Are They Commuting from the Celestial Kingdom?
By G.G. Vandagriff

Since I have been working as a temple worker in the Provo, Utah Temple, I have met many special and dedicated patrons and workers who offer extraordinary examples of service and commitment.  They demonstrate the power of attitude in one’s ability to serve the Lord.  There are two particular women I would like to tell you about.

The first of these remarkable women is Cleo Jensen.  She is a petite 99-year-old patron who comes to the temple every day, Tuesday through Saturday, and does three to four endowment sessions per day.  She says, “It’s my way of thanking the Lord for all my many blessings.  My life is just full of them, ever since I joined the church in 1934.”  She also credits her temple service for her longevity. 

Lately, she has slowed down a bit and now sports a bright red walker.  “An old injury started bothering me.  I had a car accident a few days after Pearl Harbor and now my leg has started hurting so I have to use this walker.” 

She says that even though she lost her husband twenty-five years ago and “lost a fortune,” the Lord has still blessed her mightily.  Groups of genealogists give her stacks of 90-120 names at a time for her to do.  She works through them at high speed, claiming that doing what she is doing is “just good psychology.”  She can’t get any of her friends to accompany her, because they claim it’s too tiring.  Cleo says, “It’s all a matter of attitude.  You do what you want to do.” She hopes that my writing about her service will encourage others to do likewise.    

Another celestial person is Lera Whittle.  She is 97 years old and still serves weekly as a temple worker.  Her sweet smile and sweeter spirit have been the balm of Gilead to many an anguished soul. 

Lera’s temple service crowns a life of hardship over which she has shown herself to be victorious.  Widowed at an early age, she was left almost destitute with ten children.  But, she claims, the Lord looked after her.  She was able to find a job managing apartments, and free housing was part of her compensation.  After working for many years, she finally raised her family and was a grandmother.  She was free to do with her life what she wanted.  She chose to go on a mission.  After completing her mission, she returned to the States and became a temple worker. 

She is the type of person who notices the outcast.  Once she left a candle and a welcoming note at the gate of her less active neighbors.  Only a short time ago, after having moved away, they visited her in her home.  They told her they were going to the temple as a family to be sealed.  Crediting her graciousness as being their guiding light, they were anxious for her to share their new-found joy.

Sisters Whittle and Jensen are extraordinary, but they are not unique.  There are many faithful Latter-day Saints who struggle against tremendous odds to make contributions that may not be so obvious.  But their examples do much to hearten me.  They show that the elderly are capable of great service and self-sacrifice.  There are others on my shifts who are ninety or approaching ninety, and who are still serving the Lord with heart, might, mind, and strength.  May I live to be so devout and courageous.  If so, I have a lot of years of temple work ahead of me!

2005 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.