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When we were called as full time young single adult missionaries for the country of Hungary….we wondered what kind of adventures we were headed for? We couldn’t have imagined that the last year and a half would hold the incredible experiences and myriad of miracles we have witnessed. We were told, “we would find our way” and know what direction we should go to build a successful program….so we turned to the Lord to see how to build our ship!
Direct and very powerful inspiration was given to focus on Temple covenants. Our activity level was very poor and few attending institute or regular Sunday meetings. We decided to plan a temple trip to our nearest temple in Freiberg, Germany. Because of the Frankfurt temple being renovated, and because so few temples are available in Eastern Europe we found that the Frieberg temple was booked and would not be able to accommodate us.
We continued to feel impressed we needed to take our young adults to the temple. Then one night we received very direct inspiration that we were to take our young adults to the Rome Temple open house. This was a historic event that would provide our young adults the opportunity to see a temple in its entirety without a current temple recommend. The idea was put aside as it seemed unlikely we could get permission to fly our young adults to Rome to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Again the inspiration came …. “Take the YSA to the Rome Temple” We decided to create a plan including costs, and requirements for them to qualify. When we had worked out a reasonable plan, we presented it to our priesthood leaders with all the details and criteria in which they could qualify.
They needed to attend 70% of institute classes, 70% of their Sunday meetings, strive to live the For the Strength of Youth, read from the scriptures daily, and participate in the YSA activities, and make a financial sacrifice towards the cost. They also needed to attend one of the 4 regional temple firesides educating them on the blessings of temple covenants. This would qualify them to fly as a group to Rome and experience this historic event.
We determined with our YSA committee to have this be the Year of the Temple. We would plan meaningful ways to plant desires of temple worthiness. They organized a Rome Temple kick-off event where we had a wonderful Italian dinner, a fireside where the qualifications were presented, and they filled out a commitment card with all the details they agreed to complete and took their picture in front of the Rome Temple as they made the commitment to participate.
This was done at the end of August in time for Institute to start. Amazingly, our numbers soared as everyone scrambled to fulfill the required guidelines. Everyone was reaching out to their friends, non-members and inactives to encourage them to come and participate in this wonderful opportunity.
We experienced so many miracles during these many months. We saw many roadblocks and hiccups and frustrations along the way, but each time tender mercies occurred, opening the way. We knew the Lord was directing this incredible journey as there was no other explanation of how this could have come together with every detail so seamlessly.
42 qualified and attended this “once in a lifetime opportunity” and when we held our returning testimony meeting we knew this had been a spiritual life-changing event in their lives. They had learned patterns of worthy covenant keepers and had a vision of how important temples were. They desired to obtain temple recommends and become worthy to be sealed eternally in the House of the Lord. We had three of our investigators return home and were baptized and one of our couples became engaged and set a date to return to be sealed.
When I stood in front of this chapel full of returning young adults, I felt impressed to tell them they were the future of Hungary and they would someday see a temple here.
As you can imagine, at the conclusion of the General Conference when President Nelson announced a temple in Hungary; elation, joy, and many tears and prayers of gratitude were offered for this miracle. Many asked me, “Sister Russell…How did you know?” And I had to admit I didn’t know, but the Lord knew this was our Year of the Temple!
The icing on the cake came in May when we were privileged to take 32 worthy recommend holders to the Frieberg temple for a week in the temple completing over 1800 baptisms, confirmations, and various other sacred ordinance work. When we arrived, five of our young adults were called as ordinance workers who were trained and officiated while we served in the temple together.
They are preparing for our Budapest temple and rising up for this amazing blessing. I don’t think there could have been anything sweeter than to see these young adults we love research family names and be worthy to be covenant keepers and desire the blessings of the temple and worship together in the Holy temple.
Oh the tender mercies of the Lord! He is truly in the details of our lives.