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Learning to love the temple

Students share their experiences with the temple endowment and how continued attendance increases their knowledge and faith

A picture of an elaborate white building in a tropical setting.
A picture of the front of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
Photo by Yui Leung

Navigating the sacred journey of the temple endowment, BYU–Hawaii students shared cherished blessings intertwined with the challenges of adjustment to the new experience. Despite the challenges, they said they learned to have faith in the temple, embrace their sacred covenant and prioritize temple attendance.

Deciding to get endowed

During my second semester at BYU–Hawaii in 2019, I took a break from my school work to do baptisms for the dead in the Laie Hawaii Temple. Sitting in line and growing slightly impatient, I wondered “What if I were upstairs?” A strong feeling accompanied my next thought, “What if you were?”

Earlier that week, my bishop asked me if I was planning to go on a mission. I wasn’t. “Okay,” he said. “Would you still like to go through the temple?” I didn’t know what to say because I had never considered it. I didn’t even know that was an option.

I was back in my bishop’s office the next week telling him I had changed my mind.

I worked with him for three months. We met every few weeks so I could talk through the concerns and questions I had. He gave me pamphlets that explained the covenants I would be making. Most important for me was the reassurance he gave that I did not have to be perfect to go to the temple. He said I just had to be sincere.

I went home for the summer and had my parents come with me to my endowment session. My mother acted as my escort, leading me through the new experience. At the end of the endowment, we had time to sit, pray and talk quietly in the Celestial Room. I nestled between my parents on a couch and asked questions about what I learned.

I thought the experience would be life-changing, that it would feel the difference between salvation and damnation. But instead, I just felt at peace.

Temple myths

The semester before I decided to take out my endowments, I heard people talk about the temple in devotionals, religion classes, the cafeteria and church services. What they said terrified me. Some of the veiled references to things that happened in the temple left me confused and scared. I didn’t know who to ask about my concerns or what I should even ask about.

I have had friends who, like me, grew up in the church ask if people are naked in the temple or perform animal sacrifice. The answer to both questions is no. However, some people still have an unsettling first experience while receiving their endowment in the temple. Brandon Moore, an alumnus from Alaska who studied art education, said he had a horrible first temple experience. Because of minimal temple preparation, he said, “The whole session was very stressful, frustrating and overwhelming.”

Moore said the main reason for the unsettling experience was because nothing made sense to him. When he tried to ask questions, he said he was told not to talk about those things. “I felt stuck. I couldn’t get my questions answered and I couldn’t even ask questions,” he said.

What happens during the endowment

The endowment starts with the initiatory ordinances, which “includes special blessings regarding your divine heritage and potential,” says. During these ordinances, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website says participants will be authorized to wear the sacred temple garment, often called just garments, and instructed to wear them throughout their lives.

The rest of the endowment takes place in instruction rooms through video and temple officiators, says. Throughout the endowment, the Creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Apostasy, and the Restoration are presented as parts of the plan of salvation, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website also says participants “learn more about the way all people can return to the presence of the Lord.”

Five covenants or two-way promises between the person being endowed and God, are made by those who receive their endowment, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website says.

According to, participants in the endowment promise to obey the law of obedience, the law of sacrifice, the law of the gospel, the law of chastity and the law of consecration. More on what those covenants mean can be found on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website.

A middle-aged man and woman walk hand in hand in their Sunday best up the stairs among a garden in front of an elaborate white building.
A couple walking on the grounds of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
Photo by Yui Leung

Learning to love the garment

At the very beginning of the endowment, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website says the individual is clothed in the garment of the Holy Priesthood or what most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just call “garments.”

According to Elder Carlos E. Asay, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and former president of the Salt Lake Temple, the garment serves three important purposes: “It is a reminder of the sacred covenants made with the Lord in His holy house, a protective covering for the body, and a symbol of the modesty of dress and living that should characterize the lives of all the humble followers of Christ.”

Moore said after his endowment he refused to wear the garment because he felt it was weird and confusing. He said he now understands garments as a representation of taking on Christ. “That was a huge deal for me because it made so much more sense,” he said.

Annie Woods, a senior from Arizona studying psychology, said she also struggles to wear her garments at times. “I want to want and love my garments but I’m not there yet,” she said. Growing up in the church, Woods said she often heard relatives talk judgmentally about family members who weren’t wearing their garments. “If I wore them, I wanted to cry because I was uncomfortable and trying to get used to them,” she said, “If I didn’t [wear them], I wanted to cry because I thought people were judging me.”

Learning to love the endowment

Both Woods and Moore talked about the same scripture, Moses 5, which they said helped them have faith in the temple, even when it was uncomfortable. In the scripture, an angel asks Adam why he is sacrificing animals. Adam responds that he does not know why. He says he just knows that the Lord commanded him to. The angel then explains the importance of the sacrifice to Adam. “[Adam] was doing it out of obedience but he still learned from it, and that was kind of my experience,” said Moore.

Woods said she tried to go to the temple every week after receiving her endowment. Consistency with temple attendance and wearing her garments has helped make the whole experience easier for her, she said. She said she decided to get endowed because of the example set by her returned-missionary friends. She said she felt lighter when she was around them, and she wanted to have that light in her own life all the time. She said she hopes she can be that good of an example to others.

Moore’s mission president taught a lot about the temple, he said. Those teachings, along with classes from Rebekah Strain, Marcus Martins and Matthew Bowen, three teachers in the Faculty of Religious Education, helped him understand the temple, he said. All of those mentors taught Moore that it was okay to ask questions and seek to understand the temple, he said.

The blessings of temple worship

There are many blessings of temple worship, said Abby O’Neal, a BYUH alumna from Arizona. “Receiving my endowment was one of the best days of my life. It was so special to see the months of preparation both spiritually and mentally pay off when entering the temple for the first time,” she shared. She said her decision to receive her endowment was motivated by her desire to strengthen her relationship with God.

The temple is all about teaching people their divine identities and how much God loves them, O’Neal said. “Attending the temple helped me understand my eternal worth and continues to help me maintain an eternal perspective.”

O’Neal said she made a promise to herself to work as hard to enter and receive her temple endowment as she worked for her bachelor’s degree. “I continue to attend the temple whenever I feel like I need to get out of this world,” she shared. The temple helps O’Neal slow down and find peace in a fast-paced and pressured world, she said.

The importance of family led Sheldyn Hawea-Reid, a senior majoring in marketing from New Zealand, to work towards entering the temple, she said. She said she received her temple endowment during the COVID-19 pandemic, so only a few people could attend her first-time endowment session. “I had no idea what to expect. I kind of just experienced it all and tried to just feel the spirit that’s in the temple,” she explained.

Hawea-Reid said her patriarchal blessing says she will always find peace in the temple. “I have tried to always go to the temple so I can feel that peace and all the goodness I have felt there,” she said. Hawea-Red said what she feels in the temple cannot be felt anywhere else. If individuals focus on Jesus Christ and what they feel, they will be able to have a good experience at the temple, she said. “If you try to understand everything and get fixated on the physical things done in the temple, you will be overwhelmed,” she said. Hawea-Reid said the temple helps her feel close to her loved ones who have passed on from this life.