Part 1 of this story is HERE.
Part 2 is HERE.
Part 3 is HERE.
Once upon a time, in a suburb right in the heart of the desert, it was announced by the Mormon church presidency that a temple would be built.
The people in that hot-as-blazes valley went crazy with excitement (read all about that in all those other "parts" above).
They watched eagerly as each step was built.
The bedrock was laid. The foundation was sealed with rocks from hundreds of lucky-to-be-involved youth (part 2).
Steel support was built to make it strong as could be.
Along with a lot of other festivities, "Temple Walks" of all sorts were planned as the valley of excited people watched it rise up from the dust. They wanted to show their gratitude any way they could for what a blessing that thing would be in their lives.
...and in the lives of their children...and the lives of their childrens' children.
As it neared completion, the excitement was palpable.
One particular lady (the one who's perspective is the basis for this story), was asked to be on the committee to help plan a second stake temple walk (this time with whole families and not just the youth).
Here are some of the other committee members:
Photography crew up there above.
(Her daughter was overjoyed that she was automatically on the committee by order of being her daughter and was pleased as punch for all the work that it included. Ha!)
Luckily she had a friend to join her.
Ok, and some other pretty sweet friends too.
It was awesome that her mom was on the committee so she could be sure to tell her that everyone was supposed to wear white...
Whoops, forgot that minor detail...
Here's everyone taking off:
And a little stop for pictures...
See that huge line of white-shirted folks on their way out to walk to the temple below?
Hoards of wonderful families walked to that beautiful temple that day to be close to it.
To show respect for it.
To be grateful for it.
And to learn more about it. These signs with various little facts were placed intermittently on the pathway leading to the temple:
Each family got a family picture at the temple.
And then walked back to the giant soccer complex to have picnics as families.
That one mother couldn't stop taking pictures, even after everything was cleared and packed up.
That same mother and her husband were honored to be tour guides for the temple open house.
(A temple open house is when anyone can go into the temple before it is dedicated. After the dedication only members of the church in good standing living the church standards can go in.)
That meant she got to spend a good deal of time watching the finishing preparations. During the day:
One night she got to go from one temple in the valley...
There was a LOT of temple hoopla going on.
The whole valley was full of anticipation and excitement. Right before the temple open house began, this mother got a special invitation for her family to tour the building.
It was an amazing day to be together there in that beautiful place.
One daughter had to miss that family visit so luckily that mother got to bring her on a special date another day.
She and her husband got to be "ushers" for the four weeks of the temple open house.
They had no idea what they were in for. Over 400,000 people went through that beautiful place during the Open house.
And these two felt honored to get to meet so many of them, and to get to explain so much about the temple to those who were so curious.
And they felt so grateful to be involved.
More about the temple open house HERE.
The day before the actual temple dedication there was a "Cultural Celebration" which created so many feelings of love and gratitude for that mother that it will have to be captured in another post all together.
But this one can end with the finale of the building of that great building:
The day it was dedicated to the Lord.
Because boy howdy was that ever a wonderful day for families throughout the valley.
They had looked forward to that day for so very long.
And it was finally there.
That beautiful building stood before them, ready to be used and loved.
This particular family, through some very lucky series of events, got to be in the temple for one of the dedications. (The ceremonies were broadcast throughout the valley in church buildings so all those members old enough could take part.)
In the Celestial Room to be exact.
And that, my friends, is where the Prophet of the church was on that bright, sunny day.
It was a grand day for that family...even though their youngest child was too little to be there in person (you have to be at least eight-years-old to attend), and the Dad was on a pre-planned trip and couldn't be there.
That youngest girl in the front below even got a wink from the Prophet.
Now, most "Once Upon a Time" stories end with
But not this one.
Because the end of this building and dedication was only the beginning of what was to come: weddings and sealings, prayers and ponderings, work for those who have passed on, and more work for those who need that beautiful spirit to fill their lives in a way that nothing else seems to touch.
And the people of that valley settled down after all that hoopla not to an "end" but to a "beginning" and relished in the fact that they got to begin the joyous occasion to put that gorgeous temple to good use forever on.
For more about Mormon temples click HERE.