It is difficult to write about some of the experiences we have as we work in the temple. As Tom works in the larger sessions, it is interesting to sense the variation in feelings that each group seems to generate. He was able to participate in a session filled with the Area presidency, 16 mission presidents, and wives, which was the culmination of a three-day seminar and training meeting for them. The sense of spiritual maturity, love of God, and desire for magnification of their service could be felt. Two days later, he officiated in a similar session with a large group of mostly young single adults. They were obviously less mature in age and experience, and had many more concerns about their futures: work, education, marriage, etc. but had a similar spirit of reverence and devotion.
One of the assignments for the officiators in those meetings is, toward the end, to lead a group prayer. While there are few specific guidelines about what should be included in those prayers, it seems that one of the responsibilities of the officiators might be to gain a sense of the needs and concerns of the group - as far as that is possible - and to include those in the prayer. And sometimes when there are two brothers assisting in the session, both prepare spiritually for the prayer but only one can be the voice, at which point the silent assistant should be praying for the other to be led by the spirit. It is all a wonderful experience but takes a great deal of internal energy.
The temple is a place where many languages are used. For West Africa, as we have written before, English and French are second languages for many. Their first language could be Twi, Ewe, Fante, Ga, or - less often - Amharic, Mande, or others. Above all is the language of the spirit. At times a smile or a gentle touch can communicate so much more than sounds. And sometimes that is the only way to communicate.
Sue met a woman this week who reminded her of the actress known as “Bloody Mary” in that classic musical, “South Pacific”. She had the same hairdo, the same eyes, the same face shape and body shape. She was a wonderful, delightful woman. Externalities are generally not a good way to determine what is on the inside. First impressions are not things that we have control over but we need to put them the shelf before we make judgments about people.
Sue has finished the Book of Mormon in English, again, and is now working with a useful app that has English scriptures on one side and French on the other.
We spent the afternoon at the MTC helping with Family History in French. Sue has learned that she needs a different French vocabulary to be useful. We did meet two missionaries from the States. One is the grandson of an “ancien” missionary from Paris and knows many Hickens in Heber City. The other is the youngest son of a former stake president in Iowa that we have been sailing with. It continues to surprise us that we have so many connections, even in Africa!
We are happy to hear from you. Some of you have commented on the blog. Others have sent emails or called on Skype. Thanks for your words, support, and prayers!