In October 2003, a friend told me that her husband had said that they would not be able to go to the temple every week as they had been. It is a 2-½ hour drive. Gas and the reliability of their car had become serious considerations. She is a very spiritual woman and just knew the Lord would provide.
When she told me of her plight, I volunteered to go with her each week. My temple attendance had not been as regular as I wanted it to be. Our cars, though old, were still running well, so with my vehicle and her gas money, we had visions of a great opportunity for both of us.
The companionship and temple experience was tremendous. We decided that we would go every week. The Lord would provide. During our second trip, we talked about other sisters who could go with us. My friend laughingly called our excursions “The Temple Express.”
That Sunday we announced our intentions in Relief Society and invited others to come along. We assured all the sisters that we would always leave when the children had gone to school and return about ½ hour before they return home.
Two more sisters joined the group. Then another joined the Express. By Christmas, we had outgrown my van. The Lord provides. A young man in our ward asked if he couldn’t join us. He worked nights and was therefore free every Thursday. Plus, he volunteered to take his nine-passenger van.
A sister who had a limited temple recommend asked if she could join us and do baptisms. The temple ordinance workers were thrilled. She immediately started getting a sample of the marvelous feelings and blessings of the temple. When her husband found out that a brother was driving, he decided that this was no longer a Relief Society adventure. Soon more brethren were going on the temple express than sisters! We now have three couples that ride regularly.
There are weeks we have to take two vehicles. We were praying for a fifteen-passenger van. However we have decided to just skip over that phase and pray for a bus. A bus is preferred, because on the trip we discuss the scriptures assigned for the next Gospel Doctrine class and all other gospel questions any of us have. The last twenty minutes, we sing along with the hymns playing on the Suburban’s CD player. My vehicle does not have a CD player, so we sing acapella (the true meaning of Heavenly Discord.)
The number of individuals attending the temple in the St Louis Temple District for February of 2004 is up 3% over February of 2003. The number of endowments is up 8% over this time last year.
During this time eight less-active people have become active in our ward. Often when an inactive returns their steps seem to be rather tentative. These saints have returned with fire burning in their hearts for the gospel. Three have gone on to the temple with limited recommends. They are present at social gatherings. Even more surprising, they are accepting callings, giving talks and bearing their testimonies.
Our weekly sacrament attendance has risen. The reverence and feelings in the chapel prior to the start of sacrament meetings, has been likened to that of the chapel in the temple. The quiet prelude music touches all od our hearts and brings our thoughts out of Babylon and into Zion.
Our ward has had more people go to the temple in February 2004 than went all of last year. More endowments were done in February 2004 then all of last year. As outstanding as these numbers are, the greatest blessing from the Temple Express is the way our ward is beginning to be truly knit with love. We are getting to know each other, not as Sister X who sits in the second row with five children, rather she is Sister X who likes to go camping, is worried about her inactive son, dislikes tuna fish, and favorite hymn is #2, “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning.”
In gospel doctrine and other classes, it has become very evident that more of our members are really feasting on the word of God. True scripture study banqueting is the rule now, not the five minute scanning snack.
The Family History Center is doing a booming business. Last week, we did 100 baptisms, 36 initiatories and 5 endowments. All of these ordinances were done for the kindred dead in our ward.
The Temple Express
We have noticed that our vehicles are getting better gas mileage than usual and running better. We have had several near misses in heavy traffic, but our prayers for a safe trip have always been answered. When the St Louis Temple closed for cleaning in January, we were able to make a day of it so we could go to Nauvoo. I had been unable to go to the open house. My nine-year-old told me to be sure to check out the staircase. “It is awesome.” It is indeed “awesome.” Unfortunately, the weather shut down our planned trip to the Chicago Temple the next week–the only week the Temple Express has not run. However, the St Louis Temple will close again for cleaning this summer, so we will be going to Chicago and/ or Nauvoo at that time.
Some blessings are too personal and sacred to list here, although all of us have seen an increase in miracles in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. The adversary has recently awakened to the good that is occurring. Sickness, schedules, and other minor details are starting to test our faith. The Lord will bless us with whatever we need to keep the Express going.
Each trip our feelings of love and appreciation for our dear Savior have increased. Our desire to be good and do good grows. Our longing to live a celestial life has become almost overwhelming. Our love for our families has increased. We are striving to become better wives, husbands, fathers, and mothers. Our prayers are mightier. Family Home Evening is a priority, not just another church program. Journal writing is easier. The blessings of the temple overflow onto our families continuously.
President Benson has given us a promise about this. He said:
“Now, by virtue of the sacred priesthood in me vested … I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your lives as you bless those who have died.” (Ensign, May 1987, p. 85.)
At the Kirkland Temple dedication, the prophet Joseph Smith said: “We ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.” (D&C 109:22.)
Those of us on the Temple Express can testify from personal experience that these statements are true!
Our stake president wants to have a Temple Express in every ward. A sister from Effingham called the bishop to ask about details regarding the Temple Express.
Friends in old wards have asked about starting a Temple Express. It only takes 2 committed members with full or limited recommends to start a Temple Express. Then each week pray about someone in your ward to invite to go with you the next week. Soon they are going every week. Your Temple Express will grow!
Now we are considering running a Temple Express twice a week, because there are those who want to go, but are unable to go during the week. Also, the Elder’s Quorum wants a Temple Express date night once a month. This summer the worthy youth will receive limited temple recommends and come with us on the Temple Express. We are sure the blessings will just keep increasing for the whole ward as well as those who actually attend the temple. The shadow of the temple is expanding.
We pray for the day when every ward will have a temple within driving or walking distance. We pray for the day when every ward will have a Temple Express traveling to a temple twice a week. We pray for the day when every member will be actively engaged in researching their families’ histories. We pray for the day when every member has a full or limited temple recommend and takes their family names to the temple on the temple Express. The miracles and blessings will be endless. The spiritual growth will be endless. The earth will not be wasted at His coming.