THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The power of the priesthood invoked by a living prophet changed a building into a House of the Lord on Sunday, Sept. 8.
Early that morning, throngs of faithful saints lined the walkway leading to the front door of the newest temple in the Church. As a car rolled to a stop and President Gordon B. Hinckley stepped out onto the sidewalk, the strains of a hymn floated through the morning breeze and greeted the beloved leader, "We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days." In today's troubled times, these inspired words seem ever so relevant. On this glorious day in the Netherlands they rang even more valid as President Hinckley illuminated the lives of the members in The Hague Temple District. The temple received a prophet's blessing of dedication and was validated in the sight of the Lord as His 114th house on the earth today.
Assisting President Hinckley in the four dedicatory services were Elder D. Lee Tobler and Elder Harold G. Hillam of the Seventy, presidents of the Europe Central and Europe West areas, respectively. This uncommon occurrence was brought about by a realignment of the two areas, the Netherlands being placed in the Europe West Area as of July 1 this year.
As part of the first dedicatory service, Elder Tobler and Elder Hillam accompanied President Hinckley to the left front corner of the temple where the cornerstone box had been placed. It contained historical documents and Church items of interest. President Hinckley troweled the final mortar in place to seal the cornerstone of the temple.
A multi-stake choir rendered beautiful music for the cornerstone ceremony. Outstanding choral music was a great part of each of the four dedication services. Five different choirs represented stakes in Belgium and the Netherlands.
At each dedicatory service, the temple and chapels in Rotterdam and The Hague were filled with worthy members who enjoyed this singular opportunity to witness the dedication of their temple.
Truly a great impact has already been felt, from government and city officials, to each of the 32,819 guests who experienced a guided tour during the temple open house. Even those who performed the physical labor on the building felt something was different than working on other buildings.
Construction workers and their families gathered together to tour the temple. It was a solemn and gratifying occasion for them as they viewed the finished structure which displays great skill and craftsmanship. Ad Backens, project manager for the construction company, said, "The difference between this and other jobs was the use of top quality material and certain rules needed to be followed. There was to be no swearing, no smoking and no alcohol on the job and all our people showed respect and understanding for this."
During the building process, his attitude about this being just another job changed, he said. "More and more, I felt that what we were building was unique; this was going to be a temple in which members of your church would find inner peace, and I was convinced that this was really the greatest structure I have ever been able to build."
Each of these new offerings to the Lord is unique and the one in Zoetermeer is no exception. It is seven meters below sea level. Patrons can ride bicycles and enjoy the accommodation of a large bicycle parking area incorporated with the car parking lot underneath the temple.
Zoetermeer enjoys a central location in the Netherlands; access to the temple for even the most distant members in the temple district is just a pleasant drive by car or an easy train ride. Faithful members say temple activity will increase greatly now that they have they own temple and can attend on a regular basis instead of the long drive to Frankfurt.
As with other new temples, total Church activity and faithfulness is expected to increase in the lives of the people here. The temple has already made a great impact on the country and its people.
Feelings were expressed by Robert and Jeane Kirschbaum, long-time members of the Church who live in Haarlam. They said: "We were baptized in 1946, a period in which the Church was not very popular in the Netherlands. Because of our membership, we experienced difficulties in our work and in our families. However, the gospel has been a guide in our marriage and family life. The values of the Church made us strong.
"We were very excited in 1999 to hear that the Church was going to build a temple here. It seemed that, immediately, difficulties started, but we overcame them all and now, you have no idea how blessed we feel having a temple in the Netherlands."