Why would we take an RV almost as old as me across the country from Arizona to Pennsylvania about 2,500 miles with no air conditioning, in the hot month of August with 5 children between 11 months to 12 years old? It all started one Sunday morning when President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said…
I will never forgot how my heart filled with gratitude that we would be blessed with a temple in Pennsylvania. Right away our Bishop encouraged all the members of the church especially the children to pray for the building of the temple. My children began to pray that day and did so for many years even after moving to Arizona four years ago.
The temple that was closest to where we lived in Pottstown, Pennsylvania was the Washington D.C. Temple which took about 3 hours to drive too. I love that temple and I have always been so grateful to have one within driving distance even if it would take up the whole day to get there, work in the temple and drive home. We spent almost every Saturday and sometimes Friday once a month visiting the D.C. Temple for about seven years whether we had one small child or three. Now, our family lives just 25 minutes from the Gilbert Temple yet it is harder for us to get there every month than it was when the temple was 165 miles away. Here is a picture of one of those many treks to the temple years ago…
Here are just some of the reasons why we decided to travel 2,500 miles to see the Open House of the temple with our family. Our experiences in the temple are cherished moments of time where we can reflect upon the blessings of being a child of God and helping us refocus on the things that matter most.
Here is a journal entry from the night before we were scheduled to visit the temple open house. If you want to see how our journey began, visit our blog post from Day 1 and 2.
“…About a mile from our friend’s home where we were staying, I heard a really loud noise. To me it sounded like maybe the breaks were bad. I mentioned the sound to my husband. We arrived at our friend’s house, unloaded the kids and went to talk to our friends. Jose and our friend, Dave, decided to drive the RV around the block and see if they could figure out what was going on. They were gone for at least an hour and I started to get worried. After chatting on the phone for a minute and finding out they got a little lost walking back since the RV did get stuck, they finally found there way back. They reported that just around the corner of the complex, the differentiatal shaft feel down and they couldn’t drive the RV. I couldn’t believe it, this was the third time it had broken down since we started our trip. This is what I saw when we drove by it later on to pick up some of our stuff from the RV.”You see that paracord holding the RV together? Well, when we were packing up the RV and getting ready to leave on our trip, my husband threw the paracord in the front seat. I asked him what it was for? I was really trying to pack as little as possible and I had no idea why we needed it. He said, “you never know.” I guess I am now grateful that he was prepared. I am thankful he has been scout master for a little bit and picked up some of these handy dandy skills, but I am still not sure if that is an official scout knot holding it together!
We were not sure how we were going to get to the temple Open House since it was too late to rent a car and we needed to hit the road early to make it to Philly in time. A dear friend of ours graciously loaned us their van for the day so that we could continue on with our plans to see and witness the highlight of our trip!
This is what greeted us the next day in Philly.
Here is some raw footage. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when the full version will be available.
To be finally back in Philadelphia to see the temple with my children was amazing. First, we went across the street to the gorgeous chapel and watched a short informative video about temples. It was fantastic! We then joined with a few others and a tour guide as we crossed the street to begin our tour. Here is where we waited for instructions before we had white booties put over our shoes. Below is a picture of our youngest son. Even he was so excited to see the temple although he refused to put on the shoe covers which resulted in me carrying him through the whole temple. He is pictured pointing to the top of the temple.
When the tour was finished, we exited through the back and came around to the Visitor Center building. There is a gorgeous picture of the temple at night right when you walk in. There are also many displays that children and adults alike can see and feel from the construction of the temple. Our little boy loved to touch the materials especially the door knob of the temple.
Above the Visitor Center there is a garden patio area that is awesome for taking pictures or just to sit and reflect upon what you saw in the temple. We ran into some friends from Arizona while taking pictures in the garden area.
After touring the beautiful temple, we went to change clothes and walk to Independence Hall and grab something to eat on the way. We first stopped at Logan Square to check out the large water fountain. Afterwards, we crossed the street and found “Thomas Fitzsimons” who was one of the Signers of the Constitution. As soon as I walked up his statue, I noticed he was looking right at the temple! How cool is that. It looks like Thomas always had his eye on where the temple would be! I thought I might be related to him so I logged into BYU Relative Finder and found out that I am not, but I am related to 29 other Signers of the Constitution. Pretty amazing website if you have done any family history on FamilySearch. Here is the link.
I was blown away by the many details in the architectural design of the temple that reflected what is found in Independence Hall. I can never enter Independence Hall without feeling a great respect for our founding fathers. There dedication to freedom and perseverance is unprecedented. There is a strong spirit there that brings tears to my eyes every time I have had the opportunity to visit this amazing place.
As we left Philadelphia later on that day, I reflected on visiting the same temple site but when only a parking lot existed as I was able to witness the ground breaking ceremony over 5 years ago. Here is some pictures from that special day which was even more exciting when my Mission President, Bishop Dean M. Davies, was in attendance.
I am undeniably grateful for the opportunity my family and I had to attend the Open House of the Phildadelphia temple. I find strength, peace and joy as I visit the temple often. It truly is the House of the Lord. As we were walking away from the temple, I turned around and took this picture while feeling that this is what life is all about. Do you see the construction sign that says, “Road Work Ahead?” That’s literally what the temple is all about. It is a place where we can draw closer to our Father in Heaven and “work” on being more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the atoning blood of our Savior, we all can live again with our families forever. Just like the other construction sign says in this image “One Way” there really is no other way but through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that we can find peace and joy in this life. He is the “one” and only way to happiness and peace in this world.
May you have this great opportunity to visit this beautiful temple before it is dedicated or if you have an opportunity to see one of the many others under construction right now, I HIGHLY recommend it!
To learn more about “My Faith” check out my profile at mormon.org.