Last week I attended the public open house for the Payson Utah Temple. Streams of people surrounded the temple and flowed through the building. I enjoyed joining them for a glimpse of the beautiful building. I won’t go into as much detail as my last experience at the Phoenix Temple open house. The basic tour followed the same format. The flower beds overflowed with perfect spring bulbs. The warm weather made it a great day to walk around the grounds.
I got to hold a charming, squirmy baby through the tour; a tangible reminder of the connection between temples and eternal families. The members in this area will love having a beautiful temple in their community. The exterior reminded me of a courthouse plus a spire. Lots of columns and embellishments. Layered corners. The stained glass gives a lovely splash of color. On the west side of the temple are the words “Holiness to the Lord – The House of the Lord”. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am trying to build my life like the temple–into the most beautiful thing it can be. With God’s help, it is possible.
Our family had a reservation on a Monday morning. The weather was perfect, with lots of sun and promising to be a hot day. We followed the volunteers who directed us to park in the lot of Wet-N-Wild water park. They were all super friendly. We saw one person we knew and got a 30 second update on how she was doing. I loved the helpful feeling exuded by everyone, they made me feel like they were so happy to be together and helping out.
My kids loved riding the tour bus the quarter mile over to the temple. They had never been on one before and we had to remind them to stay seated while the bus was driving.
At the temple, we went into the church next door where we watched a brief video explaining temples and their purpose. I like the quote by Elder Holland, who says he can’t picture heaven without his wife and family–it just wouldn’t be heaven without them. I agree. I can’t picture heaven without being surrounded by the people who make me happy.
Our tour guides were also very friendly. They explained it would be a silent tour and encouraged us to enjoy the quiet feeling in the temple and save our questions for afterwards.
After our introduction, we walked over to the temple entrance. I like the desert landscaping around the building. As we approached the door, helpful volunteers put shoe coverings on for us to protect the carpet in the building. They were all talking and laughing and enjoying themselves.
Inside the temple, we got to walk slowly through the entryway, with its beautiful door handles, mosaic floor, and sitting areas. Most of the walls are a pale sand color, but in the entryway there is a painting of Christ on a wall with dark paneling and art glass.
Next we went downstairs. The marble floor and marble stairs are shades of brown with swirls of pink. Very pretty.
The desert agave blossom motif on the anodized gold railing repeats throughout the building. I like how everything is very symmetrical and orderly and also uses themes from nature and neutral colors. To me, the interior design combines the best elements of a church, spa, and high-class hotel. Beautiful surroundings, peaceful, focusing on the experience of the individual. Only in the temple, the experience isn’t created to generate revenue for a corporation, instead the experience brings one closer to God.
Downstairs we walked past many more paintings depicting Jesus Christ. Scenes from his mortal ministry remind each of us that this home belongs to Him. More marble covers the floors and walls. Everything seemed exquisite to the last detail, yet not ornate enough to draw attention to itself. I also enjoyed the way the sitting areas were arranged to encourage contemplation. I could picture myself returning and enjoying the atmosphere. The focal point of the lower level in the temple is the baptismal font, with its teal and coral highlights. The mural behind makes it appear to be a continuation of the river.
The next room we entered had a beautiful mural painted on two walls depicting the Sonoran desert near Lake Pleasant.
My neighbor had told me a story about this mural, how this particular spot had a special meaning to one man who felt an answer to prayer there. He didn’t know that the mural would be painted at the same location where he liked to go for solitude. When he saw the mural for the first time, he felt surprised to see his “special” place depicted in the temple–another special place.
I enjoy the feeling of being outdoors while in the mural room. I love spending time in nature. It lends itself to contemplation. The murals of the desert feel like being outside here in Arizona, highlighting how “home” is always the most beautiful place, even in a desert.
The next room has beautiful columns that repeat the same agave blossom detail. Near the ceiling are geometric shapes that look like sunflowers and interlocking ovals. This room is brighter and lighter than the preceding room.
The next room was the Celestial room, which is the most beautiful room in the temple. It had a gorgeous stained glass oval window in the center of the ceiling. The window is underneath the exterior spire, so during the day, sunlight illuminates it. At night there are lights in the spire that illuminate the window.
Again, the rooms in the building are serenely beautiful with exquisite craftsmanship. Unlike the Gilbert Arizona Temple, which features a large crystal chandelier, this room has the oval window as a focal point with four smaller rectangular chandeliers. Stained glass windows surround the upper walls, repeating geometric themes found in the room.
The final room of the tour is the room where marriages are performed. One of the core beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” (from The Family: a Proclamation to the World)
After walking through the entire temple, we exited through the main entry. We were able to enjoy walking across the grounds where there is a fountain that also acts as a reflecting pond. One nice gentlemen there offered to snap a photo of our family for us. He took a couple photos and was generally helpful.
As we exited the temple grounds, there was a covered tent with more information, water, places to sit, and a photo booth for picture taking. The booth was convenient because with the crowds and heat, our photos outside didn’t turn out great. Here’s our family photo.
We hopped on the tour bus and returned to our car.
I was so impressed by how friendly everyone was. I loved the building and the beauty inside. I wanted to return again when it would not be busy so I could enjoy the serenity here. I also thought although this may be one of the most beautiful building in the state of Arizona, it probably doesn’t compare to what buildings are like in heaven. So why would God care about this building? He cares because when it has been dedicated, it belongs to Him. He also wants us to remember the beauty of everything He wants to share with us. He wants to give us everything He has.
So I got to tour this amazing temple, but unlike a construction worker who builds it and has to move on to the next project, I get to enjoy the beauty of this building for years to come. I also came away feeling inspired to keep my own home more organized and peaceful, to be more like the temple.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, especially if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and wonder what a Mormon temple tour is like.