We are in the middle of celebrating the coming of two Houses of the Lord to West Africa. This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the Ghana Accra Temple. Next year we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the Aba Nigeria Temple. It is a great blessing to have these two temples in our midst. There are blessings that come to individuals, families and the nations of Africa because of these temples. These blessings extend not just to those who are living now, but to those who have passed on and to children not yet born. Blessings extend to those who have passed away as important ordinances are performed for them in these temples. Blessings extend to those not yet born as couples are sealed in these temples, allowing their children to be born in the covenant and have eternal family relationships through the actions of their parents.
We reverence our various meetinghouses. It is there where we go each week to partake of the sacrament. It is there that we are taught the gospel in our meetings and classes each week. It is there where we gather for ward and branch activities. It is there, in most cases, that new converts and children of record are baptized and confirmed.
The sacred temple has added spiritual and eternal significance. The temple is the only place on the earth where a man and a woman can be married, or “sealed”, for all eternity. It is the only place where children can be sealed to their parents, extending their relationship beyond the grave. It is the only place where persons can receive the blessings of the Endowment, preparing them to return to the presence of Heavenly Father when they complete their time on this earth. And, the temple is the only place where these ordinances, as well as baptism, confirmation and priesthood ordination, can be performed for our deceased relatives.
In the 124th section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explained to His people that there were sacred things, including sacred ordinances, that He wished to bestow upon them, but that He could not bestow until they built a temple – a “house” “unto [His] name”. (See Doctrine and Covenants 124:28-41) He promised that if they would “labor with all [their] might” to build the temple in the appointed place, He would “consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy”. (Doctrine and Covenants 124:43-44) The people did as they were commanded and built the Nauvoo Temple. It was, as promised, a holy spot to those early members of the Church. Some of my ancestors received their endowments in that holy House of the Lord.
But some of my deceased relatives have received their endowments not in that temple, but in the Accra and Aba temples. As I have done family history work here in West Africa, I have had the blessing to go to the temple in Accra, and to the temple in Aba, and do endowments and other ordinances for my deceased family members. As I have done so, not only have those deceased relatives received these saving ordinances, but I also have felt closer to God and have been blessed with His Spirit. God has made these two spots holy, just as He promised to do with the temple in Nauvoo.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has blessings waiting for us in these two temples. If you have not yet received your endowments or sealings, please meet with your bishop or branch president and find out what you need to do to receive them. If you have received them, please return to the temple as often as possible to do work for the dead and receive the spiritual blessings that you will find there. This may not be possible for those who live in countries far from the temple, but please see what is possible. Let us all, wherever we live, prepare family history records and either take them, or send them, to the temple so that temple ordinances are made available to our deceased relatives.
Please join in celebrating the anniversaries of the dedications of these two temples by renewing your commitment to the House of the Lord. Receive the blessings waiting for you there.