Today was a special day - it was the dedication of the Gila Valley Temple in Safford, Arizona. All regular church meetings were cancelled in the whole state and everyone who had a recommend was to attend the dedication. We could either attend at 3 p.m. at our old stake center or we could attend the session at 9 a.m. out in Wickenburg. Since Melon Man had to work until 7 a.m., he took clothes to change into and then I met him there. We had offered to pick up a couple older single ladies from our ward so I dropped by their place and picked them up. Soon, we were on our way out to Wickenburg - a short 34 mile drive up north. We left at 7 because we were sure a lot of other people would have had the same idea about wanting to see the cornerstone ceremony, plus we wanted to be able to sit up close on the pews. We got there and there were only about 4 other cars in the parking lot, including Melon Man's. We had to wait outside for a while and I was quite surprised at how few people ended up coming. It made me wonder...were there so few people there because they didn't want to get up early? Was it because it was a little bit of a drive? Or, was it because there are a lot of people who were not worthy to obtain a recommend? It was a question I pondered a lot before the dedication began.
As the dedication began, I felt a special extension of the spirit that was present there at the temple that day being extended out to us in the ward building we were in a few hundred miles away. It's amazing to me the power that God has to help us sense His presence even when we are far away and to know that what is happening is good in His eyes. When we sang The Spirit of God, my heart was really full and I knew that I was in the right place at the right time...where I should have been that day rather than taking a "freebie" day like I'm sure a lot of other people did. I also knew that the purpose of temples was real and that the work that is done there is important. I had seen the above handkerchiefs online and had ordered one for Melon Man and one for me for the dedication. When I told Lisa about them, she also ordered some for those in her family who would be attending as well. I thought they were beautiful for the occasion. I will cherish mine forever. Hopefully, someday soon we will be able to purchase them for the Phoenix temple dedication...but the way things are going, it will probably be a long time still.
I recently received an email from a friend who has relatives living near Safford. They shared a story and pictures of an event that occurred the day prior to the dedication that I was so very touched by that I wanted to record for history's sake. Although this story has been edited for length, I have kept it as close to original as possible to maintain its accuracy and the spirit which abided during the event.....
President Monson, President Eyring, Elder Holland, and others were in the Gila Valley this last weekend to dedicate the Gila Valley Temple. This is my cousin's story about meeting the Prophet on the side of the road.
Seeing the prophet's jet heading towards the Safford airport caused great excitement! It's the little white line at the top of the mountain. Kristen and Amy had made signs to welcome the prophet. Justin got construction barricades for the signs to be put on. We heard the news that the prophet would be landing around 2:00 so we decided to wait at the end of my in-laws drive way so we could wave to him as he drove by. We had no idea that we were in for the treat of a lifetime!
Here come his slew of cars....
The prophet instructed his driver to pull over. It did almost cause the cars behind his to rear end each other. After they got out of their cars Elder Henry B.Eyring said, "We need to have some signal for those of us behind you President so we know when you're stopping. This could have just made the church news." You can imagine our AWE when the cars pulled over. I had been told to take lots of good pictures so I ran closer thinking they might get out and wave to us then get back in their cars. The rest of the story is like a heavenly dream...
I am behind the camera so you can imagine my excitement seeing the prophet walking towards us. He was telling us to stay there and he would come to us, he didn't want us in the road. By great chance I happened to be the first person to greet President Monson. I shook his hand and gave him a gentle hug. I told him how happy we were to meet him. He said "It's good to be here and this looks like a good looking group!" As he walked away from me towards the group of friends and family it was an amazing moment for me. I got the chills.......the good kind, and I started to get emotional while trying to take in what was happening. I have always had a testimony that President Monson is a true prophet of God. But what a testimony building experience it was to have the spirit testify to me while shaking the prophet's hand that "This Is The Lord's Prophet On The Earth Today!" I felt the spirit so strong as I watched him walk towards the children and crowd. I am not normally an emotional person, but I got choked up and had tears of joy. I will forever be grateful for this experience.
It was great fun to see all his security people. I think they weren't too happy about the prophet being on the side of the road. The prophet's security was on top of things. There were so many men in suits to ensure the safety of the prophet.
I could not believe I was about to shake hands with the Prophet! What a humbling experience.
I have tried several times to help my kids understand what a rare and amazing opportunity they had to meet the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and two apostles, Elder Henry B. Eyring and Elder Jeffery R. Holland. They also got to see a member of the Seventy, Elder William R. Walker. They not only had the chance to shake their hands, they spoke like we were old friends. They asked the kids questions and listened to their responses. In this picture the prophet took Kendall by the face and told him and all the other kids right there to watch his ears. He proceeded to wiggle his ears! It was the cutest thing! The kids got quite a kick out of that. It was amazing to personally witness his profound love for the children! The prophet and General Athorities were all so genuine and personable. The prophet told the boys, "Looks like a bunch of future missionaries to me. Now you boys make sure to go on a mission."
Later on while driving back to Pima Logan said, "Tank you mom for letting us see the prophet!" He said it with such enthusiasm it was cute. Logan, being four, was oh so confused about the prophet getting here........he asked, "Mom, the prophet came here in an airplane right from heaven?" He then asked me, "Did he bring Jesus with him?"
I have to say Elder Holland and Elder Eyring would be at the top of my most favored apostles..........before this experience I mean.......and of course now after getting to meet them. What an experience to not just meet but actually visit with an apostle of Jesus Christ. I just couldn't take enough pictures to capture the intense feeling of joy, excitement and love that we felt.
Mom told President Monson about when she was just 12, she had to speak in a stake conference and he was one of the other speakers. I believe she said he had just been put into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time. After the conference he told her if she ever got kicked out of her house there would be a place for her at the Monson house! Without missing a beat he replied........"well, are you ready?!"
I can't fully express the experience to do it justice. To say it was a treat, a thrill, a treasure, exciting, amazing... would be a huge understatement.
Several times the prophet was being directed it was time to leave, he finally said, "Hey, I thought I was the one in charge." His humor is unmatched. As he was leaving the crowd we sang, "We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet." The prophet joined in with the singing. I got the chills again while our group, probably 40 people or so were singing with the prophet.
As he was walking to his car his security men were holding onto his arms to sort of aid him walking to the car. President Monson pushed them away and I said, "I can do it." He then held out his arms and walked the yellow line one foot infront of the other. He said, "See I still got it!"