Almost 160,000 people — including government, community and religious leaders from across Idaho — toured the new Twin Falls Idaho Temple during a public open house July 11 through Aug. 16.
"It was really a busy time, but it was an amazing experience," said Elder Brent H. Nielson, an Area Seventy from Twin Falls.
Elder Nielson said the temple committee had 136,000 tickets available for the open house, expecting 30 people to walk through the sacred building every five minutes. However, 159,863 people participated in the open house.
"We had 23,000 more than we had tickets for," he said.
The Twin Falls temple will be the fourth temple in Idaho; other temples in the state are located in Idaho Falls, Boise and Rexburg.
President Thomas S. Monson is scheduled to dedicate the Church's 128th temple Sunday, Aug. 24, in four sessions. The temple will serve 42,000 members living in 14 stakes in communities across southern Idaho, including Twin Falls, Jerome, Burley, Rupert, Ketchum and Hailey.
Speaking of the open house, Elder Nielson said the real miracle occurred as different stakes took responsibility for staffing 650 volunteers at the open house every day.
Each stake in the district was assigned responsibility for the open house two or three days. And because most stakes had more than 650 people who wanted to volunteer, a new group of volunteers came almost every day, he explained.
"The neatest part of the open house was watching the members come and take ownership of the temple each day," said Elder Nielson. "Our biggest problem was that more wanted to come to help than we could handle."
He said members have followed the temple's construction and were eager to participate in the open house and dedication.
Church members in the district have been attending the temple in Boise and Idaho Falls, Idaho, or Logan, Utah.
Elder Nielson said there was also a huge interest in the temple by those of different faiths. In fact, he estimated, nearly 40 percent of those who visited the temple during the open house were members of other faiths.
He said there are numerous stories about many people who were touched by the temple and the spirit there.
On one occasion, a visitor to the temple, who did not think Church members believed in Jesus Christ, asked why there were so many pictures of the Savior in the temple. "It gave us an opportunity to share that this is His house and He is the central focus," said Elder Nielson.
Another family was visiting the Church sites in Nauvoo, Ill., when they asked if they could see the inside of a temple. When missionaries in Nauvoo explained that temples are open to the public only before they are dedicated, the family asked if there were any open houses going on.
"They drove from Nauvoo to Twin Falls and went through three tours," said Terry McCurdy, who is over public affairs for the temple committee.
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