POCATELLO, Idaho — Following a public open house that saw nearly 250,000 visitors walk through the Pocatello Idaho Temple, President M. Russell Ballard and Elder Neil L. Andersen arrived in Pocatello for the temple’s dedication that would take place Sunday, Nov. 7.
Prior to a final tour of the temple before its dedication tomorrow, President Ballard and Elder Andersen shared their excitement outside the temple on Saturday, Nov. 6.
Standing near the cornerstone that will be sealed as part of the dedication proceedings, President Ballard, the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reflected on the role of temples throughout history.
“Temples have always been a part of God’s work — even from the earliest of times,” he said. “Temples are very, very sacred places for us.”
President Ballard talked about the draw people have to temples because of the connection they provide to the other side of the veil.
“I think that’s one of the things a lot of people resonate with — wanting to know what happens when people die,” he said. “If you find the gospel and embrace it and live it, it’s going to be OK. Everything will be fine.”
This doctrine is one that has become more poignant for President Ballard since his wife, Sister Barbara Ballard, passed away three years ago.
“We have seven children. We have 43 grandchildren. We just had our 100th great-grandchild,” he said. “And she’s over there waiting for me. Because we were married in the temple, it’s eternal. She’s away for a season.”
While temples are easily recognized when seen anywhere in the world, they are not ornamental in nature, President Ballard said.
“The temple in our Church is a center where eternity and the world connect because of the blessings that people receive when they come to the house of the Lord.”
He described the service provided in temples for those who have previously lived on the earth and the covenants that are made by those who are alive today. Both those whose mortal journey is over and those who are here or are to come can be blessed by temples like the one he will dedicate tomorrow.
“I’m honored that I could be here to help dedicate the Pocatello Idaho Temple,” President Ballard said. “It will be dedicated and given to the Lord tomorrow. It’s His house. It’s His Church. And it will be a very wonderful experience for the members of the Church to have here in Pocatello their own temple, their own house of the Lord, where they can come have these eternal, sacred blessings.”
Read more: Pocatello Idaho Temple opens its doors, offering first public look inside a temple in 590 days
Elder Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, feels a special tie to the Church’s 170th temple.
“I grew up here in Pocatello and drove every day to high school right up that road that comes to the high school,” Elder Andersen said. “I graduated from Highland High School. I ran cross-country down here at the Highland Golf Course, and if I would have had a temple, I would have run a lot faster, I’m sure.”
He said he hopes others see special meaning in the temple, as well.
“For all the people to see the light on the hill — which represents the Light of Christ, and maybe for others who are not Christians, the light of goodness or the light of belief — is something that’s reassuring,” Elder Andersen said. “Even if they don’t see the doctrine or the doctrine of Christ or the doctrine of God exactly the way we see it, they have hopes and aspirations. … I think [the temple] can bring hope and belief to many, many people.”
Elder Andersen also talked about the work done in a temple as less of work and more of a unique type of joy.
“It’s more of a joy of suddenly stepping into what we would kind of call a halfway house between heaven and earth and suddenly getting some sense that we are eternal beings. And life continues way beyond this life, and so we get more of a sense of mortality being a brief time in our eternity,” he said.
“Everything in the temple testifies to the immortality of the soul, so whether we are doing the work for people who have gone before us, it gives us the assurance that, yes, they really live. Their individual spirits are still there.”
Sister Kathy Andersen, wife of Elder Andersen, said the temple isn’t only about the work done in the temple but also the work done individually before serving in the temple.
“When you have a temple, and you’re able to attend the temple, the work is a personal work, meaning that I need to be more kind and I need to be more thoughtful and better to those around me and to think of the Savior more,” she said.
“There is a desire when we’re able to go to the temple or have a temple so close to try to be more — in ourselves, in our hearts, in our lives, in our spirits — more like the Savior was,” she said. “For me, part of that work is a personal work to be more worthy to enter the House of the Lord. It’s magnificent.”
One specific part of the new temple touched Elder Andersen’s heart.
“One of the things that struck me was to see this Minerva Teichert painting that we all grew up with down in Pocatello,” he said. “Minerva Teichert was quite a well-known artist and member of the Church, and to see that now in the temple … to see it in its place … it makes a major statement.”
The painting, called “Not Alone,” portrays Mary Fielding Smith with her son, a team of oxen and a wagon as they crossed the Plains as pioneers. She was the widow of Hyrum Smith, who was martyred with the Prophet Joseph Smith. Hyrum and Mary Smith’s son, Joseph F. Smith, would later become the sixth President of the Church.
The dedication of the Pocatello Idaho Temple will take place in three sessions Sunday, Nov. 7.