Shortly after a fire decimated the town of Paradise, California, Latter-day Saints arrived in the Deseret Book store in Sacramento, California. Though many had lost their homes and jobs, these Saints made the long drive to replace those supplies that were invaluable to them.
"I recall the day after the fire started, the very first customers we had was an older couple—who still smelled of fire—and with tears, [they] shared how their home and all their belongings were burnt to the ground, but the first thing they knew they wanted to do was to come and buy garments and temple clothes so they could go to the temple," recalls Chelynn Hutchison, the store manager. "I remember, after helping them, going in the backroom and just crying, seeing the faith of this dear couple." Another couple who came in to replace their temple garments and temple clothing told Hutchison, “The fire can burn all we own, but it can’t burn our testimony.”
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For me, this story puts into perspective the sacredness of our temple garment and clothing. In his April 2001 general conference address "Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings," President Russell M. Nelson taught:
"Wearing the temple garment has deep symbolic significance. It represents a continuing commitment. Just as the Savior exemplified the need to endure to the end, we wear the garment faithfully as part of the enduring armor of God. Thus we demonstrate our faith in Him and in His eternal covenants with us."
A part of wearing our temple garment and clothing faithfully includes disposing of this clothing in the proper way. The first day we receive our endowment, however, we often receive so much information and enjoy so many life-changing experiences it can be easy to forget the counsel we receive regarding the temple garment and clothing.
The Church's Handbook 2: Administering to the Church instructs Latter-day Saints:
"To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment."
"To dispose of worn-out temple ceremonial clothing, members should destroy the clothing by cutting it up so the original use cannot be recognized.
"Members may give garments and temple clothing that are in good condition to other worthy endowed members. The bishop can identify those who might need such clothing. Under no circumstances should members give garments or temple ceremonial clothing to Deseret Industries, bishops’ storehouses, or charities."
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As Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to have this sacred clothing. As Elder J. Richard Clark noted:
"Sacred temple clothing is a shield and protection against Satan. As you receive your endowments in the temple, you receive the privilege of wearing the sacred temple clothing and the garments of the holy priesthood. The garments are a tangible reminder of your covenants with God. . . . The temple garment reminds us that virtue sets us apart from the world and, in a special way, makes us one with God (“The Temple—What It Means to You,” New Era, Apr. 1993, 4).