International Series: The Blessings of Distant Temples

We are thrilled to feature new voices and new perspectives, many from women who are posting for the first time in English. Their voices have been missing from the conversation about gender and Mormonism, and their posts highlight the diverse experiences of LDS women throughout the global church.

Today’s post comes from Sandrine.

Sandrine

When I lived in France I was jealous of Americans who lived close to temples. I lived in the south-west of France and was in the Swiss Temple district – about an 11 hour drive. Now that I have lived in the United States for about 13 years I can see that I had no reason to be jealous.

It is really nice to be able to go to the temple anytime you want to and I’m sure it has been an amazing blessing for a lot of people. But, for me personally I have never experienced anything memorable at the temple since living in the U.S. Let me explain.

In my ward in France, we would plan one temple trip a year. For the French, eleven hours is a big drive. And, deciding to go on the temple trip wasn’t a simple decision. When we go to the temple we would stay at the temple for the entire week. We had to plan the vacation days and the finances to stay for the week. Everybody plans on bringing their groceries for the week. Obviously, we wouldn’t actually stay at the temple, but at a maison d’hôte. This is a church-owned house right next to the temple where you can sleep and cook, but it’s not free.

We get ready to go to the temple as a ward. We set goals. We have to think of the temple months before we go. Everybody is trying to get closer to Heavenly Father. I could feel our ward get stronger together. We drive to the temple together, sleep together, work in the temple together. The only reason we are there is to go to the temple so we work in the temple all day. I don’t think that there is anything comparable to staying one week straight at the temple. Because the maison d’hôte is mostly just an open room for everybody to sleep in, you hope that you have an uninterrupted night’s sleep. You go to sleep with a view of the temple lights and wake up, hopefully not in the middle of the night, with an amazing view of the Temple.

When I go to the Temple here in the U.S. I go like most people – for one session. It is only a two hour break in my day. This personally makes it too hard for me to focus on what is going on in the temple. I usually think of what we are going to eat for dinner, or if my lesson is ready for church, or what do I want to talk about with my husband on the way home.

When I would go to the temple for a week there wasn’t much to think about, not much to keep my mind busy because I had no responsibility for a while, no job or chores that needed to be done. I know what I’m going to eat and I know what I’m going to do. There are no distractions.

I can still remember—vividly after 15 years—how much I didn’t want to leave the temple. I was really tired and didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay awake for the last session of the day. But I decided to stay. I ended up very awake during that session and the spirit was very strong. I remember being really sad, knowing that I had to leave the temple. As I was walking to change my clothes I remember that the only think that I was thinking is “Can I hide somewhere in here? Can I sleep here?” I was starting to shake I so didn’t want to leave but they were going to close and I knew that I had to leave for the night. But, it was like my heart was ripping. I knew that the Lord had been there and could be there at that moment. I stayed on bench outside the temple for about 45 minutes. I finally was able to go only because I knew that I was not going far and would be coming back first thing in the morning.

On another one of these trips, I was able to be by myself in the Celestial room. This has never happened to me in all the times I have been to the temple in the U.S. I was able to pray on my knees on this very special floor and ask the Lord what was in my heart at that time – whether I should come to the United States. I had my answer. It was so neat to be able to do that. I wish so much for another experience like that.

Being in the temple for a week is like being in another world. There is no TV, no bad music, no conflicts, no distractions. I didn’t want to go back home. I didn’t miss anything. But, of course, once home everything goes back to normal. But still the experience and feelings in the Temple are always with me.

I’m just saying that going to one session a month may be nice and may recharge your batteries for the month but going to the Temple one week definitely recharges your batteries for the year.

Often at church I hear people saying we are so lucky because some people have to sacrifice a lot to go to the temple but what I know is, the more you have to sacrifice for something the more you realize what you have and the blessings are more felt and more remembered.

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10 Responses

  1. Em says:

    What a neat experience! I can’t say that I’ve ever gone to the temple for a week at a time. Our temple is about two hours away, and I will say I’ve always loved how going to the temple is an event. It always means going out for at least one meal, maybe two, and usually we do something in the city while we’re there. All told it means taking most of a day, and that does make it a lot more special and fun overall.

  2. EmilyCC says:

    I love this post! I’ve never lived further than 40 minutes away from a temple. I know I feel closer to members in our ward when I do a ward or stake temple day together. I like to imagine the camaraderie we might experience making such sacrifices and devoting so much time to temple work. (But, I prefer to just keep imagining 🙂 That’s a lot of planning and time to take off!)

    Thank you for sharing, Sandrine!

  3. Liz says:

    Sometimes I wonder if the whole point of going to the temple happens within us – that the rituals we perform inside aren’t nearly as important as the things we do to quiet our lives, attend, meditate, ponder, etc. I love the idea of taking an entire day to really dive in and contemplate, as well as the communal aspects you describe. Thank you!

    • Stargazer says:

      I like this too. I am going to find a way to have more preparation to go to the temple.

    • Caroline says:

      I like that idea, Liz. Thinking of attending the temple as a spiritual practice, like fasting, praying, etc. resonates more with me than ideas about how these rituals need to be done or people won’t get into heaven.

      Thanks so much for this post, Sandrine. What an interesting glimpse into Mormon life in France.

  4. EFH says:

    I think, for me too, going to the temple for a week would be a more meaningful experience because it provides enough time to separate yourself from the world, including your family, and focus on something spiritual constantly. I am thinking that maybe I should carve time to go to the temple all day every few months in order to give time to myself to tune in with the spirit and get the most out of this experience.

  5. Cruelest Month says:

    I am easily distracted and struggle to make a 2 hour temple visit a meditative and centered practice. I’ve always lived near a temple, but am now considering the benefit of extending my temple visits and planning for a long enough period to be able to forget about the outside world. Thank you for your post!

    • Em says:

      I would also struggle. I know it is more efficient to do several sessions in a row when you live far away than to drive 100 miles for just one session, or in my case, one round of initiatory. Yet it is so hard for me to want to start afresh having just finished! I’ve never done more than one session in a day, I wonder what it would be like.

  6. Joanna says:

    Sandrine is so right… ! I live in Norway, and we travel to Stockholm in Sweden to go to the temple. It is a 14 hour drive each way, so I have only ever gone there for at least 3 days at a time. When travelling to the States or other places in the world on holiday where there is a temple, we usually try to squeeze in a session – but I never feel as spiritually renewed or fed then, as when I get to stay at the temple for a whole week. I have always noticed that it sometimes takes me a couple of days to get into ‘temple mode’ when I am there. Just going to one session just won’t allow for me to calm down and focus enough as I want to. 🙂

  1. September 7, 2014

    […] It is really nice to be able to go to the temple anytime you want to and I’m sure it has been an amazing blessing for a lot of people. But, for me personally I have never experienced anything memorable at the temple since living in the U.S. Let me explain. In my ward in France, we would plan one temple trip a year. For the French, eleven hours is a big drive. And, deciding to go on the temple trip wasn’t a simple decision. When we go to the temple we …read more […]

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