Each temple has stories about its unique construction plans and opposition faced along the way. Accompanying these stories are miracles that manifest the Lord's own way of making sure everything pieces together for His holy temples. Here are six inspiring examples.
1. The First Presidency and a Fire Chief
Boise Idaho Temple
During the open house for the Boise Idaho Temple in 1984, Church officials worked to obtain an occupancy permit to accommodate the many Saints who wanted to attend the fast-approaching dedicatory services. The projected number of attendees far exceeded the number deemed reasonable by Boise’s fire safety codes. Early one morning, architect Ronald W. Thurber called the city’s fire chief and invited him to a personally guided tour of the entire temple. An appointment was made for 10 a.m. that day. Brother Thurber immediately notified Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the General Authority assisting with the temple, who agreed to arrive at the temple half an hour early. As Brother Thurber, Elder Pinnock, and other Church officials gathered in the temple president’s office, Elder Pinnock told the others that he had called the First Presidency in Salt Lake City that morning and told them of the challenge. The First Presidency had put the item on the prayer roll that day and would be praying during their weekly meeting in the temple, which happened to coincide with Brother Thurber’s tour with the fire chief.
At 10 a.m. the fire chief arrived and was given a private tour of the temple. Afterward, he agreed to grant the temple a permit for unlimited occupancy, as long as a few safety procedures were followed. After the fire chief drove away, the group returned to the president’s office to give a prayer of thanks. Brother Thurber was asked to pray and later said, “I was in such tears I could hardly pray. The First Presidency had taken a particular issue and solved it by imploring the assistance of Heavenly Father.”
2. A Special Dream
Houston Texas Temple
Richard Gieseke, a Church member and owner of a small landscaping nursery in Houston, played a special role in beautifying the grounds of the Houston Texas Temple. One night, a few months before the temple was announced, he dreamed of gardens adorning an unknown temple. “The dream was so vivid,” he recorded, “that I awoke and wrote a letter to the First Presidency of the Church and filed it for later use. The unusual dream was of a beautiful temple with lovely gardens in special arrangements. From the dream I knew the Lord wanted me to begin growing plants at my nursery for the temple.”
And he did just that, using his filed-away letter when the temple was announced three months after his dream. Six months before his dream, Brother Gieseke had unexpectedly acquired 100 four-year-old oaks. For a reason he cannot explain, he planted the trees in containers larger than usual. After the dream, he designated the finest of the oaks and the best of his other plant material exclusively for future temple grounds. He made every effort to ensure that his temple stock were of “uncommon excellence.” As time passed, his specially designated temple plants grew in size, quality, and value. On many occasions he had opportunities to sell the trees to fill orders that were otherwise unfillable, but he remained firm in his decisions that these plants were for the temple. In retrospect, Brother Gieseke recognizes how he and his nursery business were blessed during this several-year period. Just before he had his dream, his nursery had consisted of six acres. Within a few years he had the opportunity to acquire a prosperous 40-acre nursery and a 50-acre tree farm. Three years after his dream, the plant stock Brother Gieseke nurtured for the Lord’s house finally had a permanent home on the grounds of the Houston Texas Temple. The majestic trees now stand at the front of the temple’s entryway, and his flowers provide the perfect contrasting color against the exterior.
3. Music Stands and Snow Shovels
Billings Montana Temple
A hearty storm blew in for the March 1998 groundbreaking of the Billings Montana Temple, taking Church members and guest dignitaries by surprise. The 4,800 people—from 12 states and two Canadian provinces—in attendance braved freezing temperatures, fog, and snow to be there for the occasion. Teeth chattered as a 700-member youth choir sang “Now Let Us Rejoice.”
The spring snowstorm had caught the majority of the attendees off guard; and lacking a sufficient number of snow shovels, many used inverted music stands to push away the snow and ice. The weather worsened at the passing of each hour. One loyal sister in her sixties had arrived two hours early to ensure she would have a front-row seat. Swathed in a blanket under an umbrella, she sat on a lawn chair for more than four hours. When she rose, the perfectly dry ground beneath her chair was ringed by snow five inches deep!
One young man displaying an optimistic attitude remarked that “The Lord blessed the groundbreaking today with snow to make this temple ground white and pure.” Later, Church members learned that the spring snowstorm was a blessing indeed. A large anti-Latter-day Saint organization from northern Wyoming had planned to disrupt the groundbreaking proceeding. Not one protestor was able to reach the temple site because of the hazardous weather and travel conditions.
4. A Special Session
London England Temple
For decades, the London England and Bern Switzerland Temples were the only temples on the European continent. They served a large geographical area that includes districts on the African continent. Many members made tremendous sacrifices to attend these temples, knowing that a temple trip could be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
In the late 1980s, a couple from Ghana in western Africa saved their money and traveled to the London Temple on an uncomfortable freight vessel. They arrived in England on a Friday night and awoke the next morning eager to visit the temple. With the help of a deckhand from the freighter, they found the temple Saturday afternoon. Their anticipation turned to sorrow when they learned that the temple was closed on Saturday afternoons; the last session of the day had begun a half hour before their arrival. The temple would reopen the following Tuesday—the same time their freighter would be returning to Ghana.After traveling a vast distance at a great cost, the couple was overwhelmed with anguish and feared their dreams of achieving temple blessings would not be realized. They broke into tears.
Arthur Henry King, who served as president of the London England Temple from 1986 to 1990, soon learned of the couple’s plight. President King arranged for a few temple workers and local members to participate in a special, additional session that day. His actions allowed this humble African couple to receive their endowments and the sealing ordinance that afternoon. They left the temple late in the day filled with peace and joy found in temple blessings.
5. Many Hands Make Light Work
Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple
In June 2000, the Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple was ready to be faced with Imperial Danby white marble. Many of the smaller temples built at this time—including the temple in Baton Rouge—used this beautiful marble, acquired from a quarry near Sharon, Vermont, birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Truckloads of the beautiful white stone were arriving daily.
One evening, an 18-wheel truck arrived at the construction site after hours. Only the marble foreman was still on site to receive the shipment of 10 crates of marble, each weighing three-quarters of a ton. The foreman unladed two crates with a forklift before a hydraulic line on it broke, rendering the machine useless. A few phone calls were made, and within 15 minutes 25 strong men were there, ready to assist with the seemingly insurmountable task. The truck driver made an attempt to help the situation by backing the truck closer to the temple. But in doing so, he managed only to get stuck in a pile of sand.
The young men went to work and unloaded the remaining eight crates, totaling approximately 15,000 pounds of marble. They then went the extra mile by placing the marble, piece by piece, around the temple where workers could use it as it was needed. Through the entire process, only one piece of marble was broken.
After transporting all the marble, the young men focused their efforts on freeing the stranded truck. In a unified effort of strength, they managed to rock the big semitruck off the sand pile. All of the evening’s diligent labors required only one and one-half hour’s time.
6. Salvaged Lumber
Laie Hawaii Temple
When the Laie Hawaii Temple was built in the early 1900s, the island of Oahu was quite remote. This made it difficult to receive shipments of building materials, such as lumber and other supplies. Several creative means were employed to get around the problem.
For example, crushed lava and coral (both easily available on the island) were added to the concrete that was used to form the entire edifice, including the floors, celings, walls, and roof. But even with this innovation, construction often had to wait while contractors tried to locate missing materials. At one point, construction was at a standstill due to a lack of lumber. Contractor Ralph Woolley prayed for help in obtaining the needed supplies. Two days later, during a severe storm, a freight ship was stranded on a nearby coral reef. The captain offered the Saints his cargo of lumber if they would help him unload his ship. The Saints agreed, and the work on the temple resumed.
Adapted from Holy Places: True Stories of Faith and Miracles from Latter-day Temples by Chad Hawkins. Now available as an eBook on deseretbook.com. Read more temple miracles in Temples of the New Millennium by Chad Hawkins.