone else in the area). He doesn’t see these ladies outside of tennis so he had a hard time recognizing people without their hair pulled back with hats!
Steve’s sister and brother-in-law played a very important and labor intensive role in the open house and they were able to give us a special tour one evening with family members that were available. Their insight and guided tour was extremely special.
Steve and I took some dear neighbors who were anxious to see inside the temple.
On top of all the visits we took with friends and family, I was able to work two days a week at the open house. So it you happened to visit Tuesday afternoons or Friday mornings, it’s a good chance I saw you. My first of many shifts was spent as a talking point inside the temple. My next shift I offered tours. My third shift I was the talking point on the stairs outside the temple and I remained at that position for the duration of the open house.
It was my favorite. I got to see and talk and connect with so many great people. I was happy to welcome them to the temple – many of whom had never set foot inside a temple and they were curious to see what it was about. I saw so many faces I recognized, and many great friends who came through. I connected with a couple from out of state that just so happen to live next to one of our good friends. How is that even possible? I welcomed a large group of kids from several states in town for a large cross country meet. I met people who came for a visit during a short layover at the airport. I met people who have lived next to the temple for years and hadn’t been inside. I met so many people and I loved every minute of it. I was much better suited on the front steps then the silent tours I was originally assigned to! It was truly a unique experience.
After the open house was completed, we were able to attend the dedication. They allow a number of people to attend in person to one of the three sessions and then everyone else watches a broadcast of the dedication in a church building. By some large miracle, we ended up with a ticket to attend the dedication for every family member that was old enough to attend (Briggs wasn’t able to join us because he isn’t baptized yet).
Words can’t describe the experience we had together for that dedication. It was beautiful beyond measure and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will settle deep within our hearts. In our faith, the temple is the foundation of our eternal families – I couldn’t ask for a greater promise.