Good afternoon brothers and sisters. My name is Emerson Udy and as you may know I have been called to serve in the Portland, Oregon mission. The bishop has asked me to talk about something from the Preach my gospel manual and tell about how it draws me closer to my heavenly father. While preparing for this talk, I didn’t really know where to start. I thought a lot about what I could talk about and how it related to preach my gospel.
After I graduated from Skyline High School, I decided to attend Utah State to study Computer Engineering. While I was there, I was lucky enough to make some amazing friends. Most of my friends up there were LDS and they inspired me a lot. I saw how happy the gospel made them and their testimony really built mine up to what it is now. The ward I went to really changed my perspective of things also. Being in a ward where everyone was my own age really altered my feelings about the church. I knew it was a good thing before, but being in a place where everyone is in the same position that I am, with the same struggles and the same opportunities as me boosted made me realize that the church isn’t just something we do, but it’s how I choose to live my life.
I thought about this summer and realized that I have been to the temple many times since coming home from Utah State. At the beginning of the summer I wasn’t endowed so I couldn’t do an endowment session. Luckily, while away at school, I made some great friends and one of them named Nate came to Salt Lake. He was preparing for a mission as well and was going to the temple almost three times a week. He lived in Colorado, but was staying here and one thing he said was that there were many temples in Utah and that I was very lucky to have so many around. I think that often times we don’t realize how lucky we are to have so many temples within only a half hour or less of our neighborhood. I have a friend in Montana and the nearest temple to her is in Washington, which is a 4 hour drive from where she lives. It’s a blessing to me to be close enough to so many that I get to choose which one I want to go to. While Nate was here, we were going a couple times a week to do baptisms. Our goal was to attend all the temples in the Salt Lake Valley before he left.
In the Preach my Gospel manual it talks about the baptismal covenant saying:
“God has always required his children to make covenants. A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between god and man. God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey him. God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.”
I read this and thought about my own baptism. I know as an 8 year old boy I didn’t comprehend that at all. I just remember being excited that all my sins were going to be washed away so I could start over. Baptism truly is the first covenant we make with our heavenly father. We covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and always remember him and keep his commandments. As we keep our covenants, god promises us constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
In the temple, we do baptisms for the dead, which is an ordinance we perform for those who are unable to do it for themselves. Before they had fonts in the temple they did baptisms in the Mississippi river, but on January 19, 1841 the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation in D&C Section 124, commanding the saints to build a temple for revealing keys and powers of the priesthood for the living and the dead. READ D&C 124:29-31. In this revelation, it explains that there is no baptismal font on earth and there should be one built in the house of the lord. I know that this is a true ordinance and those of you that are of age 12 should go often to participate.
Usually, I have been the one being baptized, but recently I had the chance to do the baptizing. I was able to go to the temple with my friend. I had then been endowed so I had the opportunity to exercise my priesthood power by performing the baptisms. It was amazing to see all the different places that names are coming from. There are many spirits that are waiting for our help and are counting on us to do their work, because they are unable to do it. One thing that I remember a temple worker telling us is that they are running out of names in the baptistery so we need to be working on our family history.
Another ordinance performed in the temple is the endowment.
President Brigham Young describes the endowment as follows:
Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being able to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.
Another description of the endowment was given by James E. Talmage that reads:
The temple endowment, as administered in modern temples, comprises instruction relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations, and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history. This course of instruction includes a recital of the most prominent events of the creative period the condition of our parents in the garden of Eden, their disobedience and consequent expulsion from that blissful abode, their condition in the lone and dreary world when doomed to live by labor and sweat, the plan of redemption by which the great transgression may be atoned, the period of the great apostasy, the restoration of the Gospel with all its ancient powers and privileges, the absolute and indispensable condition of personal purity and devotion to the right in present life, and a strict compliance with gospel requirements.
This is a lot to take in. I don’t think anyone can understand it fully the first time. That’s why we must return to the temple many times. So we can learn and listen to what god is teaching us.
When the time came to plan a date for me to attend the temple I only really wanted one thing. And that was for my sister, Laurel, to come with me to the temple and share the experience with me. I had to plan quickly, because she was about to leave on her mission to Brazil. In July of this year, I went through the temple for the first time for myself. I didn’t really know what to expect before going, but I was pretty excited to go. The night before my dad told me a little bit about what to expect and a little about how the day was going to go.
At the end of the session I was in the Celestial room. I felt the spirit so strongly in there and I knew the lord wanted me to be there. He testified once again to me that he is really there and he is watching over me and guiding me along my way, and being there with my family made me realize that I am not alone in this life. My family will always be there for me on earth and the rest of eternity. I can’t wait for the day when I can be with all of them in heaven alongside my heavenly father.
Having Laurel with me when I received my endowment was one of the best decisions I have ever made, because I love my sister a lot and she has been a beacon of light for me in my life. Being in the temple with laurel and my parents made my temple experience so much better and it brought so much joy to me to know that they all would be in my life for eternity.
One other thing that we do in the temple is getting married. Marriages are another ordinance that we should all do. I haven’t been married in the temple so I don’t know a lot about it, but I am thankful that my parents were married in the temple. They are a great example to me and provide the guidance that I need in my life. I am also glad to be sealed to them for all eternity. It has become a goal of mine to be married in the temple. I am looking forward to the day that I can have that opportunity to be sealed to my spouse forever.
Next week there is a temple dedication for the Brigham City temple. The first thing I would like to do is invite all of you who are of age to talk to the bishop today so you can get a recommend to attend. This meeting is our church meeting for next week and it’s important for those who are eligible to attend. This temple will be the fourteenth one here in Utah. How lucky we are to have so many temples so near to us.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said: “The greatest blessings come to those who actually attend the temple.” I think for a lot of people they want to be there and have a testimony of the temple, but never get around to going. I would encourage all of you to attend at the very least, once a month. I promise that you will receive blessings that you can’t get anywhere else. In that same address from President Uchtdorf he also said, that going to the temple is a selfless and holy service that allows us to participate in the glorious work of becoming saviors on Mount Zion.
If for whatever reason you are unable to attend the temple at this time I would encourage you all to do whatever possible with whatever resources to put yourself in a position to obtain a temple recommend. The temple recommend is a symbol of our faithfulness and determination to serve the lord. It’s a symbol of our love for the lord. In John 14:21 it reads, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” To me, this means that each time we go to the temple we show god our love for him. We do a service when we worship in the temple.
I am excited to serve in the Portland, Oregon mission and before I close, I’d like to bear my testimony that I do know that this church is true. I know that the temple is a house of god and that he needs me to return there as often as I can. I know that god lives and that he loves me more than I can comprehend. Even though at times I make mistakes he will still love me along with all his children. I know that Joseph smith was a true prophet that restored this church on the earth. I know that president Monson is a true prophet that receives revelation for our day. I know that Christ suffered for our sins so that we may return to live with him. I know the book of Mormon is true and that it can answer all my questions if I read. I know my heavenly father guides me through my life and that this is where he wants me to be right now. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen