Members enjoy blessings at dedication

Through trials, service, sacrifice and devotion, members of the Church in the southern United States enjoyed the blessings of the Orlando Florida Temple dedication. Saints young and old felt the Spirit in the new House of the Lord. They were able to be in the presence of the prophet, President Howard W. Hunter. Many non-English speaking members were able to hear the proceedings in their own language. Some found comfort in the temple in the face of personal hardships.

Elder Alvie Evans, a regional representative who served as vice chairman of the temple committee, made 82 trips by car from his home in Charleston, S.C., to prepare the temple for dedication. He paid tribute to the members of that committee and the hundreds of others who worked to prepare the temple for opening. Under efficient and courteous direction, some 4,000 volunteers took turns directing traffic and guiding members who came to the dedication to their seats in the temple.Temple dedications may be attended by LDS youth age 8 and older. At this dedication, hundreds of children and teenagers came with the enthusiasm of youth, perhaps not knowing what to expect, but invariably they appeared to be spiritually moved by the proceedings. At one session, President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, noted that a 10-year-old girl whose mother recently died sobbed as she sat in the celestial room. Perhaps, President Hinckley said, her tender heart was comprehending the significance of the sealing ordinances of the temple. After one session, two brothers embraced each other, tears streaming down their faces. One young woman, about 15, was overheard saying as she left the temple, "Now I know that I know the gospel is true!"

Logan Rohm, 13, of the Panama City Florida Stake, was fortunate enough to be sitting in the foyer area of the temple when President Hunter and his second counselor, President Thomas S. Monson, passed by on their way to the celestial room. Both shook Logan's hand. "Today, Oct. 9, 1994, is my 13th birthday, and I shook the hand of the prophet and President Monson," Logan said. "It's the greatest birthday I've ever had!"

Not only did members of various ages attend the dedication, but also of many walks of life. An entire session was devoted to Spanish-speaking members, with addresses either delivered in Spanish or translated into that language, and hymns sung in Spanish. Translation also was provided for Haitian, Creole, Portuguese, Cambodian and American Sign Language for the hearing impaired. (The temple, when it opened for regular ordinance work Wednesday, Oct. 12, provided instructions in 40 languages.)

Some members came only after exerting great personal effort. Cathy Payne of the Coral Springs Ward, Ft. Lauderdale Florida Stake, received a pass to leave a hospital in Miami to attend a dedicatory session Oct. 11. Sister Payne, who recently received a liver transplant, had planned to attend with her husband, Scott, and their two young daughters on Oct. 9, but as her body began rejecting the transplant, she was in no condition to travel from Miami that day. She told her husband to take their daughters to the dedication without her. The girls, ages 11 and 13, sitting by their father's side and missing their mother, wore dresses she had designed and had started to make for the occasion but which had been left to someone else to finish.

On Oct. 11, Sister Payne, accompanied by her husband, took a shuttle flight from Miami to Orlando. She was brought into the celestial room in a

wheelchair. President Hinckley and President Monson, speaking in that session, spoke directly to her, offering words of comfort and hope, and expressing admiration for her determination to come to the temple.

Sister Payne told the Church News: "I have known since they mentioned that a temple would be in Orlando that I had to be here for its dedication. I don't know why, but I just know beyond reason that I, personally, needed to be here. Coming here has been my fondest wish. I'm incredibly happy to be here." She said if she had a message to fellow Saints it would be, "Follow your heart where the things of the Church are concerned, and use the example that Jesus Christ Himself would follow."

President Monson called attention to a girl, about 8, in the celestial room on the morning of Oct. 11. As the choir sang, "Sweet Is the Work, My God, My King," the little girl mouthed the words. "Her voice, although inaudible, carried the conviction of her heart," President Monson said.

"A reality of dreams" was a phrase one Floridian used to describe the building and dedication of the Orlando temple. A temple in Florida is something that many could not comprehend even dreaming about just a generation ago. But while the Church has been small in membership in the South, the legacy of the gospel has deep roots in many families. Orlando temple Pres. Jack Joyner said his great-grandfather joined the Church more than 100 years ago. Pres. Joyner is a native of South Carolina who has also lived in Georgia.

President Hinckley, commenting on Pres. Joyner's family's devotion to the gospel, said he didn't know of any other area where there has been a deeper love and spirit of loyalty to the work of the Church and at same time more persecution and more anger vented against the members of the Church than in the Southern States. He spoke of eight members who are known to have been killed by mobs in the Southern States, and said he didn't know of another area where such has been the case. "Faithful Saints have carried the torch over so long a period," President Hinckley said.

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