Sunday, May 26, 2013

Missionary Farewell Talk - Paul


Ohayo Gosai-masu!  Good morning, brothers and sisters.  I’m thankful for this opportunity to stand before you and share some of my thoughts.  It’s great to see so many familiar faces.  I know some of you from when we served together in the Newark 2nd Ward, which included half of Newark and a part of Fremont.  Also many of you have made a tremendous impact in my life and my family over the years.  I am grateful for the great example you have been to me and my family.
I am grateful for the opportunity of serving together with Bishop Anderson, Brother Aquino, Brother Ross, and Brother Yoos.  And would like to congratulate the new Bishopric.  I know that they will do a great job.  Lastly, I am grateful for the great opportunity of serving together with my wife in the Japan Tokyo South Mission.  The “Land of Rising Sun”.  Home of my ancestors.  Returning home since I grew up in Hiroshima from 3 months old to 10 years old.

The gospel proclaimed to the world by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to the earth in this dispensation and is for the redemption of all mankind.  The Lord himself has revealed what is essential for the salvation and exaltation of his children.  One of these essentials is that temples are to be built for the performance of ordinances that cannot be performed in any other place.

Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples.  The Church is working to build temples all over the world to make temple blessings more available for a greater number of Heavenly Father's children.  At the last semi-annual General Conference of the Church in April, 2 additional temples were announced in Cedar City, Utah, and Rio Janeiro, Brazil.  I believe that worldwide there are 140 operating temples and 30 announced or under construction.

The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke about the building of temples:  “What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world?…. The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for these are the certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose…..  It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the Last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments.”

So what is a temple?
Elder James E. Talmage wrote:  “The term ‘temple’…. Is of restricted and specific meaning….A temple is…a place specially set apart for service  regarded as sacred…  The Latin Templum was the equivalent of the Hebrew Beth Elohim, and signified the abode of Deity; hence, as associated with Divine worship, it meant literally the House of the Lord……A temple is more than chapel or church, more than synagogue or cathedral; it is a structure erected as the house of the Lord, sacred to the closest communion between the Lord himself and the holy priesthood, and devoted to the highest and most sacred ordinances.”

We are blessed to have a beautiful Oakland Temple.   “A great white temple of the Lord will grace those hills, a glorious ensign to the nations.”  This was the prophecy of President George Albert Smith in 1924 when, as a member of the Council of the Twelve, he looked over the San Francisco East Bay hills. 
The site he envisioned was purchased in 1942, and construction of the magnificent five towered Oakland Temple, which commands a sweeping view of the entire Bay area and the Pacific Ocean, began 20 years later in May 1962.  The building is constructed (from base to tower) with sierra white granite.  The center tower is 169 feet high, and four smaller towers, each 95 feet high, are covered with blue glass mosaic and gold leaf.  At night they are illuminated from within.  There are two sculptured panels on the exterior north and south of the temple, one depicting the Savior in Palestine and the other his appearance to the Nephites in America.
It was dedicated November 17, 1964, by President of our Church, David O. McKay, the fifth and last temple he dedicated.

“What ordinances are performed in temples?”

Many Christians believe that at the time of death, our status before the Lord is determined for all eternity.  Christ said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Yet we know that many people have died without the ordinance of baptism, and according to Christ’s statement to Nicodemus, they would be eliminated from entering into the kingdom of God.  Baptism is an earthly ordinance that can be performed only by the living.  Baptism for the dead was practiced by the early Christians.  There was vicarious work for the dead at that time, and there is today.  Today, baptisms are again performed by the living in behalf of individuals who have died, as is also the laying on the hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost for these same deceased people.  These ordinances for the dead are performed only in the Temple, the house of the Lord.

The endowment is another ordinance performed in our temples.  It consists of two parts:  first, a series of instructions, and second, promises or covenants that person receiving the endowment makes ------promises to live righteously and comply with the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The endowment is an ordinance for the great blessing of the Saints ----- both living and dead.  It is also an ordinance performed by the living in behalf of deceased individuals.

Another temple ordinance is that of celestial marriage, where wife is sealed to husband and husband is sealed to wife for eternity.  We know that civil marriage end at death; but eternal marriages performed in the temple may exist forever.  Children born to a husband and wife after an eternal marriage are automatically sealed to their parents for eternity.  If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away.
In the ordinances of the temple, the foundations of the eternal family are sealed in place.  The Church has the responsibility ----and the authority ---- to preserve and protect the family as the foundation of society.  All of these priesthood temple ordinances are essential for the salvation and exaltation of children of Our Heavenly Father.
We have a great work to do.  We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in this life.  Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps:  first, by family history research to determine our ancestors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living.
There are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples.  They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others.  Then, there are some members who engage in temple work, but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets.

I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both blessings.
Three (3) months ago, we went to Japan, not only to visit my wife’s sister and her husband who are serving as senior missionaries, but also to do some family history research on my side of family in Hiroshima, Japan.  We visited a Buddhist Temple priest, who keeps a record for the living as well as for those who passed on.  Also we visited two city halls in Hiroshima and Wakayama.  We were really fortunate to uncover 4 generations and 40 ancestors.  We have a lot of temple work to do for them.

Those who passed on are anxiously waiting for us to search out their names and then go to the temples to officiate in their behalf.  The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”  He also said:  “This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures.  Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.”

When we attend the temple and perform the ordinances, certain blessings will come to us: 
·      We will receive the spirit of Elijah, which will turn our hearts to our spouse, to our children, and to our ancestors. 
·      We will love our family with a deeper love than we have loved before. 
·      Our hearts will be turned to our fathers and theirs to us. 
·      We will be endowed with power from on high as the Lord has promised.
·      We will receive the key of the knowledge of God.  We will learn how we can be like Him.  Even the power of godliness will be manifest to us.
·      We will be doing a great service to those who have passed to the other side of the veil in order that they might be “judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (D & C 138:34).

It would please the Lord for every adult member to be worthy of --- and to carry --- a current temple recommend, even if they won’t be able to use them.  The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.
All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple.  This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:  “Everything that occurs in the temple is eternal in its consequences…. Entering the temple is a privilege to be earned and not a right that automatically goes with Church membership.”

Brothers and Sisters, go to the temple often.  And those that don’t have a current recommend, make a commitment and see your Bishop.  We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship.  The temple is a sanctuary from the world.  It is a bit of heaven on earth. 

Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal.  Let us teach and share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple.  Let us seek with all our hearts and find for ourselves and our families, the blessings of the temple, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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