When I first heard the news that my husband, James, had been offered a job working in overseas embassies, I was elated. My joy was even more full when I discovered that our first posting would be in Frankfurt, Germany, where a commute to the temple was only 20 minutes. I am from rural Utah where a commute to our temple district of Manti took two hours. The temple became very important to me after James and I, as newlyweds, were called to be temple coordinators in our married student ward in Cedar City. To move to Frankfurt where I could attend the temple weekly with other sisters in the ward strengthened my love and testimony of the Lord’s holy houses. I learned quickly, however, that I would not always be so close to a temple.
Our next three overseas assignments were in countries where a House of the Lord had not yet been built. I realized quickly that I would need to do as the Bible Dictionary states and make my house “compare with the temple in sacredness.” We did this in many ways and it was a process years in the making. First, we started deleting a song here or there from our music library that we realized was not in keeping with gospel standards. Once we became more comfortable with the idea of erasing those things from our lives, whole albums we had grown up on were tossed. Then we tackled the movies, throwing out all the movies that contained language and other content that would drive the Spirit away.
By the time our first child was born in Cairo, Egypt, we were feeling pretty comfortable with where we were at. A brief section of a journal entry from that time in my life explains another way I tried to make my home more like a temple: “Now, out here in Egypt, a temple is thousands of miles away, but I think on the ceremony and my covenants every chance I can.” By making the temple a priority in my thoughts and ponderings, I felt closer to the Lord and made my heart a holy place as well.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized we had more work to do. Not only did we have to get rid of the bad, but we needed to create an atmosphere that invited the good. I set to work purchasing pictures of the Savior, temples, scripture sayings, etc. This truly helped to create a place where my focus was more on my Savior and less on the world.
With our latest move from Skopje, Macedonia, James and I felt strongly that we should focus on finding a position in a country where we could be close to an actual temple. Bidding on assignments in the Foreign Service is quite a process. It’s almost like applying for a new job every two to three years. After studying over our options and praying about them for weeks, and then months, we finally submitted a list of six possible countries to the decision makers in at headquarters. All six were within an hour of a temple and we felt confident we had done all we could. It was time to leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.
Instead of receiving any of these options, we found ourselves without any offers. James spoke with the head of the regional division for Europe asking if there were any positions open at all. He offered James a job working in Russia. It wasn’t near a temple, but it felt right so we accepted. Over the last two years, every time we have chosen to take a family trip, we have made sure to pick a city or country within driving distance of a temple. It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I realized the Lord had blessed us to be closer to His holy houses. Flights out of Moscow are inexpensive to many European destinations. We have been able to visit more temples living here than the last four posts combined.
The Lord answered our prayers, just not in the way we imagined He would. As for the future? Our next post puts us within one hour of a temple. The Lord blesses us with the desires of our hearts as we actively make an effort to live the way He would have us live. I am so grateful for the peace that comes from standing in Holy places. My heart is so full of love for my Savior and gratitude for the safe harbors with which He has blessed us all if we will simply come unto Him.
* See also: Omni 1:26 “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.”
Author Janyece Swineford, an American gypsy, loves moving around the world with her husband and three boys. A few of her favorite things including composing music, singing, writing fantasy novels and being out in nature. Waterfalls and butterflies always catch her eye and listening to the wind howl and the thunder rumble is a favorite pastime.