'A sacred place' - Open house concludes
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SOUTH JORDAN, UTAH
A single visit to the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple simply wasn't enough for Milvia Dique. After touring the elegant new edifice with friends shortly after the temple's open house period began, she made an encore visit with a relative vacationing in Utah from London. Then the West Jordan, Utah, woman returned a third time to the temple with her husband, Edilson, and two of their children.
Her affection for the new temple may seem a bit surprising. Mrs. Dique is not a Church member. Still, the recently concluded open house "has been a beautiful experience — I've enjoyed being inside the temple so much. The feelings I have felt there have been so strong," she said.
Indeed, the open house of the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple will be remembered as a time of peace, understanding and beauty for Mrs. Dique and hundreds of thousands of people of all backgrounds and faiths. After opening its doors to the public June 1, the temple welcomed almost 590,000 visitors during its two-month open house period.
"We are very grateful, pleased and happy," said Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Church's temple department. "The open house was a wonderful experience."
For some, the open house offered moments to relish the stately beauty of the new granite building that overlooks the burgeoning communities of the southwest corner of the Salt Lake Valley. Many admired the exterior gardens and gazed eastward across the valley at the recently dedicated Draper Utah Temple. The Jordan River Temple was easy to spot just a few miles to the northeast. Meanwhile, the new temple's interior was a celebration of craftsmanship with its finely cut wood, glass and stone features.
But for many others, the open house represented far more than physical beauty and artisan skill. For them it was an exercise of service, commitment, family, unity and learning.
"The memories that came from the open house were daily and varied," said South Jordan Utah Highland Stake President Robert Homer, who served as chairman of the open house activities. "The temple open house taught a lot of people — from leaders of other faiths to our own brothers and sisters."
Elder Walker said the massive open house operation was made possible through the dedication and sacrifice of thousands of local members living in the new temple district who made time available to serve. Some 800 volunteers were needed each day at the temple grounds. Many labored inside the temple, sharing with visitors their testimonies of eternal families and the blessings of the restored gospel. Others worked outside the temple, passing out cookies in the hospitality tent or slapping on sunblock while fulfilling parking duty assignments.
"It was humbling and wonderful to see [such service]," said Elder Walker, adding he came to recognize the faces of many "repeat volunteers" during his frequents trips to the temple open house.
President Homer said some volunteers were not active Church members. A few were not members at all. Still, they graciously filled shifts and did whatever they were asked to do to help the open house function smoothly.
Prior to the open house, Elder Walker wondered if hot summer weather might keep some folks away. Instead, volunteers and visitors endured a chilly and often wet June. Thunderstorms were common and heaters were sometimes used in the hospitality tent. Even the Angel Moroni statue atop the temple was struck by lightning during one summer storm. July would bring warmer temperatures and larger crowds. More than 100,000 visitors toured the temple during the final week of the public tour.
Despite hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors over a two month period, President Homer said he did not hear a single complaint from residents of the surrounding Daybreak residential community. Folks were kept off the streets, dust was kept at a minimum and visitors were respectful of others' peace and property.
Many visitors said they were eager to bring their young children to the temple and let them experience the beauty, wonder and spirit of the Celestial Room, baptistry and mural-covered ordinance rooms. It's estimated about 85 percent of the open house participants were Church members. Still, many members used this rare opportunity to visit the temple with friends of all backgrounds. Elder Walker said he has heard several accounts of LDS visitors recommitting themselves to gospel activity after touring the temple. Other young visitors who were perhaps wavering in their faith reported feeling prompted to serve full-time missions or marry in the new temple.
Three-time visitor Mrs. Dique said she has gained an appreciation for temples. Any mystery that once surrounded the Church's most holy edifices have been replaced with understanding and respect. "I know now why the temple is such a sacred place."