Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Phoenix Temple Corner Stone Ceremony

I still remember the day it was announced in General Conference, that there were plans to construct the Gilbert Arizona Temple & the Phoenix Arizona Temple.  Gilbert has been closest to my heart as it's my home-town, and a dream fulfilled to have a temple here, but EVERY temple that's ever been announced in Arizona has had an electrifying effect on the people in this state, and especially on the people in the surrounding areas of the new temples.  

Time seemed to drag on before ground was finally broken.  But when it happened, we were there. (Click)  Plans for building moved forward.  Cranes filled the lot.  There were construction workers, dump trucks, cement trucks, and we heard the clanging of nails from across the street at Discovery Park.  On more days than I can remember, we were there watching it with the kids (click).  Then came the long awaited day that the Angel Moroni was lifted to the top.  I heard a rumor of leaked the information, and I camped out all day with a newborn & cancelled a dental appointment so that I wouldn't miss the once in a lifetime opportunity, and I convinced many others to take breaks from work & rearrange their day so they could be there, too.  You'd better believe we didn't miss it (click) - without a doubt, we were there!  Then came the Cultural Celebration rehearsals - inspired, and moving, and faith promoting.  Then we had the Open House, and opportunities to volunteer, and bring friends.  On the first day, the last day, and many days in between, we were there (click).  

When the celebration came, along with a torrent of rain, 
...we were there!  

On the day of the dedication, I attended the 2nd dedicatory session inside the Gilbert Temple with my husband & parents & siblings.  Being together inside the temple that day changed our lives forever, as have the moments we were able to be in the temple as an entire family since then.  

My kids were so sad they were too young to go, but at the end of the dedication, we knew the prophet would drive away, and so we were there to wave our hankies as he drove away.  


In every way possible, we tried to soak in the experience, and involve our children to make memories so they would know how important this was to us, and we hoped it would be important to them at a young age. We still hope that all these little moments will leave an impression that they will remember.  

But there WAS ONE THING we completely missed out on with the Gilbert Temple.

I distinctly remember sitting in the Stake Center with friends at the 1st morning session watching the Cornerstone Ceremony and thinking, "Why on earth am I NOT there with my kids right now?"  I didn't feel deprived. Not jealous. Just surprised at myself.  Surprised that with everything associated in the temple construction, that I would forget about the cornerstone ceremony - how could I forget that when I KNEW every temple has a corner stone ceremony?  And how could I forget that, especially when my kids longed to be a part of the dedication in any way they could?  

I resolved then and there, that when the time came, I would take my kids to the Phoenix Temple Cornerstone Ceremony.

Here we are 8 months later.  
And I'm happy to say that WE WERE THERE.

Yesterday morning, we woke up early.  Drove for an hour.  It was a total shot in the dark.  All we truly planned on experiencing was catching a glimpse of what was happening from a distance & getting to take a picture by the Phoenix Temple Cornerstone after everything cleared away.  We were prepared to walk a mile or two and stand on the public side walk, because I was pretty sure we wouldn't be allowed to park at Wet and Wild & be bused with the people who had tickets for the dedication in the temple.  As we got closer, I even began to worry that perhaps kids younger than 8 wouldn't be allowed at the cornerstone ceremony.  I was prepared to be turned away, or to have to wait until it was over to get anywhere close.

Much to our surprise, we were allowed to be bused with everyone else.  We were allowed to have little kids, and others did, too.  We didn't have to walk 2 miles, but as the unusually crisp wind blew, I realized I was prepared for every possible scenario, EXCEPT for how cold it was! 

We found a lucky blanket in the back of the van, a lucky straggling beanie cap, some lucky extra socks for my niece, and my husband gave Emmett his suit coat jacket.

When the time finally came for the Cornerstone Ceremony, we were pretty close.  In fact, we were shockingly close.  We had planned to watch it from the grass, but there ended up being plenty of room on the steps, and there was a chain blocking off the area between the steps and the doors to the temple.  Come to find out, that very place we moved to ended up being the best spot of all.  There was a cluster of kids right up front, and next to them were some teenagers.  Erin told me we should ask the teenagers to let the boys stand in front of them.  I got to looking & realized that with the way we were, and with the height of my children, if the boys stayed with me, I'd have to lift them up to see anything, or I could try asking if the boys could stand with the other kids and next to the teenagers.  I asked this amazing young man named Nate if the boys could stand by him - he had zero hesitation & said "Absolutely!"  About 10 minutes until 10am, I let my kids go by Nate, and they were stuffed in a spot where they thought they couldn't see at all.  Nate realized they were by him, and he moved them to stand right in front of him.  When the prophet walked out of the temple with Elder Uchdorf & Elder Oaks, I realized that because of where Nate put my kids, they had a straight shot view to where the prophet was.  Then I realized the prophet himself was walking right towards my children.  I was only a few feet away myself, but there were still several people in front of me.  Because of Nate's kindness, however, my kids had no obstruction to their view whatsoever.  The prophet said something & high fived the group of kids next to my boys.  Then he paused to wiggle his ears for the kids (which apparently my boys were totally oblivious to the ear wiggles, haha), and then he moved along towards the cornerstone.  I couldn't see very well anymore, but at this point I almost wasn't trying to see, because I was so shocked by what just happened.  I was so grateful, and I reached thru the crowd & squeezed Nate's arm and I told him I'll love him forever.  Then he grinned at me and said, "He talked to YOUR BOY!"  I was so blown away as the ceremony continued & as we listened to the choir.  When the ceremony was completed, all the leaders came back towards us.  I was surprised by how young Elder Uchdorf looks in person, and how old the prophet looks, and how skinny Elder Oaks is compared to the last time I saw him in person.  On the way back, I finally felt like it was okay to take a picture.  The prophet looked at the kids again, and headed towards the doors, when he decided to turn back, and go meet some kids further along in the line.

When it was all over, the crowd dispersed quickly, and my boys came over to me.  I finally found out what happened when they were at the front of the chain.  When the prophet came by them, he looked in Tyson's eyes and smiled - TWICE.   When he looked at Emmett - who was still wearing Mitchell's very large suit coat, President Monson said, "That coat is a little big for you, huh?"  And then he laughed.  My kids were shocked by Pres. Monson.  Tyson said to me, "I can't believe he made a joke instead of saying something reverent!"  I asked Emmett how he felt, and he said with some surprise, "I felt like that was funny."  It was so cute.

My kids may have not felt like they felt the Spirit in the way they normally feel the Spirit, but I did and it was just as strong as ever.  You can feel close to the Spirit when you're happy, and even amid humor, and especially when a 17 year old boy shows selfless kindness to a stranger's children so that they can see the prophet . . . you can definitely feel the Spirit then!

This is me, Emmett, Tyson, and Nate - our new forever friend from Deer Valley.

 Here's the prophet on the way back from the cornerstone.

Here's Miles watching from Mitch's shoulders--we would have considered letting him stand by Nate if he hadn't previously walked thru people's legs & right under the chain to try to march his little self into the temple - as if he owned the place. :)  He was so happy to be there & he was jabbering to strangers about the temple & pointing to it.

Not going to lie, the water coolers were an equally main attraction of the day.

 I'm so happy Mike, Erin, Hudson, & Lexi were crazy enough to wake up early and come with us.  They helped us get ready faster & out the door sooner, and they helped us enjoy the morning much better than being alone - Hudson & Miles are best friends.

The extra mortar ran out RIGHT BEFORE our group, so we didn't get to use the tools, but we were able to smooth it into the cracks with our fingers.

 Erin got snagged by the media to be on the 5 o'clock news.  Who wouldn't want to talk to a beautiful red head with a darling infant?  She did great being put on the spot.

 Hudson wanted to be in the picture with us - besides the fact that I love him like he's my own & feel like he fits right in with us - I also felt like his desire to be in a picture with us was foreshadowing to what's about to come...in just a few months, we will have 4 boys of our own.  Oh my goodness gracious!

 Waiting for the shuttle bus

 When we got on the "to-bus" and the "from-bus" back & forth from the temple, I was disappointed, because neither of our drivers ended up being my father-in-law.  Come to find out, though, if he had been our driver, we wouldn't have really had a moment to talk to him.  When we arrived back at the parking lot, who do you think was the driver in the empty bus behind us?  DALE!  It was so great - we actually had a moment to say hi and for the boys to give him a hug as he waited for the bus in front of him to empty.  I felt like it was the PERFECT ending to the PERFECT morning - a morning that turned out FAR BETTER than I had ever imagined.

When it was all said and done, we got back to our part of the valley, and watched the 2nd dedication session from our stake center.  My dad came to join us so he could spend time with us & Mike & Erin, too - they weren't with us at the Gilbert Temple Dedication because they still lived in DC.  So my dad took advantage of the opportunity to spend time with them in this temple dedication, too.  He's such a busy man.  It means so much to me that he purposely tries to make opportunities to spend with his kids...even though we're "grown-up" kids, we need that time with him as much now as we did when we were little.  The Spirit was so strong - it made me remember that amazing day in the Gilbert Temple Dedication earlier this year & the way I felt there.  In many, many ways, the Phoenix Temple Dedication felt exactly the same - just as powerful, just as tender, just as sweet.  

Especially because of the eventful morning we had watching the cornerstone as the symbolic completion of the temple, this particular quote really hit home to me during the 2nd session: 

“Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness.”—President George Q. Cannon

What a day.  It was a day that makes me want, at all the truly important events we may have opportunities to attend, to be able to say, "We were there!"