As patrons started to file in my session, I noticed a whole bunch of what I thought were probably missionaries. Missionaries don't wear name tags in the Temple and everyone is dressed in white so it's hard to tell. I guessed that there were about 40 elders and maybe 10 or 12 sister missionaries, maybe more. Most of them looked like they were from foreign countries, a lot from South America and quite a number of Asian looking missionaries. That's a lot of missionaries and I was so happy to be there with all of them.
At one point when we were finished I asked one of the young men if he was a missionary. He looked very nervous to have to speak to me and then said "yes, California." I asked another question and he said his English was very poor but I did manage to gather that he was from Spain and figured out that he was going to California. In the dressing room I saw a sister missionary getting ready to leave with her missionary name tag on. Her name was Sister Lin, an obvious Chinese name, so I just went right ahead and spoke to her in Mandarin assuming that her English might be an issue for her also. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even after not speaking any Mandarin in well over 7 months or more that I was able to have a fluent conversation with her in Chinese. That made me very happy. She asked when I was there and I told her 1982-1983 and she told me that was before she was born. How's that for making me feel old!! I asked her where she was going and she said to the Washington D.C Visitor's Center mission. I told her my Mom was in that mission. What a small, small world. A sister Temple worker overheard us and talked to me before I left. She had tears in her eyes and told me she served in Germany 31 years ago. She was touched to hear us speaking. I thought how I couldn't speak Chinese once and how by the gift of God, the miracle of the missionaries teaching people in other tongues continues. This elder from Spain will be fluent in English not long from now as he works hard to learn the language and exercises faith.
I found out that all these missionaries were from the MTC, they came as a bus full. A sister from Australia told me all the international missionaries assigned to the Provo MTC get to come to the Salt Lake Temple once while they are in the MTC. On the way out I spoke to another sister who was from France also headed to the Washington DC Visitor's Center. If there is one thing I love, it's the missionaries. What a great time I had this morning.
I was sitting there before the session began and I recalled a paper I keep nearby where I read my scriptures. It is very old, poorly done and very tattered. It has become quite special to me though. Years ago when my children were very young, we had a Family Home Evening about all of us going to the Temple one day together. I wanted them to get a visual of what that might be like for all of us to be there together hugging each other. I tried to demonstrate what that would be like for us so I cut out a string of people holding hands. Then I taught them a scripture that would help us to achieve that goal of all being in the Temple one day together. It is from the Book of Mormon and in essence it says that as we choose good and keep God's commandments, we will be able to withstand the temptations that Satan puts in our way to keep us from our Temple blessings as a family. As my daughters have gotten married, I have taken the gold Temple sticker which indicates who the mother-of-the-bride is and I have placed it over the heart of each daughter represented in the string of people. There will be silver stickers for my sons for the groom's mother. I intend to get heart stickers and place them over the ones representing Jim and me. Even though this paper is old, worn, and tattered, it has been a wonderful reminder to me of what we are trying to achieve as a family. This morning as I sat in the Temple with all those wonderful missionaries, I was overcome with the thought that this will probably be a reality in a little over a year from now when Seth is preparing to leave for his mission. What a wonderful thought. What a wonderful day.
I pray we all make it.