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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Major Temple News/Temple Progress Update/How many temples will there be and who will be the Prophet at the Church's Bicentennial Celebration?

Hello, all! I know I still haven't followed through on my promise to post a massive personal update. But in the last month, there have been important developments on the temple news front. Before getting to all that, I just wanted to let those who are interested and keeping track that we had one apostolic birthday since I last posted. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, the first of the three new apostles sustained in October, turned 65 on February 6. Also, the Church has not let any moss grow under the new apostles' feet. All of them have made their first international trips as apostles already and one of them, Elder Rasband, apparently has been assigned to sit with Elder D. Todd Christofferson on the Church Public Affairs Committee. I learned this when the Church reported that Elder Rasband and Elder Christofferson both greeted United States Vice President Joseph Biden at Church headquarters, presenting him with a copy of his family history. And Elder Dale G. Renlund was the assigned apostle to the Family Discovery Day at the RootsTech 2016 gathering. Just a bit of apostolic news for you.

Now, on the temple news front, much has happened. The Church announced the open house and dedication dates for the Fort Collins Colorado Temple. The open house will run from Friday August 19-Saturday September 10. The cultural celebration will take place on Saturday October 16 and the temple will be dedicated on Sunday October 17, two weeks after General Conference.

Ground was broken on Friday February 12 for the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who seems to have some role in monitoring the work of the Church in Africa. I was a little surprised, frankly, that Elder David A. Bednar wasn't asked to conduct that groundbreaking, as I know he has been involved in the past in previous facets of the work in Africa. But I guess the Church still follows the principle of rotating responsibilities, so maybe Elder Andersen was asked to succeed Elder Bednar in supervising the work in Africa. Construction of the temple is anticipated to be completed in late 2018.

Ground was broken for the Barranquilla Colombia Temple on Saturday February 20 by Elder Juan A. Uceda, president of the South America Northwest Area of the Church. Completion of the temple construction is anticipated in early or mid 2019.

The Church dropped a bombshell last week with the completely unanticipated announcement of the groundbreaking for the Durban South Africa Temple. The reason it was so unexpected, at least for me, is that I knew from talking with my mother, a South African native, that they were having a problem getting approval for the Durban temple to be built. I learned upon further investigation that President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, had left an apostolic blessing on the Durban Saints during a regional conference broadcast to the effect that, if they exercised their faith and prayed for it to happen, the groundbreaking would be announced soon. Another surprising facet of this announced groundbreaking, which will take place the Saturday after General Conference weekend (April 9), is that the groundbreaking was set without a site announcement given. The site announcement came within a day or two of the groundbreaking. I talked to my mother, a South Africa native, who knew exactly where it was and was able to inform me that it was one of the most beautiful sites in Durban.

President Henry B. Eyring, just as I predicted, was asked to preside at the Suva Fiji Temple Rededication Services, which took place last weekend in the middle of a cyclone. President Eyring stated he had prayed about it and felt impressed to go ahead with the dedication as scheduled, even though the storm had interrupted and cut short the cultural celebration the night before. With the faith of the Fiji Saints sustaining him, he rededicated that temple last Sunday.

Also, according to ldschurchtemples.com, two additional announced temples are in the construction approval phase and are very close to having a groundbreaking announced. The Arequipa Peru Temple, announced in October 2012, is going through a site rezoning due to local concerns. Building permits are also being acquired. The Rio de Janeiro Temple also is in the construction preparation phase and have had the site plans approved by the local government. I would be very much surprised if those temple groundbreakings were not announced very soon.

With work starting on another temple in Brazil, and since no progress has been made on the Fortaleza Brazil Temple since its groundbreaking in 2011 (most likely due to local oppostion/concerns), it wouldn't surprise me very much if the announcement for the Fortaleza Brazil temple was suspended, or if the temple site was relocated and another groundbreaking was held.

It is wonderful to see the progress being made on temples. I have been hoping that the Church will at some point make a goal to have 200 or more temples by the 200th anniversary of the Church's organization, April 6, 2030. It is very feasible. Two temples are anticipated to possibly have their completion by the end of this year. Even if only one is slated for completion, that would bring the Church temple total to 154 by the end of the year, leaving 46 to be completed within the following 13 years. By the end of 2017, the Church could have as many as 160 temples, leaving 40 to be completed within the following 12 years. That averages to a little more than 3 temples that would need to be completed each year between January 1, 2018-April 6, 2030.

This is definitely a feasible thing to anticipate. The hiatus on temple announcements seems to be officially over, and I am anticipating 3-5 potential temple announcements next general conference, especially with so much progress being made on what was previously seen as a backlog. In order to make sense of all the temple-related developments happening, I am posting my lists again: the first highlighting temple-related events (including my guesses as to who among the general authorities might be asked to participate in each of these events) and my personal list of temple progress, including estimated event dates where applicable. I have redone my list of temple progress, assigning a different font to the different types of temples (announced, under constrcution, being renovated, or scheduled for dedication and rededication). I hope these lists make sense. Here they are:

Upcoming Temple Events:

1.     Sunday March 20—Provo City Center Temple Dedication (150 operating, 15 under construction, 8 announced, 4 undergoing renovation)
NOTE: Since President Eyring presides at the previous rededication in Suva Fiji, President Uchtdorf will likely preside at this dedication. It would also not surprise me if Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland had some role in the dedicatory services. Both of them served as president of BYU, and Elder Holland presided at the groundbreaking for this temple.
2.     Saturday April 9—Durban South Africa Temple Groundbreaking (150 operating, 16 under construction, 7 announced, 4 undergoing renovation)
NOTE: The question of who will preside at this groundbreaking has not been addressed. It could be any member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with the most likely candidates being either Elder David A. Bednar or Neil L. Andersen, who seem to have some role in overseeing the progress of the Church in Africa), a member of the Presidency of the Seventy or one of the General Authority Seventies, with the most likely candidates being one of the members of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency: either Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder Stanley G. Ellis, or Elder Kevin S. Hamilton.
3.     Sunday August 21—Sapporo Japan Temple Dedication (151 operating, 15 under construction, 7 announced, 4 undergoing renovation)
NOTE: If President Uchtdorf presides at the previous dedication, President Eyring will likely preside at this dedication. It would also not surprise me if Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied whoever is presiding, since he as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and was serving as president of the Asia North Area, presided at the groundbreaking.
4.     Sunday September 4—Freiberg Germany Temple Rededication (151 operating, 15 under construction, 7 announced, 3 undergoing renovation)
NOTE: Since President Uchtdorf is a native German, and since President Eyring may preside at the previous dedication, it would make sense if he (President Uchtdorf) presides at this rededication.
5.     Sunday September 18—Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple Dedication (152 operating, 14 under construction, 7 announced, 3 undergoing renovation)
NOTE: If President Uchtdorf presides at the previous rededication, and since President Eyring was the one who broke ground for this temple, it would make sense if he (President Eyring) presides at this dedication.
6.     Sunday October 16—Fort Collins Colorado Temple Dedication (153 operating, 13 under construction, 7 announced, 3 undergoing renovation)

NOTE: If President Eyring presides at the previous dedication, it would make sense if President Uchtdorf is asked to preside at this dedication.

Temple Construction Progress (current as of 2/28/16)
Current Temple Status: 149 operating, 16 under construction (4 scheduled for dedication), 8 announced (1 groundbreaking scheduled), 5 undergoing renovation (2 scheduled for rededication).

Dedication scheduled:
150. Provo City Center Temple: Public open house tours underway; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday March 20, 2016.
151. Sapporo Japan Temple: Exterior floodlighting operational; work progressing on interior; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday August 21, 2016.
152. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Exterior nearly finished; seats and lockers being installed; scheduled to be dedicated Sunday September 18, 2016.
153. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Lampposts installed on the grounds; interior work underway;
Scheduled to be dedicated Sunday October 16, 2016.

Under Construction:
154. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Attachment of exterior stone cladding nearing completion; completion anticipated sometime during late 2016.
155. Paris France Temple: Attachment of exterior stone cladding nearing completion; completion anticipated sometime between late 2016 and early 2017.
156. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Installing window frames and temporary glass; completion anticipated sometime during early 2017.
157. Rome Italy Temple: Spire framework attached to both towers; completion anticipated sometime between mid-and-late 2017.
158. Meridian Idaho Temple: Installing windows; work progressing on interior; completion anticipated sometime during late 2017.
159. Cedar City Utah Temple: Structural framing and concrete shear walls rising; completion anticipated sometime during late 2017.
160. Tucson Arizona Temple:  Structural framing rising; precast walls for auxiliary building assembled; completion anticipated sometime between late 2017 and early 2018.
161. Concepcion Chile Temple: Foundation wrapped in waterproofing material; building out basement level; completion anticipated during late 2018.
162. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Ground broken on Saturday December 5, 2015; completion anticipated in late 2018.
163. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Ground broken on Friday, February 12, 2016; completion anticipated during late 2018.
164. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Ground broken on Saturday February 20, 2016; completion anticipated sometime between early-and-mid 2019.
166. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Full-scale construction pending; completion date TBD (To be determined).

Groundbreaking scheduled:
165. Durban South Africa Temple: Preparing for groundbreaking ceremony; groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday April 9, 2016.

Rededication scheduled:
33. Freiberg Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; adding extension; steeple covered; scheduled to be rededicated Sunday September 4, 2016.

Undergoing Renovation:
8. Idaho Falls Idaho Temple: Closed for renovation; interior remodeling underway; rededication anticipated sometime between late 2016 and early 2017.
41. Frankfurt Germany Temple: Closed for renovation; rededication anticipated in mid-2017.
20. Jordan River Utah Temple: Closed for renovation; construction trailers on site; rededication anticipated in late 2017.
Announced:
167. Arequipa Peru Temple: Construction preparation phase; temple site rezoned; acquiring building permits; groundbreaking date anticipated to be announced soon.
168. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Construction preparation phase; plans approved by local government; groundbreaking date anticipated to be announced soon.
169. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
170. Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple: Planning phase.
171. Bangkok Thailand Temple: Planning phase.
172. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
173. Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple: Planning phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Key:
Bolded numbers and text denote temples whose number already exists (for renovations), or is certain due to a scheduled dedication, as well as information that is certain, such as dedication or groundbreaking dates.
Italicized numbers and text denote temples whose number may change based on the order in which furture dedications may be scheduled.
Underlined numbers and text denote temples whose number may change based on the order in which their future groundbreakings are announced.

So, the question arises, what future temples might be announced? I know that the announcements for temples in Abidjan, Port-au-Prince and Bangkok were wholly unexpected. I have been and will continue to be keeping an eye on Matthew Martinich's predictions in this regard and share those predictions as soon as I can. I have felt very strongly that the Church could have 200 temples by the 200th anniversary of the Church with no problem. Also, as a side note, I was talking to my supervisor John Thomas about temple progress the other day, and he asked me who I thought would be the President of the Church for the bicentennial celebration. We agreed that it was most likely to be President Jeffrey R. Holland or President David A. Bednar by that time. 

It will be interesting to see the Church presidency pass from person to person. John says he thinks that President Russell M. Nelson will be the next prophet for at least a couple of years, followed by an also very short presidency for President Dallin H. Oaks. This would certainly follow what seems to be a standard practice for Church Presidencies. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith had a 14 year presidency. He was followed by President Brigham Young, who had nearly a 40 year presidency. President John Taylor served for almost 7 years, President Wilford Woodruff for close to 10 years, President Lorenzo Snow for 3 short years, President Joseph F. Smith for almost 18 years, President Heber J. Grant for a little over 26 years, President George Albert Smith for 6 years, President David O. McKay for almost 19 years, President Joseph Fielding Smith for just over 2 years, President Harold B. Lee for almost 18 months, President Spencer W. Kimball for nearly 13 years, President Ezra Taft Benson for 8 1/2 years, President Howard W. Hunter for a short 3/4 of a year, and President Gordon  B. Hinckley for just short of 13 years. President Thomas S. Monson just marked his 8th year as our prophet, and according to some, may not last very much longer. 

So it would be perfectly conceivable for us to have President Nelson as the 17th Prophet and President Dallin H. Oaks for the 18th Prophet before President Jeffrey R. Holland as the 19th or President David A. Bednar as the 20th Prophet serves during the Church's bicentennial conference. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. No doubt the Lord definitely numbers the years of his servants, and it is not hard to believe that he could lengthen the life of any Church president he chose beyond anyone's expectations, even to the point of some Church presidents living to become the first centenarian prophets of this dispensation. Time will tell.

At any rate, I've rambled on long enough. I have some things to do before bed, and it keeps getting earlier. Until I write my next post, whenever that might be, all the best!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Will You Be My Valentine?

There's been a lot going on for us personally. I will post with a personal update at some point this weekend--perhaps on Sunday. But I wanted to post on a few things first. This Sunday is the day known as St. Valentine's Day. With my cousin Hailey getting married this weekend and all the festivities associated with that, thoughts of my own special Valentine are ever-present. Growing up, I knew the woman I would marry needed to be a special person uniquely suited to deal with all my situation would entail. As I concluded my missionary service, thoughts of that special someone pressed on my mind. I could not have known then just how special and unique the woman the Lord was preparing for me would be. When I first met Amy Nuttall, I felt an impression she would be my wife one day. If I had been astute and more prepared, I would have gone after her that day in the temple. But the Lord had a different timetable in mind. Amy would need the next year to finish school (majoring in art) and take care of her mother, who had MS. So she needed that extra time with her family.

Her mother passed away in January 2010, and in the meantime our fast friendship was developing into love. I was reluctant to approach her, deathly afraid she'd say no. I know now I didn't need to worry about that. I only wish I had known that then. By the time the temple closed for cleaning in May of that year, Amy had grown tired of waiting for me. Though I didn't know about this until later, it turns out that both of us were fervently praying that a way would be open for us to get together.

She had done some detective work and had discovered my address. For several days, she wrestled over the contents of a letter she wanted to send to me. Finally settling on just the right thing to say, she sent the letter.

I can never forget the tender tone of that letter. In it, she expressed her admiration for me and her desire to get to know me better. She put it so tenderly: "I realize your life may be complicated, so if you ever wanted to go do something together, I would be happy to drive." She included her e-mail address. I resolved right away to take her up on her offer. I dashed off a reply befitting the invitation. That night, I informed my parents of the letter and my intention to act on it, and they expressed their support.

By the time the temple reopened, I had still not heard back from Amy. I saw her the next Friday at our usual shift, and she looked like she wanted to say something, but she didn't. Finally at the end of the night, I found her outside the room where we had waited for the last session of the day. She asked me if I had received her letter. I told her I had and that I had replied to it. She said she hadn't heard anything from me and was worried I wasn't interested. My exact reply: "I think it's definitely worth looking into."

I resent the e-mail that night, and over the next week, we exchanged several e-mails. We set up our first dates, agreeing that we were interested in more than just o ne initial date. By the end of our first week of dating, we both knew we were done looking for or considering anyone else as a potential marriage partner. We went on 14 dates in the first three weeks of our relationship.

By July 4th, we had decided we would proceed to marriage if the Lord sanctioned it. We fasted that day and both determined it was the right thing to do to become engaged. I proposed to her on the grounds of the Mount Timpanogos Temple. I told her the only tragedy in this life and in eternity that I couldn't bear to face would be if she were not there to share it with me. I knew she would accept, but I was still thrown by her prompt "Yes." We both recall my response to her acceptance. "Really?"

Our courtship lasted five months. If we'd had the opportunity to do so, we would have preferred to be married in October, most likely on the 7th, which is Amy's mother's birthday. But when we finally settled on a date, we set it for December 18th, which is the same day her parents got married. It's a date I will never be able to forget, because our wedding day marked my 6th anniversary as a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. One by one, the pieces fell into place for us to be married on December 18th. We found our first dwelling place a mere 4 days prior to the wedding.

We adopted as the theme scripture for our marriage Moroni 7:33. "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me, ye will have power to whatsoever thing is expedient in me." The memory of my feeling that Amy would be my future wife was only restored after our marriage, which was probably just as well for me.

Last Dcember marked our 5th anniversary as a married couple. For this commemorative year, Amy found rings with wood, which is the traditional 5th anniversary gift. For almost six years now, she has been my best friend, my closest confidante, my staunchest supporter (even when I made a wrong decision, which I still do all too frequently), and my compassionate caregiver. I will admit, I have not been even half the spouse to Amy that she has been to me. If I can ever be worthy of her, I will count myself the luckiest man alive.

And so, this Valentine's Day and every day, I rejoice in my eternal union to a woman who without hesitation gave her answer to a question I had penned in a poem written in High School, Thanks to her, I never have to ask this question again. Last year on Valentine's Day, I shared this poem, but not our story. So now I have shared that story. Here's the poem, along with my eternal thanks to the woman who is the answer to the question in the poem. I love you, sweetheart, now and forever!

“Will You Be My Valentine?”

I cast my eyes to the sky above,
It's so long since I've dared to love.
Will I be rejected again?
I need another special friend,

One with whom to share my dreams.
I had one once, or so it seemed.
But she abandoned me for another,
And they're now wrapped up in each other.

To see them now, it makes me sick.
I wish that I were half as slick,
As the one who took my girl away.
But now, alas, she will not stay.

So as to make her feel disgrace,
I've found another pretty face.
One whom I feel I can trust,
Or will it be another bust?

I do not know, I cannot guess,
If she at last will ease my stress.
And yet, unsure, these thoughts are mine,
“Will you please be my valentine?”