After more than 10,000 people toured the new Rexburg Idaho Temple on the first day of the public open house Saturday, Dec. 29, the Church decided to expand the tour groups to include more people.
"After a very successful first day when we served more than 10,000, we've learned we can accommodate more guests," said Merv Brown, director of public affairs for the temple open house and dedication. "As a result, we will be placing more tickets online for each day remaining of the public open house."
Hundreds had already toured what will be the Church's 125th temple during the VIP open house Dec. 26-28. Greeting those visitors was Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve. (Please see Dec. 29, 2007, Church News.) In interviews, Elder Bednar and BYU-Idaho President Kim B. Clark, an Area Seventy, spoke of the influence they surmise the new temple will have upon the some 13,000 students at adjacent BYU-Idaho, especially international students.
"Those international students who avail themselves of the blessings of the temple will build a foundation, spiritually, that will be steadfast and immovable," said Elder Bednar. "To the degree that they receive the instruction in the temple, worthily enter into the covenants and then remember and honor them, that will be a foundation that will not fail."
For students returning home to areas where no temple is nearby, "they can teach their children and their friends and neighbors about the great blessings of the temple and point their children to the temple," President Clark said.
The temple in Rexburg, he added, will be the "great crowning blessing" of their time at BYU-Idaho.
New temple President Val Rigby Christensen, a former member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, said the enthusiasm he has seen for the new temple since coming to this southeastern Idaho town has pleased him, considering there is a temple in Idaho Falls, some 25 miles away. "You'd think the saints here had never had a temple," he said, smiling.
Indeed, enthusiasm for the Church's newest temple has spread throughout this area settled by Mormon pioneers in the early 1880s. Dee Bowen of the Lyman 1st Ward, Rexburg Idaho East Stake, calls himself a "retired and tired" Idaho farmer. But his excitement was evident as he led his bride of one year and three months through the new edifice. He married his wife, Ila, after the death of his first wife. Now the 82-year-olds are newlyweds.
Ila Bowen is a native of Oklahoma who lost her first husband a few years ago and moved to Rexburg, Idaho, to help a son and his family. Not a member of the Church, she had never been inside a temple until now. "I think it is beautiful, peaceful," she said, following their tour.
Ten-year-old Colton Stolworthy of the Ammon 13th Ward, Ammon Idaho Foothills Stake, called the temple "pretty awesome."
When asked what he thought about during his tour, he replied simply, "Jesus Christ."
To receive free tickets to the temple open house, go to www.lds.org/reservations or call the Reservations Center at 1-800-537-6181. The open house goes through Jan. 26, excluding Sundays. A cultural celebration is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 2, and the dedication will be on Sunday, Feb. 3.
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