Yesterday I told you about our special experience at the Hill Cumorah Pageant on the first night of our vacation. I'm going to skip ahead a few stops now to tell you about our visit to the new Indianapolis Temple Open House.
As I mentioned previously, our main purpose in traveling was to see my nephew before he leaves for his mission to the Marshall Islands (and to see another nephew receive his Eagle Scout Award.) But we decided rather last-minute to try and hit a few special spots on our drive to through NY, OH, and IN.
One of those places was the Indianapolis Temple. I made reservations online previous to leaving for our trip, but somehow I had it in my mind that our reservations were for Thursday afternoon. Only the night before, did I realize my mistake and that the Open House did not even open to the public until Friday.
I was bummed, but figured we could, at the very least drive by and walk the grounds. Even being near a temple (as we learned last year visiting the unfinished Philadelphia Temple) brings the spirit into our lives.
On this leg of the trip, we were traveling from Toledo, Ohio (where my SIL Renae lives) to Indianapolis, about a three-hour drive. While we drove, I read to the family out of the July 2015 Friend Magazine.
This edition of the magazine just happens to be full of WONDERFUL resources for helping children understand and appreciate the Temple! I really liked the "cartoon" explanation of what we learn in the temple and how we feel peace and strength from temple worship as well as the pictures of the inside of a real temple. My art-lovers enjoyed an article about a man who makes stained-glass windows for temples around the world.
At one point, one of the kids asked to see my temple recommend, which I gladly obliged.
All the while driving there, we didn't know if we'd be able to see inside the temple or not. In fact, we had resigned ourselves to just looking at it from the outside. Even though, we figured our mistake would prevent us from getting an inside tour, we still dressed in our Sunday best for the ride down there.
After we ran out of Friend articles to read, I read some out of the Ensign, including the article Pioneers: An Anchor for Today that tells the story of our ancestors' (Wealtha Bradford and Ira Stearns Hatch's) conversion. Upon hearing the gospel, Wealtha wanted to be baptized immediately, but her husband made her wait until after she had her baby. At the first chance she could after giving birth, Wealtha was baptized a member of the church. They had to break through the ice in order to perform her baptism.
When we spotted the temple from the road, my two-year-old said, "I found the TEMPLE!" She was so proud of herself!
As we pulled up to the temple, I asked my husband (again) if he was going to put his tie on. He informed me that he had no plans to do this, because his tie was packed away in the roof bag. Having just read the article about Wealtha's baptism, I said to my husband, "You're not being required to cut ice here..." He gave me a "you got me" look and searched through our stuff to find his tie...and I'm going to guess he was glad he did, because...
When we pulled into the parking lot, someone assured us that although that day they were only giving tours to V.I.P.s, we were welcome to go on a tour of the temple as well!
We could not believe our ears! Despite our mistake, we were going to get to go inside of the temple...all together as a family, for the very first time!
We felt so blessed...and were all so excited as we entered the chapel, watched a video about temples, and finally donned our booties! I just cannot describe how happy we felt and how lucky we knew we were to go inside!
The temple was so beautiful inside, more exquisite than I expected it to be. I loved all the artwork, the murals, the very fine details. They spared no expense. And more than that, the spirit was there. We were told that this temple is about 1.5 times larger than the Columbus Temple, but because of vaulted ceilings, it definitely felt bigger to me.
All throughout the temple is the flower of the Tulip Tree, the state tree of Indiana. It also happens to be one of my favorite trees ever since I took a tree identification class in college.
They had also painted the state bird--a cardinal--into the large mural in one of the instruction rooms. I was puzzled as to why they chose to paint two male cardinals instead of a male and a female (in nature, I almost never see a male without his female counterpart nearby.)
Anywho...enough of my pickiness about birds on murals! The rest of the temple was absolutely amazing. So holy. Just wonderful. And it was a special treat to see my favorite tree and my favorite bird in the temple decor. (My high school mascot was a cardinal!)
The neat thing about going on a VIP day is that there was not a huge crowd. In fact, there were only three other people in our tour besides us: a man from the temple department, and a married couple who lived nearby. What a rare opportunity to get such an intimate tour!
The couple in our tour group asked a question I'd never thought of before. They asked if we held funerals here. For some reason this struck me as a very interesting question.
The other interesting thing about our tour was that the tour group before us was a large delegation of representatives of many different faiths. They seemed to ask many questions and give long answers (we had to wait for them to finish a few times)...and at times they broke out into roaring laughter...an unusual sound to hear in the temple. It was neat to see the group pass by...wearing clothes particular to their faith or nationality. It was really, really neat.
My favorite part of the tour was stopping in the sealing room, which was the last room we saw on the tour. As the others in our group filed out, we had a quick family hug, and I told my children that this is where I want them to come back to some day to be married and that this is our family's "special place." I don't know if it sunk in what I was telling them, but I hope we will ALL remember our wonderful, rare day together in the Indianapolis Temple!
Outside of the temple, of course, we admired the lovely grounds and took photos by the fountain. Apparently, due to a storm, the fountain wasn't working until that day. Honor quickly discovered that the water flowed out where she could touch it, and that was exciting for her.
After a few photos, we were escorted to a large white, air-conditioned tent, where we read displays explaining more about our faith, took pictures by a large Christus replica, and ate yummy appetizers!
They handed out CDs of "This is the Christ" with special "Indianapolis Temple" inscriptions on the outside cover. They also had a photo booth set up for people to get their photos taken in front of a backdrop of the temple. The kids got a kick out of that.
Getting to tour the temple together as a family was so special! We were surprised to even get in and even more surprised to get such special treatment!!
Following out tour, we stopped in at the Orange Leaf frozen yogurt across the street from the temple for a treat...I'm going to predict that they'll be getting a lot of Mormon visitors in the near future!