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What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

by | Sep. 23, 2015

Mormon Life

Learn how one man's goal has taken him all across the United States and Canada to some of North America's most beautiful cities and over 35 temples.

As a missionary serving in the Manchester New Hampshire Mission, I did not have a temple in my mission. So for two years I was content to teach others about the temple. It was awesome to see those I taught get baptized and eventually make it to the House of the Lord. However, near the end of my mission, my mission president, President Philip Stoker, challenged me to go to the temple weekly after I returned. He told me that he understood some weeks I might not be able to, but to set the goal, and strive towards it. So I did just that.

How My Goal Grew

When I returned home to Utah after my mission, I did pretty well keeping my goal. Then I got a job offer that required me to travel. Instead of letting this become a roadblock to my goal, I allowed this to expand my goal. As I prepared to drive to Tennessee, I decided to visit some temples along the way that I had never been to before. I thought it would be fun to visit more temples, maybe one day even all the temples in the United States, so I decided I would take some detours and visit the Vernal and Nauvoo Temples.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Vernal Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Nauvoo Illinois Temple

As the summer months waxed on, work hours became longer than I expected, and I had to fight for a chance to go to the temple, bartering with my co-workers to cover for me so I could go. For many weeks, it was so busy I was not able to attend at all. But when I could, I did. And at the end of the summer, as I started to drive home, I found myself once again taking some detours.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Snowflake Arizona Temple

I started to fall in love with temples and seeing all of the different rooms inside of them—the Denver Colorado, Gilbert and Snowflake Arizona, and so many others. I decided my wish was going to become a goal: I would visit every temple in the United States. On my way back to Utah, I ran into a curve ball that derailed my hopes of getting back into the “traditional” swing of things for an RM—school and dating. Instead I was asked to go work up in Williston, North Dakota, and, after praying about it, I accepted.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Denver Colorado Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Gilbert Arizona Temple

How I Visited Five Temples in One Day

For the two months I was in North Dakota I had the chance to go to Bismarck once, but did not have the chance to go to the temple there. So when my time in North Dakota drew to an end, I made a plan. On my way home I wanted to visit as many temples I could. I left Williston at 6 p.m. on Monday night. I drove to the Rexburg Temple, arriving at 5 a.m. Realizing I did not have time for an endowment session, and knowing I would not be able to stay awake, I participated in sealings. After that, I proceeded to visit Idaho Falls, Logan, Brigham City, and finally Ogden, participating in the same ordinance. In the end, I made it to 5 temples in one day. It was awesome.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Idaho Falls Idaho Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Logan Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Brigham City Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Ogden Utah Temple

How My Dating Life Increased My Temple Attendance

Upon returning to  my Young Single Adult ward in Utah, I learned that another of my former mission presidents, David Wilkey, was a new institute teacher in my stake. As I saw him every week, I would report to either him or his wife on my progress in life. At one point, they wanted me to set a goal to go on more dates. But I explained that as a missionary, you can rationalize rejection saying the person did not want to accept Christ or the gospel, but dating...dating rejection meant they did not like me personally. We talked about the temple and how that can give us the courage to do hard things. That is when I decided to set a new goal. "Every time I ask a girl on a date and she says no, I'll go to the temple." So my goal continued to evolve.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple

At first, I did not think much of it. I loved going to the temple. It always reminded me of my value. But as I started going to the temple every time I was turned down for a date, I realized I was going to the temple often.

One of my favorite—and funniest—memories from this experience came when I was called to be the YSA Temple Chair for my ward. A brand-new member of the Bishopric asked me, "I don't know much about you. Do you go to the temple often?”

Thanks to my new goal, I replied, "Only five times this week so far."

How the Temple Protected Me from a Hurricane

Recently, I decided to visit my mission in New England after my summer job ended.

As I planned my trip, I figured the best way to go from South Carolina to New England was via Miami, Florida. As I made my way south, I stopped by the Orlando Temple in the morning before continuing on to Miami. But as night approached, a horrible storm rolled in--the remnant of a hurricane. I arrived at the temple right before it hit, finding safety in the Fort Lauderdale Temple, which has now become one of my favorites.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Orlando Florida Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple

But despite avoiding a hurricane, to me the most exciting part of my temple trip to New England was going to the Boston Temple. I was given a full tour of temple and learned so much about how a temple works. My favorite part was learning how they repair temples and how non-members help in this work.

In a nutshell, non-members are allowed to help with the repairs with two stipulations: 1) they must be escorted by a temple worker at all times and 2) they can work on any room in the temple except the Celestial room. I love the idea of non-members and members working so closely together to make something beautiful and the symbolism that, even in repair work, all those who enter the Celestial room must be born again.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Boston, Massachusetts Temple

How My Goal Became a Passion

Now I am back traveling and working outside of Utah. With a job that requires me to travel and work extremely long hours, going to the temple weekly has been a challenge, but it’s always something worth striving for. And I’ve found while recently living in the South, where temples are harder to access than in Utah, I savor the experience all the more.

When I first set the goal of attending every temple in the United States, I figured it would be a long-term goal. But it has turned into a passion, and I find myself often plotting when I can go to the next temple.

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Kansas City Missouri Temple

Because of the nature of my goal, I've been to the temple a lot. And I've learned how the temple can help me personally. It helps with my challenges—everything from dealing with stress at work to helping prepare for a test for school to managing my dating life. I've learned a temple is a place of refuge and recharging—a place that no matter how discouraged I become, reminds me of my royal lineage and my potential. I may walk into the temple fighting discouragement and doubt, but I always walk out of the temple with a renewed determination to be a valiant son of God and to work towards receiving all the blessings the temple has to offer.

But I also know life has unexpected turns and goals can change. I just make sure that the temple is always a part of those goals.

As of now, my goals are the following:

  • Attend the temple weekly.
  • Visit every temple in the United States.
  • Go to the temple every time I am told "no" for a date.

How I've Progressed in My Goal So Far

Here are some measurements of these goals since I returned from my mission in January 2014:

Temples visited: 37/71

Most temples visited in a single day: 5

Most temples visited in a single week: 7

Most baptisms officiated at in a single day: 200

Most confirmations officiated at in a single day: 300

Most endowment sessions attended in a single day: 2

Most initiatory ordinances done in a single day: 30

Most sealings participated in in a single day: 50

Longest trip just to visit temples: 400+ miles (Four temples: San Diego, Los Angeles, Newport, and Redlands)

And for kicks:

Total times going to the temple so far this year: 51

Temple I was endowed in: Mount Timpanogos

Temple I want to visit the most: Washington D.C. (But Rome, once it opens)

Temple I want to be sealed in: Salt Lake City

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Atlanta Georgia Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Bismark North Dakota Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Columbia South Carolina Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Draper Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Jordan River Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Las Vegas Nevada Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Louisville Kentucky Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Memphis Tennessee Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Nashville Tennessee Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Newport Beach California Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Oakland California Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Provo Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Redlands California Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Reno Nevada Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Rexburg Idaho Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Saint George Utah Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Saint Louis Missouri Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

San Diego California Temple

What I've Learned from My Goal to Visit All the Temples in North America (+Photos)

Jeremy Goff was born in Denver and raised in Orem, Utah. He served a mission in the Manchester New Hampshire Mission (’12-’14). He is passionate about many things: he blogs, loves food, family, politics, and religion. He travels for work and loves to visit temples and share the gospel along the way!

Follow Jeremy’s journey on his blog mylifebygogogoff.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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