"Mom, look! They've got cows!"
Temple tour guides Ron and Mary Beth Larsen couldn't help but chuckle as a boy at the Cedar City Utah Temple open house took in the 12 oxen holding up the baptism font, but there was also no denying the awe that was felt by all in attendance.
That's because, after two years of construction, the undeniably exquisite Cedar City temple was finally finished, coming together like "a beautiful piece of music," Mary Beth shares.
Moving through the temple hallways with disposable shoe covers, Mary Beth and her husband, Ron, were more than happy to spend a few hours on Nov. 4 and 11 leading others through the temple, showing them the rooms where sacred work would soon be performed.
But though they expected many in their tour groups would be inspired by the temple's beauty, they did not expect the tender prompting or miraculous answer to a dream that would come to them because of the open house.
The Unexpected Prompting
If increased traffic, booked hotels, and crowded restaurants were any indication, the Cedar City Temple open house was not lacking attendees.
"There were a lot of people," Ron says. "I heard 180,000 people came, and when you look at Cedar City being about 20,000, that's a lot."
Mary Beth says they led people through the temple who had waited two to three hours in line just to get inside. But, as Ron notes, no one seemed upset by the wait. In fact, most people in their tour groups were amazed once they saw the marble floors imported from Turkey, the historic stained glass windows, and the detailed carvings inside the temple's interior.
During one of the tours, Mary Beth says she couldn't help but notice one young man in his mid-20s lingering in the back with his parents. He was dressed well but appeared to be "a little rough around the edges," Ron says, and Mary Beth could tell by the questions he was asking that he was not an active member of the Church. And though they were instructed to "let the temple do the talking," as they entered the celestial room as part of their tour, Mary Beth suddenly felt an overwhelming prompting to talk with the man.
"I just got a really strong impression, a really strong feeling that he needed to go back [to the temple] for himself," Mary Beth remembers. "And I'm like, 'Well I can't talk to him here, I can't talk to him in the celestial room.' But I just kept getting that feeling . . . so as we were walking out . . . I grabbed his arm and I said, 'I don't know why I have to tell you this but I just have to tell you, you need to come back here for you.'"
Ron, who was standing nearby, says he saw the man begin to cry as he replied "Yes, I do.'"
It was an unexpected prompting, and she has no idea if the man will return to the temple one day, but Mary Beth says she knew that was what that man needed to hear.
"I hope that he was able to feel what I felt when I said that," she says. "That there is someone as concerned about his eternal well-being as I am."
And the couple were not the only ones watching out for the eternal well-being of the open house attendees.
The Miraculous Answer
Ron shares another miraculous story, told to him by a fellow worker.
A woman and a man were traveling north along the I-15 highway when they saw signs pointing them to an "event." After deciding to find out what this "event" was, the couple followed the signs and found themselves at an LDS stake center where buses with "Bryce Canyon" on the side were waiting to ferry crowds up to the open house.
Figuring that the event must be at Bryce Canyon, the couple hopped on a bus. But when the bus didn't stop at a ski resort, the couple decided to join a group touring the temple anyway. As the tour progressed and they were led into the baptistry, the woman soon realized she was meant to be there all along.
"It was interesting because the woman said she had lost her mother and her mother had come back to her in a dream after she died and said, 'I'm really worried because things aren't done. Things aren't finished on earth for me.' And she always thought that really weird."
As she learned about the work that can be done for the dead, suddenly what her mother said in her dream made sense.
"She just knew that this was true," Ron says about the woman. "She knew that it was something that her mother had basically set up for them to learn more about it."
Ron says the couple went on to speak with the missionaries, but both he and Mary Beth know the couple and young man are not the only ones who were deeply influenced by the open house, nor will the spirit of the temple cease to influence others now that the open house is over.
"It's kind of like putting your glasses on when you take them off at night and you put your glasses on the next morning or you put your contacts in and all the sudden, it's like, 'Oh my gosh, I can see across the room,'" Mary Beth says about the special spirit the temple brings into our lives. "It's kind of like that. You can see things a little more clearly and it reminds you of what's really important."