During a period of temple building in Europe, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf encouraged European Latter-day Saints to prepare themselves to be worthy of temple blessings.
After returning from a recent trip to France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the 1955 dedication of the Bern Switzerland Temple — the Church’s first temple in Europe — and compared it to this day when temples dot the continent.
“We are living in a time of temple building,” said President Uchtdorf. “This is a historic moment when Europe needs to recognize that there is an opportunity to grow and bloom in a very special way.”
President Uchtdorf, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, and their daughter, Antje Uchtdorf Evans, visited Europe April 5 through April 15, speaking to members and missionaries and visiting temple sites.
After visiting the Paris France Temple — to be dedicated on May 21 — and the Frankfurt Germany Temple — which closed in 2015 for renovation — President Uchtdorf compared temple construction to the building and strengthening of individual Latter-day Saints.
“Temple building takes time and it takes planning, it takes thoughtful construction and it takes only the best in materials and knowhow,” he said. “What can we do to prepare ourselves to be worthy of these blessings? It takes all the same things.”
The Church is progressing, he said, “but it always goes back to the individual, the individual life.”
“We have to be careful that we are not missing this great spiritual opportunity, that we are not distracted by the outer appearance or plans; taking away from the spiritual power that can come into our personal lives as we use this season of temple building to build our own testimonies.”
During his recent visit, President Uchtdorf said he received many questions about when the temple will be finished or what areas will be updated. “The questions should be what can we do to prepare ourselves to be worthy of these blessings,” he said.
“It takes effort, means, planning, the same things which we need to build the physical temple. We need build our own temple, our own life, to bless those around us, especially our families. Are we living below our privileges and possibilities in using this time to become better members and better followers of the Savior, better disciples, husbands, wives, parents, siblings and children?”
During the time he served as Europe Area President, President Uchtdorf accompanied President Gordon B. Hinckley to select a site for the Church’s temple in Paris.
It was marvelous to see the completed Paris France Temple, constructed within walking distance of Versailles, said President Uchtdorf.
There is great symbolism in the statue of the Savior standing in the center of the temple gardens, President Uchtdorf said. “I remember discussing what we wanted to have in this garden. Moroni maybe? As we discussed it we said, ‘That is where the Savior belongs.’ It is great and will be highly appreciated by the neighbors. When they look into this garden they see what this church is all about it. It is about the Savior; it is His work.”
During the Uchtdorf’s visit, which took place just months after President Uchtdorf rededicated the Freiberg Germany Temple in September 2016, the couple visited the grounds of The Hauge Netherlands Temple.
President Uchtdorf loves the symbolism found in the construction of The Hague Temple, where a huge number of pillars reach down far below the surface into the wet land, even into the ground water, and support the temple “so it would stand and stay solid.”
In addition to the “pillars of temple building,” President and Sister Uchtdorf also drew strength from the European members — including friends, family and Church members they were able to see while visiting “home.”
Everywhere President Uchtdorf spoke, he asked members to “keep the commandments and trust the Lord.”
Don’t wait until the construction of the new temples are completed, he told them. “Be temple worthy now; have a current temple recommend. More temples are being constructed all over the world. In Europe there are additional constructions in progress in Portugal and in Italy. Let us prepare for these holy edifices by being temple worthy now.”
During each meeting President and Sister Uchtdorf answered questions from the members — many of whom feel inadequate or burned out in their Church service. President Uchtdorf told the members that, with the exception of being called as Deacons Quorum president in a quorum of two young men, he has never had a calling that did not make him feel inadequate.
“Give your best. Don’t settle for less. Trust the Lord,” he said. “Give whatever you are able to give with all the energy you have, and then let the Lord finish it and make it great.”
The Uchtdorfs loved to return to Frankfurt — the city where President Uchtdorf was raised, where Sister Uchtdorf was baptized and where the couple lived as teenagers, were married and began their young family. President Uchtdorf knew the current stake president — now an airline captain with Lufthansa — when the stake president was a child.
“It was wonderful to see the strength of the Church and the commitment of the members in this part of the world,” he said. It is wonderful the Saints all across Europe are eyewitnesses to a season of temple building.
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