Some people think temples are just for adults. Of course, some people think the moon is made of blue cheese, the earth is flat, and that white socks go well with a dark Sunday suit.
It has been like a giant window opened in the sky, and in a shimmery burst of gold, blessings seemed to float down upon the young people in Atlanta, thousands of sun-touched gifts from heaven, like birch leaves showering the ground in autumn.
The blessings started when the temple was announced—and the teenagers are still catching them.
“One morning early, when it was still dark and the sky was real clear, our seminary class went out to the temple site,” said Brad Day, 16. “We huddled there with our blankets. It was hard to concentrate on the seminary lesson, because of where we were. The teacher was good, but it was so exciting to think, this is where our temple is going to be. It was a magnetic type of feeling, drawing us to the temple. “It was a really neat experience. You felt so close to the Lord, like you could talk to him about any problems you had. It brought our youth group really close.”
Those feelings of excitement about the temple grew stronger and stronger as the completion of the temple grew closer.
“Our family had jars that we’d save money in for the temple,” said Liz McGuire, 16. “I gave money I earned from babysitting,” said another girl. “Everyone in our ward who gave money got a certificate for it.”
When the temple was completed, the young people helped at the open house by putting booties over the shoes of the thousands of visitors who came to see the temple before it was dedicated, so the carpets wouldn’t get dirty.
“I worked at the open house about seven days, in six-hour shifts,” said Kim Humphrey, 18. “I’d never lived by a temple before, and I realized from seeing the people who came from all around to see it how special it is to have one.”
“It was neat when we’d put the little slippers on people’s shoes, especially when my friends came up, because they’d make comments like ‘this is so pretty,’ and they’d come out saying what a neat experience it was to see the temple,” said Carol Anderson, 17.
Many of the teenagers brought their friends, and sometimes family, to the temple open house.
“At school the open house was publicized, and everyone was curious,” said Paula Sewell, 18. “They all know I’m a Latter-day Saint, and I got to bring my friends to the temple. Since there are only four or five of us Church members at my school out of 2,000 students, it was really good to be able to go through the temple with my friends. It gave them the chance to hear more about the Church.
“My family’s not active in the Church, but my mom and step-dad went through the temple on their lunch hour. I got to take my little brothers there, too, and that was neat going in with them and teaching them about the Church. My brothers thought it was great, and they were reverent. That’s really amazing, getting my six-year-old brother to be reverent,” said Paula.
For some people, like Emily Nielsen, 16, the temple brought special blessings.
“For me personally, the temple is very important,” said Emily. “My choicest memories have been made there. Our family adopted a baby, Matthew Kimball, and he was sealed to our family in the Los Angeles temple. As my brother and I followed our parents in their beautiful temple clothes into the temple, I knew that we’d be together forever.
“The temple and its ordinances are special to me because, I know that through them I will be with my best friend, my Mom, again, and that our relationship will last forever. I also know that if I live worthily, I’ll be able to be married in the temple to my eternal mate, and my mother will be there because she promised me.”
At the temple dedication, families attended together. Another shower of blessings fell upon the teenagers.
“Just sitting inside the temple during the dedication gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to live eternally with my family,” said Kerry Soper, 17. “It really brought my family closer together. The Spirit was so contagious, and you couldn’t think a negative thought because it was so peaceful and there was such a good spirit.
“It really affected my testimony. I don’t think it would be as strong as it is now without the temple. It made me re-evaluate what I believe and made me stronger in wanting to be married in the temple and to go on a mission.”
“I like going because it helps me remember my own baptism and gives more people a chance to be baptized into the Church,” said Lisa Lehnhof. “The workers there thanked us for coming last week, but that seems strange to me because it’s a blessing for us to be able to go.”
“When I got there, there were older people walking around in white,” said one girl. “It was so neat to see these older people who are still married, because my parents are divorced. They’re so sweet together, holding hands. It shows how things can be eternal.”
Christy Arrowood was able to do baptisms for her relatives. “I was baptized for my great-great-grandmother and her sister,” said Christy. “I felt their spirits and kind of got a picture in my mind of what it would be like up there and how long they had been waiting. It was really neat.”
The peace that the temple brings is another blessing that came to the young people.
“When you’re there, you don’t have to worry about anything outside,” said Shawn Tueller, 17. “It’s like you’re in a spiritual fort, and you’re protected by that. “My grandma works in the temple on Thursday and Friday, and I drive her down when it’s still dark outside and the temple lights are still on. That gives me a big lift.”
“When you go to the temple, there are special feelings that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Brad Day, 16. “Besides the warmth and calm and serene feeling you find there, you also get feelings of purpose and achievement. This comes from knowing that you’re doing what the Lord has commanded us.”
“When I lived in Utah, I’d do baptisms for the dead, and I didn’t know the people who baptized me,” said Kent Edman, 16. “In Atlanta, sometimes I go with my ward, so I may have my home teacher baptizing me. It makes it special when you know the person that you’re in the water with.”
“The thing that also makes the temple so peaceful is the fact that Jesus could have walked there,” said Lisa Lehnhof. “That awes me that I can be there too. He’s so perfect and good.”
Another blessing has been the impact on missionary work. “My dad is mission president, and they’ve had some baptisms from the open house,” said Kent Edman. “But the temple’s influence has been more than that, because it’s sparked a lot of interest.
“The people I work for live on the same road as the temple, and when they found out I was Mormon they were really interested. The lady wanted to know if she could have her daughter married in the temple, even though they’re Jewish. I’ve taken them some literature about the temple. The temple has helped the missionaries a lot because it’s a good door opener. People want to know more about it.”
“The temple’s been a great missionary tool,” added Scott Hammond. “It’s influenced me to want to help other people in our school learn what it is. They ask me more questions than ever.”
As Kerry Soper summed it up, “The temple symbolizes everything that brings happiness in this life. We need to be worthy to enter the temple and take part in its ordinances to find eternal happiness.”