It’s not every day you get a visit from two Apostles.
But for the Saints in Temple View, Hamilton, it was an occasion they will never forget.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, was in New Zealand to dedicate the new David O. McKay Stake and Cultural Events Centre and other buildings and facilities at Temple View, Hamilton.
He was joined by Apostle Neil L. Andersen and Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric.
“Temple View is a special, sacred place,” President Eyring said.
“It really is. Every time I’m here, I have that feeling. I’ve been here with President Hinckley and President Monson before. I could feel the faith of the people then. There are great people here.”
President Eyring had a packed schedule on his visit to Temple View, touring the Wendell B Mendenhall Library, including the Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre and Museum.
“There is a reason we talk about our families,” he said.
“We don’t just want to do good with our families, we want to do temple work so we can be sealed. People will come to the Centre, particularly people who are from this area, and have wonderful spiritual experiences. I can imagine people in the spirit world cheering!”
He then visited the Kai Hall and made sure to have an intimate meet with around 50 former Labour Missionaries in the George R Biesinger Hall.
Many of the labour missionaries in attendance played a huge role in building Church College, chapels and the temple in New Zealand.
Kahu Katene gave President Eyring, Elder Neil L Andersen and Bishop Dean M. Davies and other visitors a special Maori welcome.
President Eyring then thanked the missionaries.
“You have been laboring in the Lords service,” he said.
“He appreciates you. I express for Him and the Savior’s appreciation for you all.”
Former labour missionary Sister Lillian Kershaw, 81, was at the service.
Her late husband Tom served for 8-9 years as a brick layer, helping build Church College and the temple in 1952. Sister Kershaw served as a secretary for a year and a half.
“To have him personally thank us, it was very inspiring,” she said.
“And to think he actually asked to have time to spend with us. He didn’t have to come and say thank you. But he did. It was a beautiful experience. He was just lovely.”
“I saw him coming in and I just started to sing Whakaria Mai. It wasn’t planned. It led to the special spirit that I felt in the room. It was like having the Lord in our presence, an absolutely, special privilege.”
Eyring then headed off to watch over 200 Saints performed in a cultural celebration held at the new David O. McKay Stake and Cultural Events Centre.
“It was a wonderful celebration,” President Eyring said.
“It was very unique to this place. Superbly done. I couldn’t believe it. It had a great spirit.”
On Saturday morning, Saints gathered at the new stake Centre and all over the world via social media to witness President Eyring dedicate the Temple View Facilities.
He told the Saints the dedication was “a grand beginning”.
He spoke about arriving in New Zealand 40 years ago, taking some time to be alone and climb a hill until he was almost level with the temple spire. He then sat on his luggage and painted a watercolor of his beautiful surroundings.
“I don’t know if it captured what I felt that day,” he said. “I had a feeling I was looking at sacred ground.”
He was quick to point out the new temple buildings was the Lords work.
“The Lord did it. And the disciples who sacrifices and served each other and served him for generations.”
Before he dedicated the building, he reminded everyone the meaning,
“A dedication is an open prayer telling God, the Father, this is His. We are so grateful we have these buildings and we will do what you have us to do with it. Most of all, we dedicate our hearts.”
He then offered the dedicatory prayer.