BYU–Hawaii students have been waiting for the Laie Hawaii Temple to enter phase three, which allows for limited proxy ordinances, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Community members shared their excitement to attend the temple again and the temple president says the temple is the Lord’s university where a person’s spiritual knowledge is grown.
Laie Hawaii Temple President James E. Hallstrom said the temple is the Lord’s university. In school, going to class and focusing helps students reach the next level, he shared. In the temple, the doctrine is the same, but the student’s understanding expands as they prepare to receive it, he added.
Students won’t understand the magnitude of their experience until they reflect on it, he explained. On a mission, Hallstrom said, missionaries stop praying for themselves and start praying for those around them. “The same happens in the temple,” he shared. “It happens overtime, not realizing the change is taking place in your heart.”
According to the Church website, phase three of the temple reopening plan means limited proxy ordinances can be performed, and all living ordinances continue, as necessary. However, the Church also announced ordinances must be scheduled by appointment only.
Hallstrom said students should take advantage of any ordinances available at the temple. “Come to be there and serve, whether as a temple worker or as a patron,” he said. “As you try to serve someone else, that’s when you’ll receive the greater blessing.”
He added students should come as soon as they feel safe. According to Hallstrom, the temple is maintaining strict prevention protocols such as mask wearing, temperature checks, and physical distancing.
Eric Marlowe, associate professor in the Faculty of Religious Education, said the temple is where the plan of salvation is taught in a more comprehensive manner. He added temple worship demands self-assessment of people's character, currently and in the future, and the covenants they make at the temple deeply connect visitors with heaven.
He explained temple and family history work are the same since students become saviors as they identify deceased family members and perform ordinances for them in the temple. “If initially your return to the temple is delayed, you don’t need an appointment to do family history,” he said.
Hallstrom said a benefit from the temple is to draw closer to God and receive stronger revelation there. President Hallstrom explained when he speaks in stake conferences, he speaks on the importance of saving ordinances and then ties them to the temple.
“Could you experience something like that driving along the mountains or sitting at home? Yes, but the Spirit is there in the temple,” Hallstrom added. The temple provides a much better experience and more direction, he shared.
Samuel Tobon, a senior from Colombia studying business management who was working at the temple when the pandemic began, said he plans on returning to work there as phase three of reopening begins.
He said it helps that members are continuing to do family history work to prepare for the reopening of the temple. “I think that after such a long time not being in the temple, there’s so much work to do,” he said.
Tobon reminded students they should ensure their temple recommends are valid by meeting with their bishops or stake presidents.
“In business terms, if Heavenly Father was a business owner, He spends a lot more than He asks for,” Tobon explained. “You would think that’s wasteful, but He still blesses us so much. That’s why your service matters.”
Tobon said the temple is important to him because it is a place where he made covenants. He added he also feels connected to his family since his father is a member of the temple presidency and his grandparents were temple workers.
“Our family has had constant conversations about the temple,” Tobon added. “Students might not relate to that personally, but I definitely feel the temple is a way to connect with your family here and across the veil."
Before working in the temple, Tobon said he felt he didn’t have time to be a temple worker. However, after remembering King Benjamin’s speech, he said he understood the Lord would help him make up the difference.
Tobon added he misses being inside the temple. Being separated from the world of phones and computers is great for the soul, he said. “It’s always good to take breaks. The temple helps you press the reset button so you can feel closer to God again.”
He and his wife have been walking on the temple grounds and singing hymns together, he shared. A picture of the temple reminds Tobon and his wife to raise their sights toward the temple, he remarked.
Hallstrom said the energy of the student workers often spiritually confirms that Heavenly Father is in charge of the work, and the students he sets apart understand the significance of the temple. “People feel that energy, and whether it’s in the temple or any church calling, you have the ability to touch lives,” he said.
Marlowe said the temple is one of the distinguishing pillars of the restored gospel. “Temple work allows for potential salvation of anyone who has ever lived on this planet, regardless of their earthly circumstances.”