15 experiences of people who followed President Nelson’s invitations, including focusing on the temple, taking charge of testimony

The Church News asked readers to send in their experiences of following President Nelson’s invitations, including focusing on the temple and taking charge of their testimonies

From finding ways for both parents of young children to attend a temple about an hour away to feeling intimidated by calls to be temple workers, many have seen blessings as they have followed President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation during October 2022 general conference to “focus on the temple in ways you never have before.” 

It’s taken some prioritizing and creativity as they’ve looked at when to go to the temple. 

Hyrum Morley in Payson, Utah, noticed “the biggest change has been how often I go to the temple — I surprised myself how often I really can go.” 

The Church News asked readers to send in their experiences of following President Nelson’s invitations, including focusing on the temple. Other readers shared experiences about taking charge of their own testimonies, building a spiritual foundation, increasing capacity for revelation and following the covenant path. They have shared how accepting the invitations and making changes has helped them. 

Here are more than a dozen experiences the Church News received. These have been edited for length and clarity. 

Marathon temple days

“When I heard the invitation [to make time for the temple], I was already going a few times a month, but I wondered if I could do a little more. The Spirit brought to my mind the fact that every week I was using two hours of my annual leave for an early morning webinar for a side business I am involved with. The webinar is not critical to attend, and I realized that instead of using this two hours every week, which added up to a full eight-hour shift, I could take the day off and attend the temple. 

“When I was 18, and it was right before my mission, I used to do marathon temple days with my dad to help me better understand the temple and increase my opportunities for learning since I was going to be serving [in a country where] the opportunities to attend the temple would be nonexistent. I decided that I would not only attend the temple on this day off, but I would also do some marathon days of two to four endowment sessions or a combination of different ordinances. 

“I have now been doing this for a couple of months, and it has made such a difference in my life. I’m much closer to the Spirit, and with the increased time in the temple on the same day, I am having longer and longer moments of clarity to work through issues in my life. I believe that responding in this way has changed the trajectory of my life, and I will be forever grateful that the Prophet called us to improve our temple attendance. Dedicating one day a month to serious temple worship has been a game changer for me.”

— Jason Sterzer, West Jordan, Utah

The Payson Utah Temple
The Payson Utah Temple | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Time for the temple

“I’ve been home from my mission for only three months, and I’ve struggled to find purpose and direction. I fell into former patterns of behavior from before the mission, and I needed my Savior more than ever. With all this confusion in my life, I felt impressed to follow through with the Prophet’s invitations. I prioritized my daily prayer and scripture studies. As a result I’ve been led to gather Israel within my own family — especially when I bear testimony of what I learn. When I share my temple experiences with my family members, they’ve expressed a greater desire to go more frequently. I’ve even made plans to babysit so my sister can go once a week. 

“The biggest change has been how often I go to the temple. I surprised myself how often I really can go. After all, this is the most important work in the history of the world. … 

“I’ve witnessed how the covenants I have made are a protection against all evil and temptations. … I have no time to give the adversary because I’m learning to give it all to the Lord. Opportunities for work and schooling have opened up, and I’m at peace with my situation. I have more hope for the future. When I allow time to ponder in the temple or when I study and pray, I hear and feel the Savior speak to me in greater clarity. By following the invitation of President Nelson, I have come closer to my Savior, more so than I could on my own.”

— Hyrum Morley, Payson, Utah

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Learning about the ‘power of the temple’

“Having a great love for family history work and having attended the temple on a fairly regular basis over the years, I thought I had a deep testimony of the temple. But it wasn’t until I accepted my bishop’s invitation this October to be a temple worker that I truly came to know the power of the temple in ways I have never known before.

“I was apprehensive about accepting the invitation because of the muscle and nerve pain I experience … . But acting on faith, I have felt spiritual and physical strength allowing me to serve in the capacity that I have been called.

“I have come to understand that my responsibility is not just to show up, memorize the ordinances, do the work and go home. It’s also to help create the physical and spiritual environment where patrons can feel the Spirit of the Lord while they make sacred covenants for themselves and others. I have seen the love and faithfulness of workers and patrons who drive several hours to serve or attend the temple.  

“I love serving in the temple and have a greater reverence for the house of the Lord and for those who come to do for others what they cannot do for themselves.”

 — Deanie Gallaher, San Bernardino, California

Feeling ‘home’ in the temple

“My 18-year-old daughter, Britnee Rose, unexpectedly passed away following a surgery in October 2020. This experience could have destroyed my faith and trust in the Savior, but I chose to turn to the Healer instead. I dedicated time almost every day to doing family history and was able to do the temple work for many ancestors. I was even able to do Britnee’s temple work the summer after she passed away. Those two days were powerful. …

Shauna Hatch’s daughter Britnee, on Sept. 8, 2020. | Provided by Shauna Hatch

“As I search for sources to confirm the ancestors that are in FamilySearch, I have found missing family members. I have come to know my ancestors as I work to find them and as my husband and I do their temple ordinances. [That] has strengthened me when I have felt alone and sad. I am so much closer to my daughter now too. … 

“I am eternally grateful for the chance to go to the temple. I ‘hunger and thirst’ after temple attendance now and rejoice in the feeling of being ‘home’ when I am there. I know that this life is part of the eternal plan and that I will be with Britnee again some day. This knowledge gives me great comfort as I move forward since Britnee’s passing. President Nelson’s challenge to us to put the temple forefront in our lives is inspired and, if followed, will bring power and peace into our lives.”

— Shauna Hatch, West Point, Utah

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Provo Utah Temple
Provo Utah Temple | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Family temple trips

“My wife and I have five young children. We started our marriage with once-a-week temple trips when we had no kids and a temple five minutes away. As temple availability became farther, we would drive two hours once a month so we could attend the temple. [As children came,] we would take family trips to the temple, and she would go in and do two initiatories while I watched the kids on the temple grounds. Then we would switch and I would do two. A total of maybe 40 minutes combined in the temple.

“After the Prophet asked us to increase our time there, we decided I would drive up alone once a month — about an hour — now to Oklahoma City and do an endowment session. Then our family trip could focus on her and let her spend the full 40 minutes in the temple with no switching.

“Have we seen blessings? I was convinced a long time ago that the Lord sends blessings eventually in some way, somehow, … they will come.” 

— Spencer Young, Norman, Oklahoma

Early morning temple workers

“My husband and I both got the impression after President Nelson’s talk that we needed to become temple workers. The thought of squeezing in a five-hour temple shift each week while I was working full time and my husband was pursuing a doctoral degree seemed daunting. I felt overwhelmed and not entirely enthusiastic, though I was willing to trust the Lord and follow through when He gave instruction. I trusted President Nelson’s promises that more time in the temple would bring increased faith, so we moved forward with the interviews and eventually went in to be set apart. The blessings we received as we were set apart were beautiful and personal.

“I still felt nervous and overwhelmed, though, as we walked back to the parking lot. As we got in the car, I said a silent prayer, asking the Lord to help me feel assured and even joy over this new demand in my life. The clearest response from Him came to my mind: ‘I have glorious blessings I can only give you if you’re willing to give me this time in the temple.’ 

“That was all the answer I needed. …

“The alarm going off at 4:30 a.m. every Friday morning doesn’t always find me jumping enthusiastically out of bed. But even on those coldest and darkest mornings, I’ve known exactly why I’m sleepily making my way to His house. I find Him there, in the faces of those also coming there to find Him. I’m continually reminded of His promise that great blessings and miracles are awaiting us as we serve in His house. We have already seen the Lord’s hand working to strengthen and enable us through our personal trials because of our service in the temple, and we continue to hold out for more miracles to come!”

— Anna Samuelson, Provo, Utah

Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple
Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Blessings through trials

“Since President Nelson issued this invitation, I’ve started trying to attend the temple a few times a month, which is no small feat with small children and a busy schedule. But I’ve been acting in faith, and have seen a miraculous blessing come into my life because of it.

“For a while now, I’ve been pondering the promise we’ve been given that as we serve in the temple, God’s angels will have charge over us (Doctrine and Covenants 109:22). [Recently], a huge trial has hit me, and as I was praying about it ..., the Holy Ghost encouraged me to reach out to a specific family member for advice and support. The Spirit lovingly let me know that this family member is one of God’s angels who is here for me through my trial. How miraculous! I’m so grateful for our Prophet, for the restored gospel, for revelation, for covenants and the blessings we receive for keeping them, and for our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

— Elisabeth Child, La Verkin, Utah

Finding power and rest in covenants 

“[President Nelson’s] talk about drawing power from and finding rest in our covenants was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed peace and rest and more power to continue doing the Lord’s great work. I realized after his talk that I had a very surface level understanding of my covenants. I was trying my best to keep them — why wasn’t I getting the peace and power?

“Over the next several weeks I studied deeply [about] my covenants. … Most importantly, I learned about how my covenants tie me to the Savior. … 

“Over the next few weeks I also got to spend a lot of time in the temple … . We helped deep clean the temple … .. I got to do two baptism sessions with recent converts … and an endowment session with a recent convert, and as a mission we had a temple day. As I continued to see these covenants in action, I felt the peace of Christ enter into my life. 

“My life will never be the same. I now cherish my relationship with the Savior and the covenants I’ve made with Him.”

— Elder Dallyn Edmunds of Mapleton, Utah, serving in the Arizona Tucson Mission

Melissa Church, right, with her parents outside the Provo Utah Temple in December 2022. | Provided by Melissa Church

Finding strength, purpose in the temple

“I have truly taken President Nelson’s charge to attend the temple to heart. It has not only changed my life but my life mission. ... These are the latter days and the Lord needs our help in gathering Israel now more than ever. All of God’s children deserve to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus — on both sides of the veil. I know this to be true as I’ve personally felt my heart turn to the fathers. I have experienced renewed strength, protection, healing and purpose. I have also personally seen miracles take place in my life — just as President Nelson said. … I hope all of us can find the same peace and mission that I have by attending the temple.”

— Melissa Lyn Church, of Orem, Utah

Taking charge of my testimony

“I take charge of my testimony by worrying less and praying more. I am so grateful to be a member of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I lost my testimony during my young adult life because of poor choices. I grew up borrowing my parents’ testimony. I know now because of all the scars that I have and dangers God saved me from that I must own my testimony and work on it daily … . 

“The Church’s teachings, the teachings of ancient and modern apostles and prophets … and the holy scriptures help me take charge of my testimony as I search and ponder them. My bishop, his counselors and ward members help me, too. Involving my children in family prayer, scripture reading and creating a ‘holy place’ in my home helps me take charge of my testimony too. Frequent temple attendance is an essential part of my routine. …

“It is a significant reminder and powerful encouragement. I am going through a very hard time with balancing my daily duties as a wife, daughter, mother of seven, doctorate student and daughter of Heavenly Father. … I deal with combat PTSD and other mental issues from deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan daily. … [The] Lord knows my struggle right now. Despite all the trials I am facing, I already see miracles in my life.” 

— Mafuta Christina Sauni, Augusta, Georgia

A group of young men reading the scriptures together. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Foundation for a personal testimony

“I followed the invitation to take charge of my testimony. As a missionary in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission, I realized I needed to really take charge and focus on my testimony. For a while, I had my foundation on my parents’ testimonies, but as I grew up I started slowly to build my own. It wasn’t until I got on my mission that I realized I needed to fully put it all on my own foundation. I can’t testify to the people that my parents know it’s true. I need to let the people know that I know it is true. So I started to put a bigger focus into my studying. [I studied] Jesus’ … earthly ministry and Nephi and Alma and all the prophets [in] strengthening my foundation. Helaman 5:12 became a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me. And I have seen that I can resist the temptations of the adversary much better now. And I know as I continue to build up my foundation it’ll just get easier and easier.” 

— Elder Alex Rollins, of Bountiful, Utah, serving in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission

Taking charge of testimony — and life

Taking charge of my testimony has proven to not be a compartmentalized effort. As I have worked to take charge of my testimony, I am finding that I’m taking charge of my life in many areas. ...

When I created my ‘take charge’ photo [in Switzerland] for my phone, we had since moved from beautiful Europe, were living in Fort Hood, Texas, my husband’s new assignment, and I was going through a major transition. ...

“I am grateful for President Nelson’s challenge. It came at a perfect time for me. Everything has not been without challenges. On the contrary, I have found myself facing some of the most challenging times of my life during the past [several] months. 

“Taking charge of my testimony has been a blessing as I’ve set the most important people and things first in my life. ... Taking charge of my testimony was just what I needed.

“I have also noticed the empowering feeling that comes from using my agency to take charge of my personal testimony. Even the phrase ‘take charge’ has something powerful about it.”

— Valarie Olson, Killeen, Texas

Blue hard-cover copies of the Book of Mormon on a table in English, Spanish and other languages
English and Spanish translations of the Book of Mormon on display with the dozens of other languages during Saturday afternoon session of the 180th Annual General Conference Saturday, April 3, 2010. | Deseret News archives

Building a spiritual foundation 

“In the October 2021 general conference, President Nelson extended an invitation to strengthen our spiritual foundations. … In reading this message in later weeks, I was pondering what I might find if I were to examine my foundation closely. Would I find erosion or gaps? I felt that, just like the foundation of a building is buried and hidden from view, the weaknesses in my spiritual foundation may be something hidden from my view.  

“So I went to God in prayer to ask Him where my foundation is weak and what I needed to do to strengthen it. My answer came as an impression in my mind and in my heart — read the Book of Mormon.  

“I had read the Book of Mormon several times before and had a witness from the Spirit that it is true. I was, at the time, studying the Doctrine and Covenants as part of the ‘Come, Follow Me’ program. So the impression I received to read the Book of Mormon was unexpected. However, the reason I went to Him in prayer in the first place was because I believed He could see weaknesses in my foundation that I could not see. In construction terms, I had sought out an inspector whose expertise was spiritual foundations. Even though I didn’t understand the exact reason for the prescribed course of action, surely I should trust the recommendation of the inspector whose expertise I was seeking.

“I followed the prompting and have been striving to read in the Book of Mormon daily since then. I can only guess what spiritual troubles I am avoiding by doing so. I may never know what would have happened down the road if I had not listened to the Lord’s Prophet and the whisperings of the Spirit. I can say that I have noticed an increase in the Holy Ghost’s presence in my life — something for which I am very grateful! I believe the prompting to read the Book of Mormon — a simple and straightforward recommendation by my inspector — was the needed reinforcement to my testimony.”

— David Sanders, West Jordan, Utah

A person writes with a blue in a brown journal book with with it propped on their knee while sitting outside.
Recording the answers to the prayers has helped Jerome Jones learn to hear and recognize God’s voice. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Increasing capacity to receive revelation

“I’m grateful for President Nelson’s challenge to increase our capacity to receive revelation. For a few years I’ve asked Heavenly Father, almost daily, what He would have me to know or do, then waited for and recorded the answer. The fruits have been exquisite. I have not only received an answer each time but have learned what His voice sounds and feels like. The Father and the Son truly are willing to share their will … .

“As a recently called bishop, I now need that knowledge and revelation more than ever and I try to share my experiences with those around me so they too can receive the answers they need and learn God’s voice.” 

— Bishop Jerome Jones, Aztec, New Mexico

Following the covenant path 

“Following the covenant path, going to the temple and focusing on my testimony is helping me understand the gospel of Jesus Christ better.  

“For example, I have realized that the two gifts that the Savior gave me at baptism … I can return every week I partake of the sacrament. … We promise to be willing to take His name upon us. We also promise to remember Him. So if later in the week I feel besieged by temptation, if I remember Him, not just casually but really remember Him, I find the Lord does come to me and if He does, where is the temptation? I find that I have been redeemed and the temptation is gone and I am following the covenant path.”

— Mark Burkinshaw, Humble, Texas

Correction: One instance of Hyrum Morley’s last name was previoulsy incorrectly spelled as Morely.

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