I recently had the incredible opportunity to go back to France where I served my mission and attend the open house for the Paris Temple. It is now the 156th operating temple.
My mission president was Elder Neil L. Andersen who now serves as an apostle, and he took us on a personal tour through the temple. It brought back a flood of memories from my mission. Elder Andersen was about my age when he served as mission president. One thing all of us missionaries remember well is that when you would go in for an interview with President Andersen, he would have a shoe-shine kit and he would ask for your shoes. While he interviewed you, he would polish your shoes. I’ve often thought that it is reminiscent of what Jesus taught in John 13:14-15:
- If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Because of his example, it was not uncommon for me and others to polish our companion’s shoes as an act of service.
As we entered there were long lines of people lined up to go through the open house, many of whom were not of the LDS faith. As you enter the temple grounds there is a garden area with a large Christus (statue) in the gardens. I love that this immediately answers the question that many French people have about whether or not Mormons are Christians. Christ is clearly the focus of the gardens.
As we entered the temple, we stopped and put on slippers. Elder Andersen mentioned Exodus 3:5 “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” The Spirit was so strong as we went from room to room and Elder and Sister Andersen would teach us about the temple and share experiences they had while in France.
I was overwhelmed at the incredible blessing this temple would be for the members of the Church in France and for future generations. I kept getting the impression that I was there and taking part of something very important that was happening in France. This was a miracle of which I do not fully understand yet. Another miracle they’ve seen is the number of inactive members coming back to activity so they could attend the temple and receive the blessings that come from the sacred ordinances. An immediate blessing for me is that I’ve been able to reconnect with members & missionaries whom I haven’t seen in 25 years.
Brothers and Sisters I bear my testimony of living apostles and prophets called of God. Of the truth that Elder Andersen is a true and living Apostle of Jesus Christ, I am certain. Of the truth that the temple is the literal house of the Lord, I am certain. We are blessed with temples in every direction we turn. May we often find ourselves in holy places is my wish for our ward.
Love, Brother Bringhurst
This was taken from a bishopric message which I wrote in July 2017