After 3 months of extended maintenance shutdown, we are on the eve of the Preston Temple reopening. (Opens 20/10/21) As exciting as this is for most and a relief for others, the drive home this evening was somewhat sad for me. I hadn’t realised until leaving, how much I would miss working daily in such a sacred and special place. After maintaining chapels for 18 years, I started out fully appreciating that it was a privilege, to be invited to be contracted assisting the full time temple staff during shutdown. But like most things its easy to take for granted the experiences and spirit we feel, when exposed to them on a regular basis.
I was reminded today that this is the Lords house and he looks over the affairs that take place within, even in the most mundane things, like looking for a replacement tap washer. After being helped to search in 4 store rooms, in various buildings on the site, I was just about to give up and was prompted to look in an unmarked box of random spare parts, and there sat on the top was the very washer I needed! There are no short cuts to achieving temple standards of workmanship, but like life, when you have done all you can do – there is help from above.
I will also miss the daily interactions with those who lovingly maintain the temple site. I have written before about the engineering team or “Wise Hearted Men” Today I would like to mention the custodians. They have constantly tried to keep the temple spotless, during what has on occasions been a messy time of construction. The last couple of days in particular have been relentless, as they have been the last to be able to complete their work. Yes they are employed, but as you speak to them, it is obvious there is also a deeper desire and understanding that motivates all they do. Like the sister who started as a custodian a year after the temple opened and has deferred retirement as she enjoys the work. Or the brother who smiles (behind a mask) cheerfully as he polishes the alter brass every day.
When you next attend the temple be aware of the vast amounts of brass on doors, handrails and alters, that is all polished and cleaned to ensure there are no marks or finger prints. During the day you can almost set your watch by a team of three custodians that like processionary caterpillars, wind their way around the handrails of the central staircase, applying, polishing and removing brass cleaner. I joked with them one day “what do you do if one of you is missing?” – “Adapt” was the reply.
Every aspect of the temple has been cleaned, checked and inspected to exacting standards. From the tip of the new Moroni to the control panels in the basement boiler rooms. Carpets have been replaced or deep cleaned, each dressing room locker, skirting, door frame and light fitting has been dusted and checked. But this is not the most important work to take place inside the temple walls… There was a sense of normality restored today as the Temple Presidency and Recorder toured the building to give their approval. Seeing these brethren in their white suits signified a readiness to return to normal operation. Temporal matters making way for Temple Ordinances.
Of course this work of renovation is twofold. It ensures that the temple is fitting for its role as “The House of the Lord” When a people worship the Lord they want His house to be as perfect as possible as a sign to Him of their dedication and devotion. But the second purpose is for us as Patrons to have the best possible experience as we perform sacred ordinances that exalt families and loved ones. I have lost count of how many early morning devotional prayers I have participated in that have included an expression of “making the temple ready for the Patrons to use and enjoy.”
“We build temples so our most faithful members can visit often and receive the most sacred ordinances of our faith” President Nelson
If you already have a visit to the temple booked be assured it will be all you expect and more. If you haven’t, go online and make a booking or ask a local leader to explain how. If you have not yet been within a temple, the following virtual tour of the one in Rome will give an insight into what they are like. Whilst a different style and design the standards are the same.
All that remains is for the temple to be used – “Welcome to the Temple”