"God uses all of His children to accomplish His purposes - not just the Saints."
Pres. Al Haines of the Cypress Texas Stake made this comment as he enumerated some of the small, yet miraculous events leading up to the announcement of a temple in Houston.At a briefing held at the nearby Raveneaux Country Club prior to the groundbreaking for the temple June 13, Church leaders and public affairs representatives welcomed civic leaders and the media in a continuing effort to build bridges and strengthen relationships throughout the community.
In attendance was a new friend of the Church, Don Hand - former land owner of the temple site and a developer in the Cypress area. Mr. Hand sold the property to the Church and then worked with Church officials to find the right architect to design the magnificent structure.
In the mid-1980s, the Houston economy took a downturn that affected nearly everyone in the city. Mr. Hand was hit so hard that he feared possible bankruptcy. He turned to the Lord in fervent prayer and pleaded for the Lord's assistance, promising to pay Him back in the future. Mr. Hand was spared financial ruin.
He originally purchased 2,000 acres in the area of the temple site. Many years earlier he had painted a scene for his wife of the future grandeur of the area development.
The land had been on the market prior to President Gordon B. Hinckley's site-selection trip to Houston, but when he visited the city it was not available. He viewed the location any way and told Realtor Steve Cook that this was the desired site. Mr. Hand was contacted to see what it would take to obtain the land. He told Brother Cook, "No amount of money would interest me in selling that property."
The real estate agent persisted and at one point mentioned the intended usage of the land, to build a temple for the Church. Mr. Hand softened. He remembered his promise to the Lord so many years earlier and realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to fulfill it.
He agreed to sell.
Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy paid tribute to Don Hand during his remarks prior to the groundbreaking, saying that this property had been preserved for a special purpose. He quoted Mr. Hand who said that the temple would be the "crown jewel" of his development career.