Two Ceremonies

As I was standing in the staging area outside of the SNHU Arena, I recalled another ceremony exactly 2 years prior to the graduation ceremony I was about to participate in: I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple on May 13, 2014.cropped-img_20130803_1422391.jpg

The trials put in my place before I could get to that point or this, where possibly more than another could bare, but God knows my strengths and He added to them with an abundant amount of support. In a blog piece on MaggieSlighte.com today I expounded on the trials that lead to my graduation ceremony, but I also want to reflect on the Covenants that are more sacred to me than any Temporal Bachelor’s degree. Those Covenants I made exactly two years to the day before my Graduation ceremony.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple
Twin Falls Idaho Temple

From the moment I saw a Temple for the first time, I felt God within it. I felt a reverence for the building that I could feel in Idaho Falls in 2011.  Knowing those who were not members (I didn’t know about the Recommend process at the time) could not enter, I was content to photograph it and say a brief prayer thanking God for the privilege of accidentally coming across the site and feeling His presence there.

On my present journey across the United States, whenever I felt doubts or fears or just needed to thank Him for His graciousness and guidance, I have been privileged to take in a session at a local temple.

wpid-wp-1441550340638.jpgIn Snowflake, Arizona, a dear friend suggested I take in a session the day before my divorce hearing. It was just the thing I needed. I calmed and remembered the promises I made to my Heavenly Father about my own behavior. I asked His forgiveness for my behavior that had been unseemly towards my soon-to-be ex-husband and the woman who seduced him in her dining room while I watched the previous spring. I was brokenhearted, but I felt the Comforter surround me as I begged for Heavenly Father’s forgiveness in the Celestial Room. The next day I was able to maintain my composure during a divorce hearing that favored my adulterous husband, leaving me without even belongings that I brought into the marriage.

I received guidance from the Holy Ghost to quickly get out of the small town where the hearing was held, and proceeded quickly to Texas. The Houston Temple was beautiful, wp-1492968409929.jpgand I took the opportunity to take in an early morning session prior to leaving Texas to head to Florida for a job I wasn’t quite certain about. Again, the Comforter was near and calmed my fears while I performed the ordinance work for my ancestor.

In Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale on the way back from The Keys, I was forced to seek medical attention at The Cleveland Clinic when a fierce asthma attack took my breath away. They hospitalized me for 36 hours for a “rule-out myocardial infarction” (heart attack). When I was given a clean bill of health (besides the asthma) the next thing I did was to visit the Ft. Lauderdale Temple that was located right around the corner from the hospital. I thanked my Heavenly Father for the Grace and comfort I felt during and after the stressful experience at the hospital. Then my friend Jacob and I were given the opportunity to meet and help out a few patrons with photos after my session.

20170323_132210_hdr-1.jpg.jpgI felt impressed to travel inland in South Carolina in search of information about my ancestors born in that area. I was rewarded with a visit at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple on the occasion of the anniversary of my own Baptism. There I was given the opportunity to attend a session as well as revisiting the Font for some of my ancestors.

I was impressed in Columbia to continue my journey into North Carolina in search of my mother’s family. I was richly rewarded in Rowan County with the original marriage bond from my 4th great-grandparents on microfiche. The most startling part of that was the fact that Solomon Richardson, my 4th great-grandfather, signed with an ‘x” indicating that he was, in fact, illiterate. I had always assumed that all of my family was literate, having come from very intelligent people. This discovery leant even more meaning to my graduation from Southern New Hampshire University on THIS May 13th. PicsArt_04-06-12.27.49(1)

South Carolina was the last Temple I have visited for a few months, but when the day of my second anniversary of holding my Temple Recommend coincided with the date of my graduation, I felt a subtle “nod” from my Heavenly Father. In my head I could hear the Covenants I made on that day, and thanked Him for the opportunity not only to make them, but to have the ability to attend the Temple as I traveled and allowed Him to have a clearer voice to guide me.

I KNOW I would not have had the communication with Heavenly Father to hear His initial suggestion to go back to school if I had not first made Covenants in the Temple, nor would I have found the fortitude to continue my education in the face of adversity without the regular visits to the Snowflake Temple that my dear friends made possible on a weekly basis.

I KNOW I could not have participated in the second ceremony, my graduation, if I had not participated completely in the first ceremony, my Temple Endowment.

 

 

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From Manchester to Manchester: Meeting My Church Family Across the United States

January 8th was my last Sunday in Washington State before I embarked on a journey that would take me completely across the United States. That Sunday I

In Kitsap County, Washington State Manchester Ward

spent with the Manchester Ward in the Bremerton, Washington Stake. It was the  area where I was staying with a friend. Those friends were gracious enough to give me a place to stay for the holidays with easy access to visit the areas where my family and friends live.

 

On January 11th, I left Washington state, heading out to the coast to avoid a snowstorm that was engulfing Portland, Oregon. I followed hwy 101 down the Pacific Coast, through Washington, then Oregon, stopping briefly to see a dear friend in a town overlooking the southern Oregon coast before heading through northern California where snow in the Redwoods attempted to hamper our travels again.

Oregon Seaside

It took a couple of days, but Sunday found us in Arizona. There was a momentary choice when I realized that I could make it to my Branch, Concho, to attend services. The contention between my soon-to-be ex-husband who I was to be at divorce court with that coming Thursday and his live-in girlfriend who would both be attending our Branch’s Sacrament, made me think better of it. Instead, I spent January 15 listening to General Conference talks and Gospel music with a friend while we made snowmen at the Grand Canyon.

Jacob Building a Snowman at the Grand Canyon, Arizona

We did make it to St. John’s Arizona before the Addiction Recovery meeting ended that evening. It was a welcome support for the issues surrounding the co-dependency I had discovered within myself. One of the reasons for the delay in the divorce, or even possibly the marriage in the first place.

Wednesday was a good day to visit the wonderful Snowflake Temple at the suggestion of one of my dear Concho Branch friends. Peggy and her husband Brian had provided showers and transportation to the temple every Friday during some of the worst times of my marriage and at her suggestion

Snowflake, Arizona Temple

we went for a session the day before the hearing. It was the peace I needed.

 

After the divorce hearing on Thursday, the weather reports were ominous: A storm that was predicted to drop three feet of snow was on it’s way to the area. I did NOT want to be stuck in an one horse town with my now-ex-husband and the woman he moved on with. Too much drama for my brain to handle. So, I got a blessing from my Branch President at the Church building, and headed out through New Mexico towards Texas.

The time we spent in Texas (my friend Jacob who was traveling with me has family in Pipe Creek) was without a church visit. However, Jacob’s fa

Houston, Texas Temple

mily are all church members and we had quite the meeting in their home as many Gospel topics were discussed. It was like having a church meeting in their home. I imagined many meetings like it occurring in the early days of The Church.

 

From Texas, where I was also able to visit the beautiful Houston Temple, we headed for Florida, stopping only quickly in Alabama to visit a couple of friends. By January 29th, we were in Lake Mary, Florida. The church services were enjoyable for me on a rainy day while the dogs and Jacob rested next to the Spanish Moss laden trees.

Lake Mary Stake Center

That week, Jacob and I headed to Key West to check out the sites and gather some photographs for the magazine for which I was compiling a few stories. Although the magazine and I were to part ways before those were published, the opportunity to live sunrise to sunset while gathering some show-stopping photos was quite an enjoyable experience.

The Key West Branch building had a small picnic area in back of the building put together by a young Brother as a part of an Eagle Scout project. It was a fantastic little area to escape the hustle and bustle of a thriving tourist area of Key West in the middle of tourist season. The service on February 5th was absolutely what I needed. Peaceful and true, testimonies were shared from the pulpit that filled my heart with peace and hope.

Behind Key West Branch

The next Sunday, February 12th, found us at the Coconut Creek Ward in Florida. It was the last Sunday that Jacob was there to watch the dogs while I attended services. The Branch that met after the Ward was a Haitian-Creole Branch where for the first time I heard a language that sounded like people were singing to one another. It was beautiful.

The Fort Lauderdale Temple was gorgeous in the light of the sun

Ft. Lauderdale Temple

rise when I visited. Jacob had an opportunity to do a bit of service snapping photos of myself and other patrons and I met a few fellow member-missionaries before I finished with our photos.

 

After Jacob hopped a plane back to his home in Washington from Fort Lauderdale, I headed back north. My next stop was in Palm Bay. It was in this Floridian Ward where I met some of the most wonderful people on my journey. A sister named Nikki invited me for dinner and a her daughter gave up her bed for a night so that I might stretch out a bit. The night previous in the area had seen a vicious attack by mosquitoes that seemed to grow to enormous sizes, a night indoors was so welcomed. The prayers from Nikki’s entire family still are felt in my travels.

From Palm Bay, I headed to DeLand, Florida. I was still in my church clothes from attending DeLand’s Second Ward service on February 26, when I was putting up my tent about 50 miles away in the National Forest for a time out while recovering from a chest cold I had picked up in my travels.

Interlachen, Florida

I spent the week at the campground before heading up to Interlachen, Florida to share my Testimony in a meeting where I was a few minutes late in arriving.  The other testimonies I listened to in this tiny Ward filled my heart with light and happiness at the last Floridian Ward I would be visiting.

From Florida, I headed out to the South Carolina coast. I was enjoying the sunrises in Hilton Head, and I failed to “scout” the location of the local ward. On a cloudy Sunday morning where I had a feeling I should go early, I found that the Meetinghouse on Hilton Head had sustained a great deal of damage during the hurricane in the previous October. I contacted the Bishop and he informed me that services were held at the Beaufort Ward building. I headed up there and arrived

IMG_20170423_123659
Hilton Head, South Carolina

in time to take in an extra Relief Society meeting as well as meeting with the Hilton Head Ward.

 

From Beaufort, South Carolina, I headed inland to a tiny place called Monck’s Corner. In Monck’s Corner, South Carolina I met a sister in Relief Society who had a connection to the northwest and added a task to my list for when I return to my home state. I will be attempting to find her daughter’s grave site.

Monck’s Corner, South Carolina

I met another wonderful group of Sisters in the Relief Society of the Windsor Lake Ward in Columbia, South Carolina where my travels took me while I was searching for my 4th great grandmother who was born in South Carolina in 1808. The sisters in the Windsor Lake Ward were more than welcoming and I enjoyed watching Women’s session of General Conference with them. A dear sister named Leanna even offered us a place to stretch out for a few days with friends for the dogs included!

20170323_132210_hdr-1.jpg.jpg
Columbia, South Carolina Temple

It was in Columbia, South Carolina where I celebrated the 4th anniversary of my Baptism by visiting the Columbia Temple. I remained in the Columbia area for General Conference, before heading to North Carolina.

 

North Carolina, in a little town named Kernersville, I met a Bishop who called himself “Charlie” and a Ward full of Saints. I was overwhelmed with their welcoming and all around southern hospitality.  I got to church, as I usually do no matter where I am, a bit early. I was rewarded for my effort not only with some quiet time in the chapel and an opportunity to meet a few of the patrons, but the wonderful sister who baked the Sacrament bread had baked three extra loaves. I was offered one, and I was so thankful to accept it. I took the opportunity to share with them one of the only things that I can, my Testimony of Christ.

After a week of car repairs, beginning in Columbia, South Carolina and finishing in Kernersville, North Carolina, I was impressed to head north to my destination. By Easter I had arrived in New Hampshire, the site of my daughter’s (and my)

Manchester, New Hampshire

graduation in May. I made it. And Easter services at another Manchester Ward.

 

It was the first time that I had ever seen a Mission Office located in a meetinghouse! They seem to do things a bit differently in New England. But just like the other meetinghouses I have visited, it was full of welcoming Sisters and Brothers. More extended family.

From Manchester to Manchester, I have met friends who are family across the nation. I am so blessed to know each and every one of them. They are my Brothers and Sisters. I am blessed to be a Latter-Day Saint, a member of a family that is Eternal.

Four Years After Baptism

 

On March 23, 2013 I was baptized. March 23 of this year came around and I was visiting Columbia, South Carolina. It seemed a fitting day for a temple trip. After all, I was in the area hunting up ghosts of my ancestors.

During a middle of the night genealogy session spurred by The Spirit, I was reminded that one of my “brick walls” was my 4th great-grandmother, “Becca Wassin,” on my mother’s mother’s side. She had stated in her marriage record to her husband Solomon Richardson that she was born in South Carolina, but after several searches and reading more probate record archives than I would have liked from the mid 1800s (a rough awakening for this “northerner”); I could not find her family in South Carolina. Her marriage bond was found in Rowan County, North Carolina at the Rowan County main library,  but I could not tie her to any family in South Carolina to any degree of certainty.

The original marriage bond for Solomon Richardson and Becca Wassin

I decided to make an appointment for a baptism session for myself after my regular session. It proved to be a very spiritual evening to celebrate my milestone of 4 years in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


A few hours before my sessions, I recorded this video of reflection and testimony at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple. Enjoy

 

A Temple Testimony of His Holy Spirit

Twin Falls Idaho Temple

I LOVE to see the Temple.

The Twin Falls Temple in Idaho was the site of my “wrong turn” at the very start of the softening of my heart. Where I stopped and “felt” the building radiate out into the street.

 

April 20, 2013:  I went on my first proxy Baptism trip to the Seattle Temple just shy of a month after my own baptism. It was that day when I started my father’s work and my forgiveness of him.

Salt Lake City Temple

October 19, 2013:  I spent my first birthday after my baptism, performing proxy baptisms for my family in the Salt Lake City Temple. Afterwards, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the first and only Priesthood Holder who ever asked me out on a date. They served spaghetti at the Salt Lake Temple cafeteria. That’s something you don’t forget. Fortunately, since I was not yet endowed I was in my street clothes, not a white Temple dress. That was the last date Hyrum and I had, but we remain friends and he has since developed a friendship with my husband.

Female Proxy Ordinance Cards

 

May 13, 2014:  I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple, with 3 friends from 2 different Wards. Later that year, I went through Mt. Timpanogos Temple with one of my Sister Missionaries for the proxy Endowments of both my grandmothers.

Since May of 2014, I have befriended many Temple workers in many Wards and Branches. I have even roomed with one while I was needing a place to stay in close proximity to my grandchildren for a holiday season. She helped bolster my Testimony on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Marian helped me understand Personal Revelation. A Returned Missionary, she helped me trust God. That is a gift I don’t know how to ever repay.

Lacey Washington Stake Center

When I visit a Ward, I find myself looking around. The Temple Workers seem to “glow” with light. I went up to an older, beautiful lady one day in the Lacey, Washington Stake Center that I was visiting. I felt I HAD to know; “Did she work at the Temple?” Yes, in fact, she confirmed that she did. The “Glow” had been apparent across the room.

My Patriarchal Blessing explicitly states that I will bless my family on both sides of the veil with the work I perform in the Temple. In the past two years, I have been blessed to catch rides with Temple Workers on many occasions, giving me the opportunity to perform an entire shift’s worth of Proxy Ordinances while I was there.

Snowflake, Arizona Temple
Snowflake, Arizona Temple

I look at the Temple Ordinance workers with gratitude and amazement. Even though sometimes rather elderly, they seem almost spry. Their minds are clear and their memories amazingly retentive.

This spring, just short of my Temple Recommend needing renewed; I felt an overwhelming compulsion. My best friend (and Visiting Teacher), Anne, had been urging me to not only go to the Temple to perform Proxy Ordinances while she and my other friends worked; she wanted me to volunteer to work there too!

Anne works in the Laundry of the Snowflake Temple, she suggested that I volunteer to work there also. I hesitated, because doing my own laundry is difficult enough for me with a broken back and other chronic pain. But that didn’t deter her. She was convinced I should be working in the Temple with her and several of our friends in our Branch.

At Snoflake, Arizona Temple

In early March, as I was speaking to our Branch President about another matter, the compulsion felt overwhelming. I was attempting to open his office door to leave. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Turn around and ask him…” I knew what the Spirit was speaking to me about. The compulsion was incredibly strong; it was if I could not turn the doorknob I was attempting to reach. “Turn around and ask him,” the Spirit continued to whisper, but I hesitated. I didn’t want to appear too eager, feeling there must be some requirement I didn’t meet. There is no way I felt qualified to work at the Temple. But the Spirit would not cease, so I turned around.

Choose The Right

After asking my Branch President if there was some way I could help in the Temple, some place I could volunteer, and if my services would be adequate, I felt relieved of the compulsion for a few days. That Friday when I visited the Snowflake Temple during Anne’s shift, it returned in the Celestial Room.

“Go talk to the Matron,” the whispering Holy Spirit urged. “Why would I want to do that?!” In shock I answered in my thoughts.

“Tell her you want to work here, tell her your experience.” The Spirit would not let up.

I entered the dressing room to ready (and steady) myself. It was crowded, more crowded than I had ever seen. I sought refuge in the lavatory, but even that room seemed overwhelmingly crowded. I prayed for courage in the stall.

IMG_20150320_154902Sitting in the Matron’s office, I felt silly to have been so nervous. The Assistant Matron was on duty that night and was a genteel lady with a radiant countenance. She glowed. As I explained the Spirit’s (and Anne’s) urgings, and my experience as a retired computer programmer; she shared with me that there was a spot opening up in the Temple Office. A elderly couple that had been with the office since the opening of the Snowflake Temple in 2002 was retiring. Their shifts would not be easy to fill and they would be missed.

IMG_20140428_135909_095I felt a reassurance from my Heavenly Father. There was a service I felt confident I could perform. To be able to share my skills on computers and office work with the Snowflake Temple and help perform the work that needs to be done, felt like an incredible blessing. The Matron seemed happy to be placing my name on the lists to be approved by my Branch and Stake Presidents.

Over the next couple of weeks, during my Fridays at the Temple, I got to know the Temple Presidency through a couple of very informal interviews. By the time my volunteering in the office was approved by the Stake President, my Temple Recommend was up for renewal for the first time. I had to go in for my interviews again

Snowflake

Then it happened, I received a call asking me to come in for an interview at the beginning of my regular Friday visit. That is a day I will NEVER forget. As my friend Anne escorted me into the Temple President’s office, Elder Bradley Foster of the Seventy appeared to be looking for something on the President’s desk. He engaged me in a brief conversation before the Temple President entered. I wish I remembered that he was the one who gave the talk, “It’s Never Too Early and It’s Never Too Late,” in the October 2015 General Conference that spoke to my heart, but I was too overwhelmed by the situation. When the Temple President entered, I was surprised when I wasn’t to be interviewed, but quickly set apart as an Office Worker, and sent off to meet the rest of the office staff, Recorder and the Assistant Recorder.

Proxy Ordinance Cards

I made quick friends with the other new worker and briefly met the retiring couple. My life in the weeks since has been blessed as, among other things, I’ve been able to learn my tasks at the Temple Office very quickly and life at home seems easier too. I look forward to my Friday Evenings in the Temple every week.

My Testimony of Temple work is solid. I have a powerful Testimony of the Holy Spirit and I strongly agree with President Monson’s directive to “NEVER postpone a prompting.”DSCN2834

I leave this Testimony with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.