Lifetime of savings was well worth it just to see temple

Through the years, stories have been told about members who sacrificed their material possessions to travel to the temple.

But perhaps one of the most poignant stories of such sacrifice is told by Elder Robert L. Backman, an emeritus General Authority, who spoke of the William Daniels family in South Africa.Elder Backman lived in Cape Town, South Africa, from 1935-38, while his father, LeGrand T. Backman, served as president of the South African Mission. He was 12-years-old when he first met the Daniels family.

"They were the only people of color who were members of the branch, the Mowbray Branch in the Cape Town District," he related. "They were such faithful, dear people and were favorites among the missionaries.

"Brother Daniels saved all he possibly could from his meager wages as a laborer so he could come to the temple, realizing he couldn't even go in it when he came."

The priesthood was not extended to all worthy male members of the Church until 1978, when temple blessings were also given to all worthy members upon revelation received by President Spencer W. Kimball.

At that time, the closest temple for members in South Africa was the Salt Lake Temple, a 10,000-mile journey.

"When Brother Daniels was in his 70s he had enough money to make the trip to Salt Lake City," Elder Backman continued. "It took a lifetime of savings just for him to come here and see the temple. He had great faith.

"During his visit he just stood on North Temple and Main Street and looked up at the spires of the temple and said he would give his right arm to go up in that building.

"He returned to South Africa without being able to go in, but knew that one day his temple work would be done."

Years later in the 1980s, Brother Daniels' daughter, Alice, came to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed to her family. She was in her 70s at the time.

"I had the opportunity to perform the sealing ceremony for her parents, their family, and to seal Alice to her deceased husband," Elder Backman reflected.

"It was just a sweet experience for me because I knew her folks so well and knew how much they loved the Lord and how anxious they were to complete these ordinances that they were not able to do in their lifetime.

"It was an inspirational experience. As Alice kneeled at the altar dressed in white, she was surrounded by former missionaries and a former mission president who acted as proxy.

"It was a very tender scene. She was surrounded by those who had influenced her and she them." - Sheridan R. Sheffield

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