I'm sure everyone has had an experience that becomes embedded in his or her memory. Maybe it came through some action or something that was said.
One of my memories comes from the dedication of the Mexico City Mexico Temple Dec. 2-3, 1983. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted and addressed some of the sessions to dedicate the temple, which was the first in Mexico and the 26th worldwide.
As he began his address in one of the sessions, President Hinckley spoke with a quivering voice as he testified that souls “from the other side of the veil” were present. “All rooms (of the temple) are filled with faithful Latter-day Saints,” he said, “but I am convinced there is a larger, unseen congregation participating with us.”
President Hinckley then named specifically individuals who had key roles in establishing the Church in Mexico, beginning with Brigham Young, who sent missionaries to the country. He stated the names of several of the missionaries and the first mission president. He named the first Mexican who was baptized, and pronounced the names of several others who had occupied a place in the history of the Church in Mexico.
President Hinckley then proceeded to give the talk he had prepared.
I suppose most of us have been in congregations when the person conducting the meeting has acknowledged certain people, such as a member of the stake presidency or other visitor and, later, has said something to the effect, “There is another person I failed to introduce.” Something like that happened during the dedication of the temple in Mexico City.
President Hinckley had been speaking several minutes. He paused and explained that there was another person from the other side of the veil he had not mentioned. In a strong voice filled with emotion and joy, President Hinckley exclaimed, “Welcome, Father Lehi! Oh, how your heart must rejoice!”
I was seated on one of the front rows in the celestial room. I wanted to turn around and look in the direction where “a late comer” might have entered the room. The moment seemed so real that I felt, surely, I could see what Father Lehi looked like.
I didn’t see that great Book of Mormon prophet, and I can’t affirm that President Hinckley saw him with physical eyes, but I’ve no doubt that the Spirit let President Hinckley know that Father Lehi, indeed, was present that day in that temple.
President Hinckley spoke of other temples as a fulfillment of prophecy regarding Lehi’s descendants. “Six new temples have been dedicated this year,” he said. “These were unplanned in terms of particular prophecy but most of these temples have been built to serve descendants of Lehi. … I believe the Lord has touched His prophet (then President Spencer W. Kimball) to bring into play those processes by which He is remembering ancient covenants concerning descendants of Lehi.”
In one session, President Hinckley said he had watched the choir director. “I’m confident from her appearance there is in her veins the blood of Father Lehi and Mother Sariah. I’ve seen shining in her eyes the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I see it in your eyes. What wonderful people you are — people of capacity, faith and devotion,” he told the congregation.
I spent several hours that weekend on the grounds of the new temple. Hundreds of members stood in line before each of the eight sessions over two days waiting for their turn to enter the temple. They came from many parts of Mexico and Guatemala, and from many walks of life. The poor and the rich, the young and old — all stood together, anticipating what was to transpire.
With few exceptions, mainly returned missionaries and former mission presidents and their families, I knew they were children of Lehi. All had come, with that ancient prophet, to a sacred place for a holy occasion. I was privileged to be there with them.