Temple moments: The temple nearby

John H. Nielson built his life around the Manti Temple. As a youngster, John could look from the window of his home, just up the street from the temple, and see its ornate towers. The temple was important to him even as a child, because, as was the practice in Manti in the 1920s, children were baptized in the temple font when they reached age 8.

He was excited when his baptism day arrived. "They made it special for those who were entering the temple for the first time," he reflected. "They took me on a tour of the temple and showed me the tower and staircases. The whole experience of being there was impressive."He soon returned to the temple's baptismal font and was baptized in behalf of those who lived before. Because he lived nearby, he was called upon frequently to do baptisms for the dead, he said.

As the years passed, the temple again loomed large in significance in his life. In 1954, he married his bride, Renae, a childhood friend, in the nearby edifice.

"When we were married, we knew there was little opportunity for people to stay here [in MantiT because of the lack of employment," he said. "We decided that we'd like to stay here and raise our family."

One of his jobs was that of temple recorder. "In those days, employees were expected to donate considerable time," he remembered. To support his family, he accepted other jobs around town and worked wherever he could. In 1972, he was hired as full-time recorder, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. The Nielsons continue to attend the temple often.

"We almost lived inside the temple," he said.

During his career, he served with seven presidents.

"It has been a great privilege to associate with the wonderful people who work in the temple, and who come to the temple," said Brother Nielson.

He also saw the temple district shrink - from a massive area that stretched from Nevada to the Mississippi River - to include just central and southeastern Utah. During the period of the district shrinking, however, temple work expanded. "It took 95 years to complete the first 100,000 endowments," he said. "Since then, we've exceeded 100,000 endowments every year but one."

And there to keep track of them all was Brother Nielson, once a little boy excited to enter the pioneer temple.

"Some people talk as though they live within the temple's shadow," he said. "But for us, the temple doesn't cast a shadow; it radiates light." - John L. Hart

(Another in a series of "Temple Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

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