Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2016 Written by Wendy Fracchia Friday, 21 October 2016
Ok, disclaimer, this is going to be long but it was an amazing 10 day tour so just know that going in but feel free to jump around. You just can’t just wrap all that up in a few little paragraphs when we visited 3 of their 5 states; Victoria (Melbourne), Queensland (Cairns) and New South Wales (Sydney). I loved each for the different fun and sights they offered and I'll break them out so you can see what we did in each in case you're planning your own trip!
A little about our group. I got to have this experience with 25 of my newest family members. If you’ve never traveled with a group let me say, you should. It makes your journey a little sweeter. You know how every family has several different personalities and then of course you’re all different ages and in different stages of life BUT usually, if your lucky, in the end you love them and appreciate all the fun, good times and support they give and we were LUCKY! We had such a great, great group of people on this tour.
We visited the western side of the country which is very close in comparison with the United States in mass. A fact that still surprises many. We departed from Los Angeles on a Friday night and arrived into Melbourne on a Sunday morning…..wait where did my Saturday go? No the flight wasn’t exactly THAT long so don’t worry, it does show back up. The flight from LAX was just under 15 hrs. In hind sight I can say it went quicker than I expected. We changed planes in Sydney, easily cleared their immigration (without a stamp in my passport I’m sad to say) and connected to the domestic terminal for our flight to Melbourne. (Just so you know to the American traveler, it’s pronounced, Mel-bun.
To help us acclimate to the new time zone (+16hr) we needed to stay awake and had a 3hr tour of the city. Our guide helped us understand the culture of the country, the government system of Australia and the history of the city. After we checked into our hotel we had the night for our 1st opportunity to explore on our own which was one of the nicest things about this tour, there was both group and personal time in the cities.
Melbourne is a great mid-sized city that sits on the Yarra River on the lower south west corner of the country (think New Orleans on our map). It’s trendy and commercial at the same time. The hip street art and talented music & art performers around were entertaining on a walk through the down town area. Be sure you make time to visit the Eureka Tower an amazing view of the city and port. It’s 20AUS but well worth the view. They have a free trolley around the city you can use to see many highlights.
Being this was our 1st city visited we were easily excited by all the fun shops, people and places we saw. We learned that rubbish is indeed a term for garbage and they use toilet rather then bathroom as the PC term for, you know as well as other fun “Australia-isms”.
Our first official day in country we actually headed out of the city and drove south to Maru Koala Park for our introduction to one of the country’s iconic and favorite animals. The country symbol is actually the kangaroo but everyone is crazy for the koalas and we got to see both. The kangaroos ran wild without cages in the enclosure and we were able to hand feed them. We learned they’re actually soft to touch and these at least, liked to be petted. The Koala’s they had were cute but you couldn’t hold them in this state of Australia. Also a big surprise at this park was that the dingos are not the fierce dogs that snatch people’s babies as the movie suggested (while I’m sure the wild ones can) these guys were tame, trained and super fun to watch.
Afterwards we headed south just before sunset to Phillips Island nature Park to witness the nightly ritual of the Penguin Parade! These little guys are very famous and this Island is the home to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia. Every night at sunset they come back on shore in masses as a form of protection for the other island resident, the sea lion and waddle their way home. Watching how they preen themselves and interact was very interesting.
Cairns was our next stop on the tour. I have to say, this was my most anticipated place to visit for one reason, The Great Barrier Reef! Being an ocean lover, this was like Mt Everest to me. Cairns, pronounced Cans, is at the north end the Gold Coast (think Boston-ish on the map) and the gateway for most to the reef.
It is a beach town by definition, without a "beach". This isn’t a big city AT ALL. It has an older feel with the look of the low profile hotels and area businesses. The esplanade is the strip of land between the ocean and storefronts with a great boardwalk area that ends with a freshwater pool. You see, there isn’t a sand beach here for your enjoyment so they made this fun “lagoonish” swimming area with great white sand and lots of trees to lay under and relax. There are plenty of restaurants, gelato shops and of course, souvenirs stores in the area.
Be prepared for the bats, thousands of them that all call the library in the center of town home! They are amazing to see during the day and watch fly around at night.
Our next day was our day at the Great Barrier Reed!! There are several companies that operate day tours to the reef from the center of town. To explain what this trip was like will take a completely different blog post so let’s just say that is was a bucket item that has been checked off with a huge smile on my face!
Besides the reef, Cairns has an amazing gateway to a rainforest that was incredible to visit. To see the birds and nature was great but at the top of the mountain is the town of Kuranda which that offers tourist a chance to learn more about the plants and animals of this area but Queensland is the only state in Australia that allows you to HOLD the koala bears so that was indeed what we did and a super fun experience to have. We had an introduction to one of the local aboriginal tribes and then road the train back down the mountain. It was a great day and highly recommended to anyone who visits this area.
Sydney was our last stop on the tour. The downtown city area reminded me a lot of New York City with its soaring skyscraper buildings all so close together. I found it hard to get my directions straight because I didn’t have a landmarks to work from but once we found our way to the harbor it was amazing! All the highlights such as the Opera House you’ve seen over and over again are right there and it’s just so fun to bring the whole experience of Australia together for you.
We did a city tour that took us through The Rocks, the historical port area of Sydney where the convicts were brought to colonize the country that sits just under the steal arch Harbour Bridge. It was interesting to hear the saying, “Thank a Yank” referring to the American Revolutionary War that stopped England from shipping it’s prisoners from the US to Australia and giving us the country they have today. We visited Bondi Beach, one of the main surfing centers for locals and visitors alike. We saw different neighborhoods that make up the main city along with the old European buildings and churches that still function today.
Of course you can’t fully enjoy Sydney, a city that sits all along a massive harbour, without getting out on one of the water taxis which is what we did on our last day when we visited the Taranga Zoo which sits on the other side of the harbor. It is a great zoo and offer stunning views of the Opera House and Bridge, just to die for! On our ferry ride back to Circular Quay the taxi driver pointed out the dentist office that little Nemo found himself a visitor at in a very popular Disney movie……It made us all smile.
We ended our final day in Sydney in Darling Harbour which is an entertainment center with a lot of great restaurants to enjoy as well as the home of their IMAX Theater.
I wish we would have had 1 more day in Sydney to relax a little and enjoy the city but after 10 days it was time to come home. Remember that Saturday we lost flying out…..well it was great to leave Sydney at 10a to arrive San Francisco at 6a….THE SAME DAY and back home by 2p.
The distance to travel to Australia scares a lot of people but now having had this experience I would tell everyone that it is a small price to pay to enjoy what this country has to offer, especially to Americans. That also is enough for another blog post.
Written by Timothy Taggart Monday, 09 May 2016
The green hills and valleys of Ireland are dotted with white sheep and black and white dairy cows. The coasts include cliffs that plummet 700 feet and more to the water below and islands that are spectacular. The lakes and streams form a landscape as amazing as can be found on Earth. But when you add the vibrancy of the cities, towns and villages and the fun, dynamic personalities of the Irish people you have one of the greatest places to visit ever!
Our trip in April of 2016 included a grand tour of most of the Republic of Ireland. We flew into Dublin and enjoyed a half day bus tour of the city, which was a great introduction to the county on the 60th Anniversary of Irish Independence. The next day we began our journey south to the coastal city of Waterford, home of the fabulous Waterford Crystal. We then travelled north to visit the historic Rock Of Cashel, a spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapels, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. After Cashel we drove west across the island to Tralee on the west coast.
The beauty of this green land was apparent the next day as we visited Muckross House and Gardens which represents the focal point and nucleus of Killarney National Park. This is Ireland’s oldest National Park and it includes the world famous Lakes of Killarney, as well as the mountains and woodlands that surround them. This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney's three lakes, famed worldwide for their splendor and beauty. Today the principal rooms of Muckross House are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores similar to the Downton Abbey TV series.
From Tralee we travelled north to a ferry crossing across the River Shannon on our way to the Cliffs of Moher , one of Ireland's most spectacular sights. The Cliffs are over 700 feet high at the highest point and range for 4 miles over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. We left this spectacular ocean view and drove through the Burren National Park, a huge area of limestone lakes and cliffs with a lunar-like landscape of rock and cliffs. It included standing stones that date back to the ancient Druids. The most amazing sight was the hundreds of miles of rock walls along the roads and around each parcel of land in every direction. Each rock placed by hand over hundreds of years.
From the coastal city of Galway, we travelled north to visit Kylemore Abbey and Garden. Kylemore Abbey was built in tandem with Kylemore Castle in the late 17th Century by wealthy business man, Mitchell Henry and his wife. We visited the restored rooms of the Abbey and learned about its history and tales of tragedy and romance. We also enjoyed the peaceful and elegant atmosphere of the beautiful Gothic Church and explore the 6 acre Victorian Walled Garden with its magnificent restored buildings. When we arrived back in Galway we had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Galway Cathedral. Situated on the banks of the River Corrib in Galway city, it is the most recently built of Europe's great stone cathedrals, (dedicated in 1967) and perhaps the last.
As we travelled from Galway east towards Dublin the next day, we visited Clonmacnoise Abbey, an Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. The long and varied history of Clonmacnoise was fascinating. We enjoyed lunch on our way back to Dublin in a restored castle, now a lovely restaurant. There are over 30,000 castles and castle ruins in Ireland, you can’t go far without seeing one of these haunting reminders of the history of this great country.
Our final day in Ireland was a day at leisure in Dublin. Dublin is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. We saw wonderful sites such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and the Book of Kells, the beautiful St Stephen’s Green, the Chester Beatty Library (widely known as one of the most notable museums in Europe), the Kilmainham Jail (one of the most unique looks into the darker side of Irish history), the National Gallery of Ireland, the Dublin Castle, and enjoyed some amazing shopping.
Almost 35 million Americans descend from Irish immigrants. We now share with them the love of this incredibly green land filled with music, laughter and sights that inspire contemplation.
Written by Jack Marshall Friday, 18 March 2016
Why You Need To Go On A Cruise / By Jack Marshall
Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties. The first man had married a woman from Iowa and had told her that she was going to do dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple days, but on the third day he came home to a clean house and dishes washed and put away.
The second man had married a woman from Illinois He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table. The third man had married a girl from Idaho. He told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned,
dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the
first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher.
If this story describes your home life, than you need to go on a cruise. A cruise will provide an environment of romance for you and your “sweetie”. On a cruise you can enjoy secluded beaches while in port, in- room dinning on a balcony overlooking a deep turquoise blue ocean. You can enjoy spa services for two, or just sitting together listening to some live music for lovers, while holding hands. Look out over the horizon while the sun slips slowly into the ocean. These are just some of the romantic opportunities available while cruising.
On many Morris Murdock tours you can enjoy lectures and educational sessions on your cruise. I enjoy teaching about the culture, traditions, history and religions of the people of the many lands Morris Murdock Travel can take you to. In addition to that the cruise ship has classes for kids and adults, Salsa dancing, yoga, culinary classes and more. There are also pools, theatres, Vegas-style shows, bingo and so much more. Not to mention all the new friends you’ll make at dinner, on the pool deck, or while on your excursions!
One of our secretaries at work, before going on her first cruise, told me she was going to be careful of what she ate because, she was on a diet. I told her the last thing you worry about when you’re on a cruise is watching your diet. “You’re on vacation, for heaven’s sake! Vacation is synonymous with indulgence and ‘diet’ is derived from the verb “to die.” She replied by saying her diet goal was to weigh what her driver’s license says. I told her I couldn’t relate to that type of mentality, when it comes to food, my philosophy is, “I breathe…therefore I eat!
If you plan it well you can eat sixteen times a day! Tantalize your taste buds with gourmet meals that showcase exotic ingredients. In the dining room, you're the boss. Want two entrees? No problem. Don't like an entree? Your waiter will whisk it away and substitute any of the other selections available. This is your chance to try some of those unusual dishes you've always wanted to order, without feeling like you're wasting money.
I liked the attitude of one of our ladies on a tour I was teaching on. At the ships Mexican buffet she was eating her fourth Carne Asada taco . When a friend she was with brought it to her attention, she replied that she didn’t care, and then added “my body is a temple, with ample parking in the rear.”Also, you can order as many deserts as you want!
Ladies if your husband typically dresses like a fashion consultant for the Salvation Army Thrift Store, then you’ll enjoy the "formal dress " night , where men are expected to wear a suit or tuxedos, and women their finest.
You’ll find that your life will be lighter after a cruise. And you’ll discover that “once a cruiser always a cruiser!” So what are you waiting for, pick up that phone, call a Morris Murdock travel advisor and make a reservations and get cruising. I t will be a lot more enjoyable than waiting for the swelling to go down in your left eye!
Written by Chad Hawkins Friday, 11 March 2016
The Vernal Utah Temple is the fifty-first dedicated temple and the first to be built from an existing structure. Since its dedication in 1997, three additional buildings share the unique characteristic of being converted into latter-day temples (Copenhagen Denmark Temple, Manhattan New York Temple and Provo City Center Temple). All four of these temples now stand as monuments to those who built their original structures.
Converting an existing structure into a temple presents significant challenges to architects and builders. The temples in Vernal, Copenhagen and Provo were all constructed of aged brick and had their interiors completely removed. These structures were each reduced to literally a four-wall shell. The ground beneath them was excavated to make way for the characteristic features of a temple. The challenge in creating the high-rise temple in Manhattan was to create a feature that was heard but not seen. Extensive design and construction techniques were implemented to create a soundproof inner shell. Although the bustling city noise never stops, it does not disturb the quiet and serene atmosphere within the hallowed walls.
The following are stories and events pertaining to these historically significant temples:
Vernal Utah Temple
Dedicated November 2, 1997
In August 1907, President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the recently completed Uintah Stake Tabernacle, one of Ashley Valley’s most outstanding landmarks. At the dedication, President Smith said he “would not be surprised if a temple were built here some day.”1 His prophecy was fulfilled ninety years later when the beloved old tabernacle was converted into the beautiful new Vernal Utah Temple.
With the beginning of construction in the summer of 1995 came a search throughout the area for high-quality period brick to match the brick on the tabernacle walls. This brick would be used to replace damaged bricks and to construct a gateway. Satisfactory brick was found on only one house, owned by Nick J. Meagher. He had planned to raze the home but instead agreed to donate it to the Church. The bricks on the old home had the same markings as those used in the tabernacle, suggesting that they came from the same clay pit and kiln as the tabernacle bricks.
More than a thousand volunteers helped dismantle the home, brick by brick. The job took nearly two months of evenings and Saturdays to be completed. Members of all ages throughout the temple district donated their time and service. Small children stacked bricks while adults removed and cleaned them. Even a ninety-year-old man in a wheelchair helped clean bricks. When the project was over, about sixteen thousand bricks had been salvaged and prepared to become a part of the temple.
Interesting Fact: The oxen under the baptismal have a unique history—they were on public display for more than twenty years in the South Visitors’ Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
[Illustration caption: Original watercolor painting on display inside the Vernal Utah Temple.]
Copenhagen Denmark Temple
Dedicated May 23, 2004
The building of the Copenhagen Denmark Temple was announced on 17 March 1999. The temple in Copenhagen involved extensive renovation of the Priorvej Chapel. This chapel's original neo-classical building plans were created by Joseph Don Carlos Young, the son of Brigham Young.
The temple's baptistry is not located directly beneath the temple rather is strategically placed beneath the reflecting pool on the temple grounds. Beneath the water in the shallow reflecting pool are windows that let light into the underground baptismal room. The light that shines through the rippling water and into the baptistry often provides unique, subtle reflections of the water ripples from above.
The temple's front façade retained the old chapel's original columns. Five long windows on each side feature colored art glass from England, and above them the roof is made of copper, with a copper clad dome. A brick wall encloses a private garden, paved with granite, includes raised planter boxes filled with blossoming trees, bushes, and spring flowers. Materials used in the interior of the temple are distinctly Danish and Swedish. Also included are murals featuring 70 different animals including moose from Sweden.
Interesting Fact: The temple was built out of an existing chapel that was used as a public bomb shelter during World War II. Copenhagen Temple Historian Lis Billeskov Jansen said, "When people heard the sirens and alarms, they would run into the church."
[Illustration caption: This image includes a carefully rendered image of Bertel Thorvaldsen's Christus statue. The original Thorvaldsen statue is located in a church near the temple.]
Manhattan New York Temple
Dedicated June 13, 2004
Less than a year after the New York City skyline was decimated by terrorism, the church was planning a temple only four miles north of “ground zero.” In the months following September 11, 2001, New York New York Stake President Brent J. Belnap realized the possibility of church members leaving the city. He explained, “Rather than people leaving the city in droves, people with a pioneering desire have just committed more firmly than ever before to build the kingdom here.” Not only have wards not shut down, they are getting stronger. “We’re flourishing back here. I guess that’s one of the paradoxes,” the co-existence of times of “incredible sadness and turmoil and yet incredible blessings.”
The temple was created within the existing shell of the New York, New York Stake Center. The stake center was renovated to occupy the third and fourth floors with the chapel, classrooms, basketball court and administrative offices. The temple is located on the first, second, fifth and sixth floors. Converting a meetinghouse into a temple provided members with many unique opportunities to serve. Prior to demolition, members removed light fixtures, sinks, blackboards, tables and chairs for use in other church locations. As the extensive remodeling progressed, members frequently cleaned the building to keep the construction dirt and debris to a minimum. Extra cleaning efforts were made each Saturday in preparation for Sunday worship.
Following its dedication, the temple was not considered fully complete until nearly four months later when a ten-foot, statue of the Angel Moroni was hoisted into position as hundreds of spectators looked on.
Interesting Facts: The temple in Manhattan is located off Broadway, a block away from Central Park and across from the famed Juilliard School of Music. The temple's baptistry is on the first floor in a location originally occupied by two restaurants.
[Illustration caption: The image in this temple drawing is recognizable to those who attend this temple. On the surface shadows of the temple is Christ with two apostles on the road to Emmaus. This depiction is patterned after a stained glass scene located on the first floor of the temple.]
Provo City Center Temple
Scheduled dedication date: March 20, 2016
After more than 130 years of bringing the community together to celebrate and worship, the Provo Tabernacle's remaining scorched brick shell sat cold and dormant for nearly a year. Finally, during the October 2011 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson made the following historic announcement, "After careful study, we have decided to rebuild it with full preservation and restoration of the exterior, to become the second temple of the Church in the city of Provo." This news was received by audible gasps throughout the conference center. It has been called a phoenix rising out of the ashes.
President Thomas S. Monson set the tone and direction of the Provo City Center project when he announced the temple by using the words "preservation" and "restoration." These two words boldly declared the temple's design and materials would preserve and restore the of the old tabernacle. The action of preserving the tabernacle actually began the day of the tabernacle fire disaster. Church historians and curators immediately began a six-month effort to painstakingly go through the ash and rubble to document the building's details and retrieve any salvageable items. Although the original purpose of their work was to design a new tabernacle, all of their effort became a vital part of the temple's successful restoration. In the end, more than 14 tons of burned debris was removed out of the building.
Interesting Facts: The shortest distance between two operating temples is between the Provo Utah Temple and the Provo City Center Temple (2.34 miles). The greatest distance between two operating temples is between the Johannesburg South Africa Temple and the Aba Nigeria Temple (almost 5,000 miles).
[Illustration caption: Among the trees, the Savior is in the motion of inviting all to receive the blessings found in temple service. Additionally, the Provo Utah Temple is rendered in the distant vegetation behind the temple.]
Written by Karen Gerlach Tuesday, 01 March 2016
How cool is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?
I mean, what really compares to it's history, size, sound and pageantry that goes along with it everywhere it goes?
When they announced last year that the choir was going to Europe again after 19 years our phone started ringing to find out if we were going to be offering tours to go and see them preform. I mean, the cities they will be traveling to are so historic in their own right but add the layer of seeing a historically significant performance of "American's favorite Choir", well that is just icing on the cake.
We have 2 exciting tours we'd like to tell you about. The 1st one is our Sound of Music Tour. We'll tell you about the other tour next time.
Can't you just see yourself there now! We are going to join the many wonderful sites made famous from the movie with such historical significant sites such as Oberammergau & the Neuschwanstein Castle and Paris! Paris!
Here is a fun description of what you have to look forward to.
If you enjoy Cuckoo clocks, chocolate, lederhosen, the Trapp Family Singers and great music, then our Sound of Music Tour is just for you! This itinerary will bring you into the heart of Bavaria as you travel from Munich to Vienna. You will visit legendary castles, historic cities and behold beautiful scenery. I have been to many of these places and I fell in love with the beauty and charm of these areas that are set in fairytale settings! If you are a fan of the legendary movie The Sound of Music you will enjoy visiting many of the wonderful areas that were used during the filming of this beloved film. What a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while you are immersed in this breathtaking area of Europe!
Don't wait, we are only sending 100 lucky people eon this tour.
Written by Chad Hawkins Thursday, 18 February 2016
THE 150 TEMPLE MILESTONE
by Chad S. Hawkins - © Chad S. Hawkins
[Suggested temple illustrations to accompany article: Nauvoo, Bern, Winter Quarters]
Chad S. Hawkins is a well-known temple artist and historian whose career has taken him to six continents and over 100 temple locations. Chad’s artwork was selected and placed within the cornerstones of sixteen different temples. He is the author of seven Deseret Book publications. His latest publication, Temples of the New Millennium, includes his artwork, histories and fascinating facts of all 150 dedicated temples. Much of the content of this article can be found in this book. This significant publication celebrates the historic milestone of 150 dedicated temples. His artwork and new publication may be purchased at www.chadhawkins.com.
The church has become one large family scattered across the earth. Over 15.3 million members are found in nearly 200 nations and territories. A marvelous and wonderful work is coming to pass. With a sense of urgency, temples are continually being built closer to members in distant locations. Humble people in rural corners of developing nations are entering into binding eternal covenants and becoming "forever families." Today's church members are blessed to witness and participate in this historic season of vast temple expansion.
An important part of the gospel filling the whole earth pertains to the increase of latter day temples. In the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "We expect to see the day when temples will dot the earth, each one a house of the Lord; each one built in the mountains of the lord; each one a sacred sanctuary to which Israel and the Gentiles shall gather to receive the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps they will number in the hundreds, or even in the thousands, before the Lord returns."
President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the 100th operating temple of the Church, on 1 October 2000. In his dedicatory prayer he said, “Almighty Father, … in humility and with solemn reverence we bow before Thee on this historic day." Less than sixteen years later, another significant milestone in church history will be reached when the Provo City Center Temple is dedicated and becomes the 150th operating House of the Lord.
[Interesting Fact: On Friday, 21 September 2001, the Angel Moroni Statue was positioned on top of the following three temples; Nauvoo Illinois Temple, The Hague Netherlands Temple, and Boston Massachusetts Temple. The day marked the 178th anniversary of the Nephite prophet first appeared to Joseph Smith.]
Reflecting briefly on this historic temple expansion milestone provides an appreciation of the hastening of this great work. In this dispensation, the restoration of temple work began with construction of the Kirtland Temple in Ohio. The dedication of the Kirtland Temple was marked by a rich outpouring of spiritual manifestations and blessings. However, only a partial endowment was given in the Kirtland Temple, which served more as a multi-purpose facility than a temple in the present-day sense. Later, in Missouri, attempts to build temples were thwarted by enemies of the Church. In Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith instructed the array of revelations that comprise temple doctrine known today. His teachings included baptism for the dead, the endowment, celestial marriage and sealing together of family members. During a season of great turmoil, the Saints in Nauvoo hastened to complete a before leaving.
Four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, President Brigham Young chose the site for the future Salt Lake Temple. While construction progressed on the St. George, Logan, Manti and Salt Lake temples, ordinances were being performed in the Endowment House. Dedicated in 1855, this adobe and sandstone structure provided a location for thousands of endowments and eternal marriages for over three decades. Finally in 1893, the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple set the stage for a new century of temple expansion.
The first three decades of the twentieth century witnessed construction of three temples in the far-flung locations of Hawaii, Alberta and Arizona. Subsequently, temple blessings became available overseas with the dedication of temples in Switzerland, New Zealand and England. Desiring to further increase the availability of the temple to distant church members, President David O. McKay considered the building of a "Temple Ship." The planned ship was to sail into ports, "making a continuous tour of where there are people needing the blessing of the temple and the holy endowment." Although a ship was nearly purchased, the project was never finalized or approved.
[Interesting Fact: In 1945, the Mesa Arizona Temple became the first temple to present temple ordinances in a language other than English (Spanish).]
Continuously enhanced temple architecture and interior design reflected the growing numbers of members serving in the temple. For example, the Oakland California Temple was the first temple to include two instruction rooms, each seating two hundred. This innovative design allowed for two groups to receive instruction simultaneously, allowing for a new session to begin every hour. This highly efficient design was improved and expanded to six instruction rooms for the Ogden Utah Temple, Provo Utah Temple and Jordan River Temple.
Further aiding temple efficiencies was the ability to present temple ordinances in movie form. During the construction of the Bern Switzerland Temple, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve approved the making of a temple movie. Subsequently, the fifth floor assembly room of the Salt Lake Temple was organized into a makeshift movie set. Huge floor-to-ceiling backdrops were hung and large pulleys lifted props through the room's large windows. After a year of grueling work, mostly on weekends, the English version was completed. In the following months, other language productions were completed using primarily immigrants and returned missionaries who spoke various languages. Because President McKay had a personal friendship with M.G.M. film producer Cecil B. DeMille, that studio was especially helpful in suggesting solutions to logistical and audio problems with the temple movie.
Through the years, the process of funding temples also evolved. Earlier temples were funded largely by contributions of members living in the temple district. For example, the Laie Hawaii Temple was financed by members who participated in a variety of fund-raising projects, including holding concerts and creating and selling mats, fans, and other craft items at local bazaars. The São Paulo Brazil Temple was funded by faithful church members throughout South America. Those who did not have money to contribute offered their wedding rings, bracelets, gold medals, diamond rings, graduation rings and many other personal objects of gold, silver and precious stones. One member of the church in Argentina even offered his gold dental cap.
Although members today are not invited to fund their local temples, the spirit of sacrifice and giving is alive and well among temple loving members. Following the announcement of the Newport Beach California Temple, members living in the sixteen Orange County stakes requested and were granted the privilege to completely finance this beautiful House of the Lord. The temple was built entirely from member-donated funds, without any money from the church tithing funds. The objective of local members was to fund the temple in Newport Beach with the hope of other temples around the world could therefore be built sooner.
[Interesting Fact: Due to the requirements of earthquake engineering, the Newport Beach California Temple includes a massive 200 tons of rebar and over 3,000 cubic yards of specialized concrete.]
The biggest surge of temple construction came after President Gordon B. Hinckley announced during October 1997 general conference that small temples would be constructed in remote areas of the Church where the membership is small and not likely to grow very much in the future. This exciting news caused a tsunami of excitement among members throughout the world. An example of a temple being built in a region of small church membership is the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple in Canada, which is supported by only two stakes.
During the mid-1990s, members lived an average of 450 miles from a temple. During 1999- and 2002, 61 temples were dedicated dropping the average distance to 220 miles. Today, the average world wide distance for members to their nearest temple has been reduced to only 90 miles!
In March 2016, the Provo City Center Temple will be dedicated and the historic milestone of 150 dedicated temples will be reached. Without taking a moment to pause, the tremendous undertaking of temple expansion will continue until future milestones are reached. For now, a total of 173 temples have been dedicated, are under construction or have been announced. Among this large number are the following temples built on locations which honor the church's pioneer past: Palmyra New York Temple, Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple and Nauvoo Illinois Temple.
Interesting Fact: in Chad Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple drawing, to honor all of those early pioneers that did not go further than Winter Quarters is hidden the cemetery’s famous Avard Fairbanks sculpture, Tragedy at Winter Quarters. This statue is specifically located on the cemetery side of the temple. Additionally, an image of the Savior is posed near the temple's entrance in the motion of inviting all to the temple.
This is a season of collective and individual rejoicing. It is an appropriate time to ponder and apply the following inspired words of President Thomas S. Monson: "Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort."
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