Starting next Saturday evening the temple will again be closed for two weeks. We will travel to France for a few days and then on to St. George UT for our family reunion. Our posts may not be regular again until July. As we look back over the five months since we were given the assignment to coordinate the ordinances for the living, we realize we have learned many things.
Because of his stake callings for the past 20 years, Tom was well-acquainted with the process of preparing someone to be sent to the temple for their own ordinances. We now are involved in the details on the receiving end and the necessity to provide positive individual experiences for the large groups of people who arrive in Accra for those ordinances.
It starts with good communication with stake and district leaders, helping them to understand the requirements relating to ordinances: providing the appropriate recommends, making sure that the patrons are prepared, etc. For example, we sometimes have patrons who arrive and want to be sealed to a deceased spouse. Generally the spouse needs to be deceased for a year and the other ordinances need to be completed prior to the sealing. When patrons arrive without this preparation, they can be disappointed when the sealing is deferred, something we hope to avoid. Because the church is growing so quickly in Africa, young leaders need teaching and reminding about these details.
We have forms that we send out to groups asking for the details of the patrons: member names, IDs, and specific ordinances. When we have that information, we make a planned schedule on Monday for the week, while allowing for the possibility of those who arrive without appointments. Part of the planning is deciding how many new patrons we can accommodate on any given session. It is not unusual to receive 70 own endowment patrons over the Tuesday and Wednesday every third week when we have missionaries from the MTC and an excursion group.
When a group arrives on Monday evening, a short meeting is held between a member of the temple presidency, the group leaders, and ourselves. We talk about the schedule in the temple, getting clothing, the entry time for new patrons, an updated list of who actually came, and the need for help with children who are brought to the temple. We also ask for designated liaisons from the group who help the new patrons get to the temple on time and with other occasional concerns. Language can be a complicating factor if the patrons only understand a tribal dialect. When groups bring excursion workers, the plans for their training and assignments are handled by Elder and Sr. Pierson.
Finally, after all the planning, it takes a well-trained team of workers to help the new patrons move from the front desk through verification, clothing, ordinances, instruction, and into the endowment session in a timely manner. One of our wonderful opportunities is to present a very brief overview of the process to the small groups and individuals as they arrive. All need the same attention and care, and we try to help them feel our Heavenly Father’s love for them, and His peace that is in His house. The temple never turns anyone away if they arrive with the appropriate recommend. We see examples every day day of the hand of Lord in helping the leaders, workers, and patrons to accomplish this great work.