During the missionary discussions I was told that the Temple was the holiest place on Earth and the Brazilian missionary who taught me was very enthusiast talking about his Temple experiences but also with a huge respect for that “sacred house”. Needless to say that after my baptism I also wanted to go to the Temple and I always longed to listen to the experiences that everybody had to share.
At the time the closest Temple was in Zollikofen, Switzerland, so it took a lot of savings (sometimes longer than a year) to be able to spare for the trip. Not even the 48 hours trip by bus (sometimes without airco in the middle of the Summer) would frighten us. Not even travelling with babies, even if they were only 2,5 weeks old. It didn’t bother us to travel with babies crying, with a diaper smell, it was such a privilege to travel in such circumstances and to do what we thought it was the Lord’s will to all of us… So, after 2,5 years of membership, I headed to Switzerland. I was very happy and eager to perform “baptisms for the dead”. When we got there we got a “cold shower”, the temple didn’t know that we were coming (lost the letter AND fax sent by the Lisbon stake) and had given our accomodation to another stake. Great, so there we were, 2500 kms from home and without a place to stay (with temple hotel payed 3 months in advance). After persistent negociation we were able to stay in a Swiss nuclear bunker in the neighbourhood of the Temple. I was surprised to see that there was no organization whatsoever in the Temple and to my dismay we, southern europeans, were looked upon like if we were inhuman. In the bunker we could not take a shower and we were denied that right at the temple hotel. But off we went upstairs and took our showers anyways, causing lots of complains by the hotel employees at the time. There were lots of complains going both directions between the Temple presidency and the Lisbon Stake presidency.
We were told that in spite of our trip that there were no names for the baptisms for the dead but suddenly, also after a hard negociation, we were able to make 15 baptisms/day/person and not the 30/day/person that were promised before we left. It was a great experience, I really loved being baptized for deceased people. Until the end it remained my favorite work in the Temple.
I did my endowment after my mission and it was a great trip. It was on 27 February 1990, right before they took of the penalties. I loved the iniciatory cerimony, I felt like ‘yes, this is it! This is what I was missing since my youth’. But then I was amazed that I was asked to make covenants before I was told which covenants I was required to make. I found those ‘so sacred covenants’ nothing special, they were most simple and not sacred at all to be kept so secret. And those penalties? Disgusting! But even so, I was marveled by the Celestial Room and what it represented and I longed to be there the longest I could. Baptisms for the dead and being in the Celestial Room was what I longed the most all year long. There I felt safe and at home. And I loved those words at the entrance of the Temple “Holiness to the Lord”. I frequently said that I didn’t need to go to the Temple because the Temple was with me. I was wearing my garments, and I was so proud of them, they were never an obstacle.
In 1991 I was called as a Temple Worker in the Frankfurt Germany Temple and I didn’t like it because I was not able to the work normal members were doing and I was only busy at being at certain places on time to perform several Temple activities. There I also had the unpleasant surprise to find a member with a certain mental problem being kept tied up to his bed. Arms and legs. I was shocked and in spite of the instructions of the Temple presidency and local leaders, I called the paramedics and that brother was taken to a German hospital and taken cared of. The following day while I was working in the iniciatory part, the Temple president came in and rebuked me in front of everybody for having called an ambulance and given assistance to someone in need. I was told that the plan was to send that brother tied up to Portugal by bus. Imagine that! I was shocked! How could we possibly cross 3 country borders like that, without being noticed by the Police?
I later heard that he spent 2 weeks in the hospital and sent to Portugal by plane.
During my time as a Temple worker I was confronted with the huge temple burocracy, people making things so much harder than they were (if there is a harder way why should we do it the easy way?), I saw people’s genealogies being lost, ordinances that needed to be repeated because of records lost in the Temple, Temple missionaries giving other people’s genealogies without permission to members to do the works, parents being married to children, parents in law being married to sons/daughters in law… Thank goodness we had witnesses who were vigilant! We also had sons almost being married to their fathers and daughters to their mothers. That was fun to see… but also very frustrating. The top was the unity between the members. Those were wonderful moments. Those were also times when wonderful friendships were made and deep personal feelings were exchanged.
From 1994 my love for the temple started to vanish because the Temple became a place to be in a hurry. By this I mean that we had to always hurry to get on time for the next session that was starting right after the previous one had ended. There was no more time to meditate and to pray in the Celestial Room. Going to the Temple was more running than anything else and for a time members were not even allowed in the Celestial room between endowment sessions or longer than 10 minutes after the end of a session. There was always someone coming to tell us to leave.
Then our kids came and we could not find anyone to look after our children when we went to the Temple. So for 8 years we went to the Temple and while my wife was in I stayed out taking care of the children and vice-versa. When I told this at church, local leaders offered to look after my children but a payment was requested for the time they were looking after them. I was astonished, I always looked after children (sometimes even 7 at the time and alone) and I never asked for a single cent! I also drove pmembers to the Temple for free and I saw other members making business of those trips by charging money from the members they were taking. A certain amount by km!
When we were 10 years married we went to the London Temple in the UK. While I was in the Temple an elderly couple asked my wife where I was and she said “well, he is in the Temple”. Then they said, get dressed and meet him there and we look after your children. We were so touched! They also offered to look after our children each time we would go to the London Temple, even living in a small town near Birmingham! What an example! They were ready to make several hundred miles just to give us the opportunity to go to the Temple together!
Finally it was announced that we were going to have a Temple built in The Hague, the Netherlands, just 90 minutes away by car. We were thrilled for such a blessing and we were looking forward for the opening! Once we drove there to see the Temple being built and show it to our children. When our bishop found out, we were severely rebuked because the stake president didn’t want that members would go to see the Temple in construction. The only thing that made us happy in that story is that the brother responsible for the building had seen us and invited us to go in and see. We were so happy!
We never left our children behind when we went to the Temple because we wanted that they would grow up being Temple lovers. Even being so young and while one of their parents was in the Temple the other stayed outside with the children, sometimes with a temperature of -3°C (25° F).
My oldest daughter loved serving in the Temple, the two youngsters hated it because they could not go in. A monthly trip to the Temple was always met with a “Oh no, not again”.
Fortunately the second president of The Hague Temple in the Netherlands was who I call a real Christian, a man of Love. Just to see him with our family and our children made our hearts melt and our eyes wet. Such a wonderful man! I will never forget that once he saw our oldest daughter waiting for us and he said “well, we wait that your parents finish their session and then we are going to have a baptismal session only for you”. It was the most special Temple service ever! The Temple president and his counselors were witnesses. What a difference with all the Temple presidents I had met before! This time it was not a burocratic man but a man that shined love to everyone around him. He hugged and smiled to everybody. He took time to the elderly, to the youth… Each time someone arrived he received that person as if he was welcoming Jesus Christ himself! Once we returned from an endowment session and his wife was taking care of our children in the waiting area! These people are among the few leaders that even today, I very much appreciate and respect.
After leaving the church we discovered that the church wasn’t what it claimed to be and we also found out the origins of the temple ordinances (free masonry). We were devastated. The “castle” fell apart all at once. The foundation of our family fell apart and we felt as we were sky-diving without a parachute. The period between January and April of 2009 was the period when I made the sad discovery that the mormon church is a fraud and when my wife and I had many feelings to process. We also had to deal with our oldest daughter, her heart was seriously broken, almost beyond repair. I apologized for bringing her up in a sect and for being so naive by accepting the mormon gospel. But we acknowledged that we are a family because my wife and I met in a Institute activity.
Looking behind, mormon temples are the place where women are humiliated and used as cleaning servants, the mades of the priesthood, and where the most stupid covenants are made. These pathetic promises can be also made outside the Temple, even on the day of your baptism. Before we were required to make those covenants we were never asked if we wanted to make them. How could we answer in all honesty if we did not know what we were going to promise?
The temple is past time now. There are good and bad memories but we keep the good ones. Many sacrifices were made to be able to go there, but I don’t regret them. It all made me a better person and thanks to the church I met my wonderful wife who I love so dearly. I met wonderful people who taught me so many wonderful lessons, but also the most hypocritical and judgemental people that I could ever meet.
Yes, I used to love the Temple. Now that one is going to be build in the city where I grew up I just think “if people only knew what that building really means…”