San Diego Temple: 45th house of the Lord dedicated in 'season for temple building'

"This is the season in the history of the Church for temple building."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, made this assessment at one of the dedicatory sessions of the new San Diego California Temple, which was dedicated in 23 sessions from April 25-30. A total of 49,273 persons attended the sessions.The San Diego temple district includes some 80,000 members in 21 stakes in four Southern California counties and in five stakes and a mission district in northern Mexico. (See May 1 Church News for story on the dedication and full text of the dedicatory prayer.)

Participating with President Hinckley in the dedication of the temple was President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency. they shared responsibilities in presiding at and conducting the sessions. President Hinckley conducted 13 sessions, including the cornerstone session, and President Monson, 11 sessions.

"As we dedicate this temple," President Hinckley said at one of the sessions, "we are thinking about others."

The San Diego temple is the 45th operating temple in the Church. Twenty-two are located in the United States and 23 are outside the United States. "Something wonderful is happening [in the building of temples]. It's a miracle," President Hinckley declared.

He said more temples have been built within the past 12 years (since he was called as a member of the First Presidency) than all the rest of the history of the Church combined. "I have had the special blessing of participating in the dedication or rededication of all but five of the 45 temples."

He told of going to Spain twice recently to look at possible sites for a new temple there. A temple in Spain was announced at April general conference. He also spoke of progress being made on some of the other temples that are in planning stages, such as in Bogota, Colombia, and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

"People all over the world long for what you now have," President Hinckley told the session-goers. "Brothers and sisters, be grateful."

But, he cautioned, members of the Church "must never lose sight" of the purpose of temples.

"The whole purpose is to provide a place where we can worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, exercise the priesthood that has been restored in its fullness and receive the blessings that are administered only in these holy houses."

President Hinckley spoke of the beauty of temples, and told of the craftmanship involved in the building of the Nauvoo, Manti and Salt Lake temples. Speaking of the Salt Lake Temple, he said, "I never get over the wonder and beauty of that building.

"We have been criticized," he continued, "for spending so much on the building of temples and asked why not spend the money taking care of the poor.

"Nothing is too good for the Lord. Temples don't have to be ostentatious, but they do have to be of high quality. We wouldn't want to give a shabby kind of building to the Lord, whom we love."

President Hinckley then mentioned how the Church is helping the poor and needy.

"The Church has done generous and marvelous things to take care of the poor. The Church has spent millions and millions of dollars to help those across the world who are not members of the Church."

In the final session that President Hinckley presided at before returning to Salt Lake City on April 28, he said: "For 14 meetings, I have looked in the faces of people, wonderful people, people who pray, people who have in their hearts a love of God, people who believe in eternal truths, people who are willing to sacrifice in time and effort to serve others.

"There is something tremendous about service in the house of the Lord," President Hinckley explained. "God has provided opportunities for His children to partake of something that is far sweeter than what is available in mortality."

In the sessions at which President Monson presided, he often quoted from President Ezra Taft Benson at the groundbreaking ceremony for the temple in February 1988, at which the prophet turned over the first shovelful of sod. "I don't know any one who loves the temple more than the prophet of the Lord, Ezra Taft Benson," President Monson said. "If you want an example of faithful temple attendance, look to President and Sister Benson."

President Monson also frequently mentioned the young people attending the temple dedication. "It's important for young people to prepare themselves for when they come to the temple," he explained. At one session, President Monson called up from the congregation a young girl, "symbolic of all young people in the temple," to briefly stand with him at the pulpit. On the final day of the dedicatory sessions, he called up Lachelle Packard, 13, granddaughter of the Floyd L. and Alice E. Packard, president and matron of the temple, to bear her testimony.

Speaking to the young people, President Monson said, "While you won't remember everything we say, I hope you remember the feelings you felt while in the temple."

In his addresses, President Monson gave many accounts of faith and commitment to illustrate various principles of the gospel, such as eternal families, service to others, sacrifice, prayer and tithing. He also told of some of his experiences while stationed in San Diego with the Navy.

In one session, he told of Gustav Wacker, a German-Canadian who was president of the Kingston Branch in Ontario, when President Monson was president of the Canadian Mission. "He was a barber by trade. I looked at his tithing record, and the tithing he was paying was far more than a barber would pay. So I decided to talk to his wife about it."

President Monson told Sister Wacker that the Lord only required 10 percent in tithing. "Oh, I know," she told President Monson, "but my husband and I, we love to pay it." President Monson then said he talked with Brother Wacker and asked him why he was paying so much tithing. "Perhaps the Lord needs my money elsewhere," came the reply.

At that time the Kingston Branch was meeting in a rented hall. "Why don't you put a little of it in a chapel fund and let just 10 percent go to the Lord as tithing?" President Monson asked him. "Oh, Brother Monson, there may be other people in other parts of the world who need a building more than we do."

President Monson said Brother Wacker never owned a car, and would not take any money cutting the missionaries' hair and often would give them money to take a taxi home if it were raining, so they wouldn't catch cold. "Then he would bundle his coat up around his ears and walk home in the rain," President Monson said.

Several years later, the Wackers served a mission in Germany and later served as temple workers in the Washington Temple. Brother Wicker died while serving in the temple, "dressed in white, symbolic of the purity of the soul," said President Monson.

"There are people like Gustav Wacker all over this Church whose contributions have made possible this beautiful temple," President Monson continued. "Any wonder that it is sanctified. Any wonder that we feel the Spirit of the Lord here."

In another session, he told the experience of Walter Krause, who traveled from Mecklenburg, near Berlin, to Hungary to perform a home teaching visit.

"Walter Krause, who was also a patriarch, knocked on the door of Johann Denndorfer, who had not had a home teacher nor a visitor from the Church in over 35 years," President Monson related.

"When Brother Krause entered his home, Brother Denndorfer did not take his hand, but asked him to wait; then he went to his bedroom, retrieved a little trunk from beneath the bed, brought it forward, placed it on the table, and took from it tithing of 35 years. He handed it to his home teacher, whom he had never met but who spoke his same language, and then said, "Now I feel worthy to shake the hand of a servant of the Lord."

Brother Krause gave Brother Denndorfer a patriarchal blessing and promised him that he would have the privilege of going to the temple, which seemed impossible at the time. Every time Brother Denndorfer had tried to obtain permission to go to the temple in Switzerland, permission was denied. "Try again," the home teacher admonished. "And he tried again, and this time permission came," said President Monson.

Brother Denndorfer went to the temple in Switzerland, received his endowment and participated in sealing ordinances, and then was instrumental in performing the ordinance work for more than 300 of his forebears.

"In the book of Isaiah," explained President Monson, "we read that God's ways are higher than man's ways, and surely as we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding, He will direct our path."

President Monson spoke of eternal families in one of the sessions, and said when he was bishop of a west Salt Lake City ward he spoke at many funerals because in the ward was a large, older population, including 86 widows.

At the time of separation between a husband and wife at death, "If we have heard the words `for time and all eternity,' then grief gives way and the heart is comforted. Life is not terminated at the grave. You just say goodbye until we meet tomorrow. There is a lot of difference between saying goodbye forever and saying goodbye until we meet tomorrow," said President Monson.

"My prayer is that we qualify to be forever families and help others to be forever families," he continued.

In another session, President Monson admonished members to "come to the temple and place your burdens before the Lord and you'll be filled with a new spirit and confidence in the future. Trust in the Lord, and if you do He'll hold you and cradle you and lead you step by step along that pathway that leads to the celestial kingdom of God.

"Make the temple part of your lives. The temple can bring you the supreme feeling of peace."

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