Members tell faith-promoting experiences at dedication

Twenty-seven different choirs provided music for the dedicatory sessions at the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. Following are two faith-promoting experiences from choir participants.

LaVon McMurdie participated in the first session on Sunday, Oct. 13, in a choir, composed of members from Highland Utah East and Lindon Utah stakes. Her husband, George, is terminally ill with brain cancer, which was diagnosed last May. Since then he has undergone radiation and surgery.

Provisions were made for him to attend the session with their son and daughter and LaVon's mother. Sister McMurdie was unable to accompany her husband because she had to be at the temple early with the choir. Brother McMurdie was brought to the temple in a wheelchair and watched the proceedings in a special room, where medical personnel could attend to his needs, Sister McMurdie said.

"Singing in the choir was the most wonderful experience I've ever had in my life," Sister McMurdie reflected. "We had to memorize six hymns, and memorizing those hymns and going to the practices really gave me a lot of strength." A member of the Highland 9th Ward, Highland Utah East Stake, Sister McMurdie said, "Singing in the choir has really been beneficial to me. I am so grateful I had that opportunity."

Two of the hymns the choir performed, she said, were "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and "How Great Thou Art."

She mentioned she particularly had a difficult time singing the fourth verse of "How Great Thou Art." "The words were hard to get out," she said and then repeated part of the verse – " `When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!' I can't sing those words without thinking of my husband, and the joy he's going to feel when he's taken home."

A weakened Donald Clark, director of the choir for the 8 a.m. session on Monday, Oct. 14, left his hospital bed to fulfill his calling because he knew after a priesthood blessing that he was to lead the choir. He returned to the hospital after the session.

His wife, Eugena, explained: "Don came down with something last Wednesday that he thought was the flu. On Saturday he went to the doctor, and then after he came home, he received a priesthood blessing by our home teacher. He was told in the blessing that he would be able to fulfill his calling in the temple, but he wouldn't get better right away. It was an experience, we were told, that our family needed for our growth."

After the blessing, Brother Clark became very ill, and was taken to the American Fork Hospital by ambulance. Originally, it was thought he perhaps had diverticulitis, but the cause of his illness was still undetermined as of Oct. 15. At the hospital, he also received a blessing from the bishop of the new ward the family is moving into, and was told essentially the same thing, that he would be able to fulfill his choir assignment.

"Before I received the blessings," Brother Clark said from his hospital bed the day after his choir's performance in the temple, "I wasn't sure the Lord wanted me to lead the choir. I wondered if my job was to prepare the singers and it was the assistant director's job to lead them in the temple. But after I received the blessings I felt leading the choir was something I was supposed to do.

"I wasn't going to take no for an answer," he said.

Brother and Sister Clark persuaded the doctor to permit him to leave the hospital. "The doctor [an LDS surgeon] knew how determined we were and we had the priesthood behind us, so he let him go," said Sister Clark. "We had to be there by 6:30 a.m. for the 8 a.m. session."

The choir was composed of members of the Lehi Utah and Orem Utah Sharon Park stakes, and performed four hymns.

"As we were singing," said Brother Clark, "I really felt the Spirit there. I felt I was being uplifted and strengthened. I don't think I could have stood there and led the choir without being sustained by the Spirit." Toward the end of the session during the performance of their fourth hymn, Brother Clark said he felt he was "wearing out."

"It was remarkable to me how the blessing followed what happened," he explained. "I was told I was going to have the strength to perform my duties in the temple, and afterward I could recover.

"I am really grateful that I was able to participate," he continued. "We developed a bond that hopefully will last."

The day following the choir's performance and her husband's return to the hospital, Sister Clark remarked, "The Lord gave him the strength to do what he needed to do."

"It was a special occasion," said Brother Clark. "As I joined the choir [the morning of the performance], I felt like they needed me." He said that afterward there were many hugs – "sincere and genuine hugs" – and he was told by choir members that they felt "angels were singing with us."