COLUMBIA, Mo. In their own quiet way, those who regularly attend the temple stand out in our ward. As bishop of the Columbia 1st Ward, in the Columbia Missouri Stake, I find that these members have a spirit of contentedness about them.
It's been a year-and-a-half since the dedication of the St. Louis Temple. Instead of overnight trips to Chicago, we now drive two hours over Missouri's wooded, rolling hills.
The crowning blessings of the Church are within a half-day's journey. The closeness to God that comes through consistent worship in the house of the Lord has raised the spirituality of those who attend, and indirectly, the spirituality of the ward.
One member, Nancy Hansen, moved here more than five years ago with her husband and family after living near the Arizona Temple. She missed the strength, comfort and joy she drew from her weekly visits there. Since the dedication of the St. Louis Temple, she has committed herself to attending every Tuesday.
There is "no sacrifice in attending the temple," she says. Benefits far outweigh the effort. She says regular attendance brings a peace that smooths the everyday trials and aggravations.
Another couple, Lorine and Sam Goodwin, serve as ordinance workers one week a month. This service requires careful planning and budgeting of time, energy and resources. In return, they say they have the transcendent "satisfaction that comes from being useful to the Lord."
They speak of an increase in their testimonies, a greater understanding of the atonement, appreciation for mankind, and better health and energy.
Another sister in the ward who regularly attends the temple is Nancy Stull, a widow working full-time and serving in her calling. Spare moments are precious and few for her. Yet time and difficulty are not excuses. "It's worth whatever it takes," she says.
For Jane and Don Halbert, another couple in the ward that serves as ordinance workers, the experience of the temple is summed up in one word: love. Love of God. Love of one another.
For them, the simplest experiences have actually had the most profound influence on them, like working side-by-side with other ordinance workers and feeling their "Christ-like spirits" or participating with youth groups whose experience of being baptized for the dead moved them and their leaders to tears.
As a bishopric, we encouraged our members to make the temple a focal point of their Christmas celebrations. We expect that those who do will find that "the Spirit of God helps us understand and know His plan for us," as Elder David E. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy said in the October 1998 general conference.
We also expect that, while it may not be visible, families on both sides of the veil will be strengthened and protected.
Craig L. Israelsen serves as bishop of the Columbia 1st Ward, Columbia Missouri Stake.