The Road to the Temple

 NPR recently did a story about a group of reporters’ visit to the newly constructed Draper Temple. The Draper Temple, by all appearances, is characteristically beautiful.

I am as intrigued by the process of building a new temple, as I am by the end product itself. Some of the most marvelous stories from church history involve sacrifices that the Saints – ancient and modern – have made in order to build a House consecrated to the Lord.

Unfortunately, the sacrifices and challenges that go into constructing a temple are often not immediately apparent, particularly to those of us living in North America. Looking at the process from the outside, temple construction is a very clean process – one which very few of us have any direct involvement with. Most of us only participate in temple construction through tithes and offerings. The physical experience of building a temple is missing, for most of us.

That’s why I find the following photos chronicling some of the construction of the Aba Nigeria temple so inspiring. They remind me that temples are of such importance that we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that members have access to them. A colleague at Church headquarters shared these pictures with me when I worked there a few years ago:

This is the original condition of the road that would lead to the Aba temple.

This is the road that would – eventually – lead the Saints of Nigeria to the Aba Temple. Unfortunately, the road was too muddy and dangerous to bring the supplies to construct the temple.


The bridge leading to the temple site was equally dangerous and impassable by the Church’s construction trucks.


In order to prevent problems like this, the Church expended tremendous resources to build a road through the town and to the temple.


This is the Church’s new road leading to the Aba Temple site.


Once the road was complete, the Church could begin the work of building the Temple itself.

The image of the construction of the road to the Nigerian Temple is a particularly powerful reminder to me of the significance of the temple. In our personal lives, getting to the temple can be just as difficult as it was for the Church to build a road to the Nigerian Temple. Sometimes our dangerous, muddy terrain consists of physical challenges (like getting lost on the way to the DC temple after scrimping money to rent a car to get there – only to have the car die in the temple parking lot) and sometimes our road is muddied by spiritual obstacles. My wife and I have observed that one of the eternal truisms is that the day of the month that we schedule to attend the temple will be the day most fraught with difficulty. There are always – always – obstacles to our temple attendance.

Overcoming the obstacles on the road to the temple is really what the temple is all about. Cleaning up the mud in our spiritual lives; building bridges to worthy temple attendance; those are the things that make the final product – the quiet solitude of the Celestial Room – so meaningful.

16 comments for “The Road to the Temple

  1. iguacufalls
    January 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Wow, Sheldon – What a great visual metaphor. Thanks for that.

  2. Ben H
    January 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Great post, Sheldon! It is so easy to forget the challenges our brothers and sisters in other lands face. I’m glad I lived within biking distance of the temple when I first went, because I really needed to go often to absorb the message. Nowadays, living in the East, it is sometimes more practical to wait until I’m visiting family in Utah and go there than to go out here, because it’s so far!

  3. Adam Greenwood
    January 14, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    That’s a dang pretty temple.

  4. January 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    A good reminder to build on a firm foundation and to stand in holy places. As well as the reminder to stay clean and pure. Thank you for the post.

  5. January 14, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I had to sit in the waiting room for an hour last week. My grandchildren will likely long tell the story of my pioneer sacrifice– back before the temple ceremony was done in the home on 3D Blu Ray…

    Other than that, my temple experience was great.

    And that is one awesome looking temple.

  6. January 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    What a beautiful analogy. And so true.

    Thanks for this post.

  7. Martin Willey
    January 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Love the analogy. Love the pictures. Silly question: What are those little horizontal things on the exterior of the completed temple?

  8. January 14, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Whenever my husband undertakes a project, it seems to take forever. He does all the planning, all the prep work, all the twice measuring, and FINALLY cuts and installs. It makes me crazy because I just want the thing DONE. (We’re building another house now (not literally–we’re having it built) and so it’s particularly sensitive.)

    If I were building this temple, I’d have bulldozed my way right in and had the truck dangling off the road. If Sam built it, he would do it just like the church did. Stabilized the bridge, built a concrete road, and taken a complete and thorough plan of action to the actual build.

    These pictures were awesome and inspiring. And though it wasn’t your intent, it reminded me how glad I am when my husband is the one who does a job. It’s always done right…the first time.

  9. Ray
    January 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Wow. Thank you.

    We really do lose sight of the magnitude of the importance of the temple when we see them popping up almost automatically. I imagine not a single person in that area, especially the people who live in that town, have any doubt whatsoever how much we value the temple – or the lengths to which those Saints will go to have one available.

  10. Eduard A. Erdtsieck
    January 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    The pictures and comments were beautiful and I looked all this and see the love of Father in heaven and Jesus Christ as it is expressed in a mortal world.

    Nigeria is a politically troubled nation, but the knowledge that there are sufficient worthy Nigerians with recommend delights me. To have their own Temple will be a great blessing for that nation.


  11. Sheldon
    January 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Alison – I believe that the little horizontal lines are just the product of a not-terrific photo. Check out the more “official” photo on the Church’s website.

  12. gloria hamson
    January 15, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Enjoyed these pictures. We were in Nigeria at the time of the road and temple building and blessed to meet the Strattons – missionary couple supervising the road and temple construction. One of the many miracles of the project is that Howard Stratton had been a road and bridge builder in Idaho prior to being called to Nigeria, andbefore the awareness of the need for road building there. Also, after the road was built, it was turned over to the local government as a gift from the Church creating much good will in the immediate neighborhood and on a larger political level.

  13. lamonte
    January 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

    When listening to Gladys Knight’s Saints United Voices choir sing “Come, Come Ye Saints” in their ‘Lion King’ rhythm, it is interesting to view pictures of church members making their way to the Aba Temple ( It reminds me that there are still pioneers making sacrifices in the world every bit as great as the first church members did. It is also a reminder that temple attendence should hold a significant place in our lives.

    Thanks Sheldon for this great post.

  14. January 15, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Sheldon, for an inspiring post. I’ve posted links to other quality sites about the temple at LDS Temples. I love the pictures in this post! I had no idea the Church created a road to the temple.

  15. Rob
    January 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I was able to help build the Portland Oregon temple (that’s how I earned my mission money), and there wasn’t anything clean about it–or most of the characters on the work crew! It was humbling to me that the Lord would accept our imperfect workmanship, and that once it was dedicated, it became so much more than just a beautiful building. It’s too bad most of us don’t get to serve the Lord by carrying rebar or building concrete forms…lots of spiritual insights to be learned in that kind of toil.

  16. Sheldon
    January 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Rob – what a cool opportunity. Thanks for sharing.

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