Five years ago our stake was divided and getting a temple in Jacksonville became the theme song of our new stake president. The first stake in Florida was established in Jacksonville, it was only fitting that a temple be built in Jacksonville. At every stake conference, leadership training, and Sunday visit, our stake president reminded us what it would take to get a temple in Jacksonville. Sunday we attended the dedication of a second temple in Florida and it wasn’t in Jacksonville. It was in Ft. Lauderdale.

Watching our neighbors get a temple, when we have longed for one ourselves is kind of like watching your neighbors get a new car–not just any car, not a Camry or a Versa, but a Tesla, a majorly cool car with more bells and whistles than any car on the market. On one hand, you’re really happy for your neighbors, they are wonderful people, and they deserve good things, but on the other hand, you are majorly jealous. You’re not getting a Tesla any time soon, and owning one would be so awesome.

Hearing Elder Uchtdorf speak at the dedication of the Ft. Lauderdale Temple completely erased any feeling of jealousy about our neighbors receiving a temple, and instead an overwhelming sense of responsibility took its place.

After reminding us that temples unite families, unite us with the Holy Ghost and unite us with all mankind, Elder Uchtdorf reminded us we have the responsibility to share the gospel with all our fellowmen.

After reading the passage from Ephesians, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God…” Elder Uchtdorf reminded us that we should behave like fellow citizens by helping others.

It is not the physical structure of the temple that blesses lives, he said. It is faithfulness to the commandments that blesses lives.

We were instructed to think of those who are not yet members of the church, to remember our deceased ancestors, to bring others to the temple, including our youth. If we really are grateful for the temple, Elder Uchtdorf said, we need to show it by keeping God’s commandments, and he quoted the Savior’s words, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” (John 14:21)

In addition, when we come to the temple, we must have the strength of clean hearts and the courage of pure hands.

Wow! That’s a lot of responsibility: share the gospel, help others, remember our deceased ancestors, our friends, our youth. Keep God’s commandments, be clean and have courage. It’s a little like owning an expensive and highly functional automobile. It’s awesome to own, but you have to take really good care of it, and taking care of it requires a lot of time and effort.

Temples are built to be used, and to be used often. Sometimes when we travel to the Orlando temple, which is our closest temple, the sessions are sparsely attended. Do you know when the Orlando temple has been full? When it has been so crowded that we have to wait in the marriage waiting room before we even enter the chapel? When there is no room in the parking lot and we have to park across the street at the stake center? I have seen the Orlando temple full to overflowing when the busses from South Florida show up.

How can we begrudge our neighbors in Ft. Lauderdale a temple, when they have earned it? They fully utilize the temple they already have, even though the distance for them to travel is far greater than it is for those of us in Jacksonville.

Having a temple close by is not only a great blessing, it is a great responsibility, and the folks in South Florida have proven themselves responsible. They have taken seriously the responsibility to do temple work in the temple they have had for the past twenty years.

Earning a temple in South Florida didn’t happen at all at once. The temple is the result of supreme faith. The first time the stake president in the Miami area arranged for a bus to take patrons to the Orlando temple only two or three saints showed up.

“What do you want us to do?” those faithful few inquired. “Get on the bus and go,” was the response. So with entire rows empty, the pioneers of stake temple trips in South Florida proceeded on their journey. Once the members realized the stake president was serious about filling a bus, the members, too, became serious about it. Eventually the members committed to go and the busses filled to capacity.

Now these faithful saints need not charter a bus to attend the temple. They can drive a Camry or Versa, take public transportation, or even a taxi. They have a temple of their very own because they know how to take care of it.


JeaNette Goates Smith is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and an author from Jacksonville, Florida. For more information go to