NPR recently did a story about a group of reporters’ visit to the newly constructed Draper Temple. The Draper Temple, by all appearances, is characteristically beautiful.
I am as intrigued by the process of building a new temple, as I am by the end product itself. Some of the most marvelous stories from church history involve sacrifices that the Saints – ancient and modern – have made in order to build a House consecrated to the Lord.
Unfortunately, the sacrifices and challenges that go into constructing a temple are often not immediately apparent, particularly to those of us living in North America. Looking at the process from the outside, temple construction is a very clean process – one which very few of us have any direct involvement with. Most of us only participate in temple construction through tithes and offerings. The physical experience of building a temple is missing, for most of us.
That’s why I find the following photos chronicling some of the construction of the Aba Nigeria temple so inspiring. They remind me that temples are of such importance that we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that members have access to them. A colleague at Church headquarters shared these pictures with me when I worked there a few years ago:
This is the road that would – eventually – lead the Saints of Nigeria to the Aba Temple. Unfortunately, the road was too muddy and dangerous to bring the supplies to construct the temple.
The bridge leading to the temple site was equally dangerous and impassable by the Church’s construction trucks.
In order to prevent problems like this, the Church expended tremendous resources to build a road through the town and to the temple.
This is the Church’s new road leading to the Aba Temple site.
Once the road was complete, the Church could begin the work of building the Temple itself.
The image of the construction of the road to the Nigerian Temple is a particularly powerful reminder to me of the significance of the temple. In our personal lives, getting to the temple can be just as difficult as it was for the Church to build a road to the Nigerian Temple. Sometimes our dangerous, muddy terrain consists of physical challenges (like getting lost on the way to the DC temple after scrimping money to rent a car to get there – only to have the car die in the temple parking lot) and sometimes our road is muddied by spiritual obstacles. My wife and I have observed that one of the eternal truisms is that the day of the month that we schedule to attend the temple will be the day most fraught with difficulty. There are always – always – obstacles to our temple attendance.
Overcoming the obstacles on the road to the temple is really what the temple is all about. Cleaning up the mud in our spiritual lives; building bridges to worthy temple attendance; those are the things that make the final product – the quiet solitude of the Celestial Room – so meaningful.