Preparing to enter the temple as you prepare for a mission is an incredible opportunity and experience. We can talk a little more about the how-tos of temple preparation later, but first let’s look at what the temple is.
Many you have probably seen a temple before, but maybe not. Whether you’ve been a member of the Mormon faith for your entire life, or you’re just someone curious about the LDS temples, it’s helpful to be reminded of what a temple is, and why it’s important.
An LDS temple–much like a Buddhist or Sikh or Jewish temple–is a house of worship. But for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is also much more. It is the Lord’s house. It is sacred, and special. I think people often wonder what happens in those temples because it’s rarely talked about. Let’s make one thing very clear:
The temple isn’t secret; it is sacred.
When we go to the temple, we make covenants, or two-way promises, with God. As we keep our covenants, the Lord promises us certain blessings in this life and the life to come. The ordinance of baptism is an example of covenants most Christian denominations believe in and practice. When someone is baptized, they are making a covenant–showing their devotion and commitment to follow Christ. In return, the Lord promises to us the gift of His Spirit to be with us as a source of comfort and peace. The covenants made in the temple are like the covenant of baptism–ordinances are performed and covenants are made which allow us to be closer to our Father in Heaven.
Once we have made those covenants, we are encouraged (as situation permits) to return often to the temple. The temple is a house of learning, and as we continue to return to the temple, we will be reminded of those covenants we have made and will learn new things about God’s plan for his children.
It is important for everyone to enter the temple worthily and partake in these sacred covenants. However, as someone preparing to serve a mission, temple attendance becomes even more crucial. Those preparing to serve as representatives of Christ and His church must first be well acquainted with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and God’s plan for us. As we attend the temple, we will be able to learn and grow spiritually, and our testimony of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and His gospel will be strengthened. In addition, we will be able to feel of the Lord’s spirit as we enter that sacred house.
The effective missionary is the one with a strong testimony of the gospel who carries the Lord’s spirit with her. As missionaries-to-be, we want to take every opportunity to attend the temple so that we may come to an even clearer understanding of and fixed faith in Christ and His gospel. As we strengthen our testimony and faith, we will be able to know for ourselves of the truthfulness of the gospel, and be more effective in teaching those around us at home and in the mission field.
As you prepare for your mission, prayerfully consider when to attend the temple. Your bishop can be a helpful counselor in this process. As you devote yourself to the Lord and his teachings, you will be blessed immensely. I have seen this in my life, as well as the lives of my family and friends. Look forward and prepare for the day that you are able to worthily enter the temple and partake of those blessings and covenants.