The month of August is the anniversary of my parents wedding in the Logan Utah Temple. They were married for time and all eternity on August 11, 1950, in that beautiful sacred building. In my early childhood I could look out my bedroom window and see the temple lit up at night. I knew that the temple was a sacred place and that someday, I would also enter that building and make sacred covenants. What is the significance of the temple for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
It is a place where members of our faith make sacred covenants with God. The covenant of baptism and the covenants we make in the temple comprise what we are taught today as the "covenant path." In the temple is where we receive greater knowledge of the eternal nature of mankind and the nature of God and his son Jesus Christ. That gift of knowledge is referred to as the temple endowment. It is where couples are married in a sealing ordinance by the priesthood of God for not just this life, but for all eternity. Children are also sealed to their parents for eternity. And all these ordinances are not just performed for the living, but for our dead ancestors, by proxy, as well. In this way, the hearts of the fathers are turned to the children and the children’s hearts to the fathers. The great work of family history unites families together for generation upon generation.
This work is part of the gathering of Israel. President Russell M Nelson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints taught, “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that”
My wife and I have the great blessing of teaching the Temple Preparation Class for the Lowell First Ward on our mission. Our first class had two participants. Both have now gone to the temple to receive temple ordinances. We are now in the middle of another class with three participants. This is one of our ways of gathering Israel.
Two weeks ago, we attended missionary lesson taught by the Portuguese speaking young sister missionaries, as they taught a young man, member of the English classes and from Brazil, as evening came in a park alongside the Merrimack River. My wife did not understand a word of what was being said. I have been studying Portuguese to complement my Spanish. I could understand more than I thought I would be able to understand. This young man suddenly declared, “I want to be baptized!” He had been taught the lessons for a few months off and on. Even though my wife did not speak Portuguese she could feel the spirit of the moment. He not only wanted to be baptized he wanted to be baptized in just four days from then. These young sister missionaries had the great honor of seeing him baptized and confirmed a member of the church. So, in just a few weeks of time, we have seen baptismal and temple covenants made along the covenant path that will bless these individuals for the rest of their lives and for that matter eternity.
I wrote a poem recently about the first step of the journey on the covenant path.
My Covenant Path
by Michael S Zollinger
My covenant path began today
I’ve set my sail the Savior’s way
Reborn of water and the spirit; I’m in the race to win; to finish
Bitter with dregs he drank the cup
to set me free and lift me up
Though thorny my path in life might be
I know the Savior has ransomed me
Here are some pictures of recent experiences with those who have gone to the temple to make more covenants along the covenant path. What a beautiful experience it was to help them make this journey and to see the support from their ward family as they went.
I also wrote a poem recently about temple covenants and how I feel about them:
by Michael S Zollinger
Temple covenants help me see
my path that crests eternity
Each step I take along this path remind me that He wants me back
Loved ones passed, and those still here
help me weave life's tapestry
The threads we weave of brightest hue
reflect our path; the life we choose
Those sacred covenants midst chambers blessed
inspire me to live; to pass the test
And when life’s journey ends at last
He welcomes me home with God to rest.
We had transfers a few weeks ago and our Lowell District changed dramatically. The Spanish speaking young sister missionaries were transferred out and young Spanish speaking elders (men) were transferred in. Additionally, two brand new trainees were transferred in, one a Portuguese speaking sister, and one a new young elder. Also, a new sister training leader (STL) was transferred in. Hermana Fife (Spanish speaker) expected to be transferred as she had been in Lowell her entire mission (almost 10 months), but we were taken by surprise when Hermana Woolner was also transferred. We recognize the wisdom in the changes, but it was still traumatic to lose Hermana Fife who we’ve served the closest with since we got here. We don’t mind saying that tears were shed. These young people become like our children to us. Below are some pictures of the before and after of the Lowell District.
New district after transfers. Front row left to right; Sister Nickel (STL), Elder Murdock (spanish), Sister Knudsen (STL). Back row left to right; Elder Dennis (trainee), Elder Heath (DL), Elder Manwaring (Spanish), Elder Zollinger, Sister Zollinger, Sister White (Portuguese), Sister Dennis (Portuguese). Important to note that Elder and Sister Dennis are not related.
We were able to visit nearby Walden Pond made famous by Henry David Thoreau on a preparation day. What a beautiful place, although I think Thoreau would be disappointed by the large number of people who have invaded his place of solitude.
I will end this blog entry with the an observation. It has been warm here and everyone who knows me will understand just how much I love "humidity." It keeps me humble. Instead of a motto of "steadfast and immovable," my motto is "sweat drenched and irritable."