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Go Forward With Faith

Brothers and Sisters, Aloha!

I trust you had a wonderful Memorial holiday weekend. I hope you were able to reflect upon those who sacrificed their lives that we may enjoy the freedoms and blessings we have in this great nation. To all of you who have served and those of you who continue to serve, I say thank you.I am grateful to be here with you on this wonderful island at this consecrated learning institution. You are magnifying your God-given talents and preparing yourselves to become better able and ready to serve the Lord in helping his kingdom grow on the earth. I believe my choices of becoming baptized into the Church, receiving the Priesthood, serving a mission, marrying in the temple and completing my education have developed and lead me to be the person I am today. Even decisions I made while serving in the Tahiti Papeete Mission affected who I am. The Papeete Tahiti Temple was under construction at that time. I really wanted to participate in that project. I was reminded that my purpose at that time was to be a missionary, not to build temples. I feel so blessed that 13 years later I was able to fulfill that desire to build temples. My testimony, although founded on sound principles and doctrine, was enhanced through the agency I used and experiences my Father in Heaven gave me.

I learned early in my career with the Church that there are four overriding principles I must follow to be successful in building temples: 1. “Trust in the Spirit of the Lord which leadeth to do good” [1] 2. Remember that “it is not meet that [the Lord] should command in all things” [2] 3. Go forward with faith by “cheerfully doing all things that lie in your power”, [3] and then 4. “Stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” [4]Let’s look at these principles in a little more detail by turning to the scriptures.

1. Trust in the Spirit of the Lord which leadeth to do good. The Lord loves each and every one of us. He wishes us to succeed in returning home to Him. His gift to us is the Holy Ghost. We strive each week to take accountability for our choices by repenting of our wrong doings and covenanting to always remember Him and keep his commandments. In return, we have the assurance that His Spirit will always be with us. We have been taught that the Spirit will teach you all things that you must know with knowledge and enlightenment given “line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little.” [5]In the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, the brother of Jared provided us with many experiences where his spiritual preparation gave him an opportunity to be tutored by the Spirit of the Lord. One such experience was when the brother of Jared was commanded to build barges to cross the sea that they may inherit a land which was choice above all other lands. The brother of Jared built the barges tight like unto a dish. He cried unto the Lord, “in them there is no light … And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.” The Lord responded by saying, “thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air.” [6]The brother of Jared was a man of God and conducted himself in a way that allowed the Lord to openly communicate with him. The brother of Jared received an answer and was given a solution to only one of his concerns – how to get air in the barges. He did not receive an answer to his concern regarding light in the vessels.

2. Remember that “it is not meet that [the Lord] should command in all things” The Lord wishes us to grow and learn as we make our own decisions. He also wants us to counsel with him in all our doings. When the barges were built, the brother of Jared again cried to the Lord and exclaimed that he had accomplished the work that he was commanded to do, which was to add holes in the barges for air. The brother of Jared said, “behold there is not light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?” The Lord replied, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” [7]Far too often we ask the Lord to resolve our problems without taking any thought beforehand of what we should do. We are endowed with intelligence and we must use it. The question posed to the brother of Jared by the Lord is like asking, “What are your thoughts? Is there anything you can think of doing that would provide light in your vessels? Why don’t you think about it and come back when you have a solution.”

3. Go forward with faith by “cheerfully doing all things that lie in your power”. Surely the brother of Jared spent time pondering, praying and fasting upon the question from the Lord before coming up with an idea, which was to molten out of rock sixteen small stones. His action of producing out of rock sixteen small stones was a demonstration of his faith. He actively pursued a solution to his problem. President Harold B. Lee said, “This is the principle in action. If you want the blessing, don’t just kneel down and pray about it. Prepare yourselves in every conceivable way you can in order to make yourselves worthy to receive the blessing you seek.” [8]4. “Stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed”. It surely challenged the brother of Jared to find a solution that would provide light without harming the people, the animals and the vessels. Producing the small stones was not a simple task. The rocks would have to be intensely heated and formed. He had to find the proper materials and work it to become white and clear, even as transparent glass. He believed the Lord had all power and that by asking the Lord to touch the stones, light would emanate from them. He did all he could do and relied completely upon the Lord’s grace to reveal his arm by performing a miracle of faith. And the Lord did perform a miracle. He stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger to illuminate them so the brother of Jared and his people could cross the great waters in light rather than darkness.

In 2004, I was managing the completion of the Manhattan New York Temple project. As a Church Project Manager, I was responsible to hire a professional construction company to ensure that the design approved by the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric was indeed delivered on schedule and according to the design. The temple in Manhattan is very unique. It was constructed within an existing multi-level, multi-use building that required an interior renovation to become a temple. The only other temple to have multiple uses within the structure of the building is the Hong Kong China Temple. When we began, the temple design was comprised of a part of the ground floor for the Baptistery and the fifth and sixth floors for other ordinance and administrative spaces. The second, third and fourth floors of the building were used by the members as meetinghouse space. Through the course of the project the temple space grew to include a clothing issue and Public Affairs offices on the second floor and some other administrative office spaces on the fourth floor. Another item added was a steeple topped by an Angel Moroni statue. When new space is added to a project it requires new designs, modifications to the contract, additional funds and additional time. We try to incorporate enough time in the project to accommodate some minor changes, but not to the extent of the changes required to complete the Manhattan New York Temple. When I was asked to add a steeple and Angel Moroni to the temple, we had completed the interior finishes of one of the endowment rooms on the fifth floor and the Public Affairs offices on the second floor. Because the steeple was to be placed upon the outside corner of the building, the structural design required us to run steel columns and beams from the underground parking level of the building to the roof. The general contractor had to remove and replace all of the newly placed finishes to accommodate the new design. With only 3.5 months remaining to the temple dedication, I received instructions to replace the exterior façade to the temple on the street level, which consisted of commercial storefronts which were not consistent with the exterior of a temple. This may seem like a simple task of replacing a wall, but my efforts were met with insurmountable obstacles that only the hand of the Lord could overcome.

I prescribe to a technique taught by President Gordon B. Hinckley as described in his book entitled, Standing for Something. President Hinckley said,“If there is any one thing that you and I need, to help us find success and fulfillment in this world it is faith – that dynamic powerful, marvelous element by which, as Paul declared, the very worlds were framed. I refer not to some ethereal concept but to a practical, pragmatic, working faith – the kind of faith that moves us to get on our knees and plead with the Lord for guidance, and then, having a measure of divine confidence, get on our feet and go to work to help bring the desired results to pass.” [9]After pleading with the Lord for guidance on how to accomplish the task before me and not receiving an immediate answer to my prayer, I pondered the steps required to building the façade of the temple. I got on my feet and scheduled a meeting with the general contractor.I sat across the table from the superintendent for the general contractor and relayed to him our latest challenge and dilemma. Picture in your mind a man already stressed and challenged to complete the project on time to allow the Open House to proceed as scheduled. Invitations had been sent to visiting VIPs and there was no latitude to extend the contract time to complete the project. President Hinckley scheduled the temple dedication almost one year earlier due to his tight schedule. The superintendent, a non-member, sat silently for a moment before responding. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Cory, what you are asking us to do is impossible with the remaining time before the Open House and Dedication. You need to let your prophet know it cannot be done. Our company cannot take on that liability and will not do this added work.” Obviously, the superintendent didn’t know what a prophet was and from whom he received direction. My heart sank. I didn’t know what to do. I returned to my hotel in a daze, wondering how to proceed. I earnestly pondered the situation for a few days. After letting my supervisors know that the general contractor refused to help with this new directive and that I didn’t know how best to proceed, I went to my knees. I pleaded for guidance and direction. When I arose I reflected upon President Hinckley’s words and had a renewed confidence that I needed to pursue every possible solution to bring this task to completion. I could not see how the temple could realistically be completed on time, but I knew that if President Hinckley said the temple would be dedicated on a certain day, I had to commit to doing everything I could to make it happen. And so the journey began.

It was the beginning of March 2004. I had approximately 2.5 months before the Open House and 3.5 months before the Temple Dedication, which was scheduled for mid-June.The architects had created a design for the façade or wall of the temple, but that was only the first step in the process. The façade design incorporated a large quantity of ¾” thick polished Italian marble. Other steps necessary to complete this task were to find and purchase the marble stone for the wall, produce shop drawings showing how the stone would be installed and fabricate the shop tickets, which tell the stone cutter the sizes in which to cut the stone. Then the stone needed to be installed and some kind of decorative landscaping element added to soften the look and feel of the walkway outside the temple.Typically, it takes 4 – 6 months to receive a shipment of stone after the shop tickets are delivered to the stone fabricator or stone cutter. Having managed several temple projects previously, I was aware of some stone suppliers and fabricators. I called them to see if there was any ¾” thick polished Italian marble available. Within a week of informing the superintendent of the need to add a façade to the project design, I had called every stone supplier I knew of, but found no one that could help me.While pursuing the stone, I also knew that I had to find someone to produce the stone shop tickets, which details each individual stone’s dimensions. I called several firms, but their work load prevented them from taking on another job, especially one that needed to be completed within the next few weeks.I was at a loss as to what to do next. Constantly seeking for guidance and trusting in the Spirit to provide that guidance, I continued to press forward calling and pleading with anyone I could think of. I spread word of my dilemma throughout the United States and Canada. A week later one of the firms called me and asked if I still needed help in producing shop drawings and the stone shop tickets.

Miraculously, a two-week window opened in the firm’s schedule that allowed them to take on this project. Two weeks was just the right amount of time required to complete the entire job. Almost in tears, I gratefully asked, “Yes, how soon can you begin?” We began producing the shop drawings and fabrication tickets without having any stone yet. A few weeks later, about a month after my conversation with the project superintendent, I received a call from a stone supplier that said he had received a call from a loading dock in Los Angeles, California, that had a shipment of ¾” thick polished Italian marble sitting in a container. Apparently the buyer who purchased the stone many months earlier no longer needed or wanted the stone. The shipping container held the exact amount of stone we needed to within 10 square feet of what the design called for. I gratefully purchased the stone. Now I needed a place to send the stone to be cut and fabricated.I placed several calls to find a stone fabricator, who would take the stone and cut it to the sizes specified by the designers. Every fabricator I called said their production lines were scheduled out for months and couldn’t be interrupted. Days later I was notified by a fabricator that he had a window suddenly become open and could cut the stone. I immediately called the individual who found the container of stone in Los Angeles and gave him an address to ship the stone. I then called the firm producing the shop drawings and fabrication tickets and requested that the drawings and tickets immediately be sent to the stone fabricator. The stone fabrication would take 3 – 5 weeks, meaning stone installation would commence a week or two before the Open House and continue until the time of the temple dedication.Meanwhile, the work to complete the interior of the temple continued. The superintendent watched in disbelief as things miraculously came together with the façade.The final step in this process was to install the stone on the façade. I called several installers and none had the time or willingness to come to New York and install stone on such short notice. Once again the Lord intervened. Several days later I received a call from an out-of-state installer that said a project had fallen through and he now had a crew available to install stone if I still needed them. I called my superintendent and we arranged for the crew to come to New York when the first shipment of stone arrived, which was about the end of April.

As the crew mobilized to begin work, we were again interrupted. Unions are very prominent in New York. The Union began to form picket lines at the temple site because our workers were not from New York. The designated completion date for the project was rapidly approaching, but once again the work was halted while we worked on toward an equitable solution. Through creative negotiating, we were able to resolve the union issue amicably and resume work. It was now the beginning of May and time for the Open House to begin. In spite of the numerous delays we had encountered, the work on the façade of the temple had steadily progressed, and of necessity, continued through the Open House. Even with this disruption, visitors could feel the sacredness of the temple. There were moments when I worried that the temple wouldn’t be completed in time for the dedication, but we continued to press forward. After many long days and long hours, the work was finally completed at the last possible moment. The last planter was placed in the temple entry within 30 minutes of President Hinckley’s arrival to tour the temple just prior to the dedication on June 13, 2004. After the dedication of the Manhattan New York temple, the project superintendent approached me to say it was an absolute miracle we had finished the temple in time. I knew what he didn’t. It was entirely through the Lord’s hand that the temple was finished in time for the dedication. Faith requires that we do all we can to bring about the things we hope and pray for.

President Kimball said: “In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming. Men have often misunderstood and have reversed the process. They would have the harvest before the planting, the reward before the service, the miracle before the faith…” [10]“President Kimball continued by explaining that many of us want to have health and strength without keeping the health laws. We want to have prosperity without paying our tithes. We want to be close to the Lord but don’t want to fast and pray. We want to have rain in due season and to have peace in the land without observing the Sabbath as a holy day and without keeping the other commandments of the Lord.” [11]I no longer directly manage the construction of temples as I did years ago, so my experiences have changed. Yet as the Director of International Construction for Temples and Special Projects, I still have the privilege of seeing the arm of the Lord being revealed as he directs his work through his faithful and humble servants. I marvel at how the Lord guides Church counsels through his Spirit to unitedly press forward and I still follow those 4 basic principles I mentioned previously as I engage in this exciting and inspired work. I began my employment with the Church in 1996 as a Project Manager for the St. Louis Missouri Temple, which became temple number 50 in 1997. In the last 19 years since then, 100 additional temples have been completed for a total of 150 dedicated and operating temples, with another 27 temples in various stages of design and construction.

In February of this year I had the privilege of attending the Suva Fiji Temple dedication and again witnessed the Lord’s hand. We landed in Suva on Wednesday before the dedication. The island was sunny, warm and beautiful. Yet at that time, Category 4 Cyclone Winston was causing widespread devastation as it thrashed some of the islands of the South Pacific. On Thursday, we were notified that Cyclone Winston had changed directions and was headed directly toward the islands of Fiji. I remember thinking to myself, “This could be devastating.” While serving my mission in Papeete, Tahiti in 1983, Cyclone Vaena hit the French Polynesian islands causing power outages, flooding, widespread destruction, and displacing thousands of people. I was a young missionary living in an abandoned school building by the temple construction site. For a few weeks, our purpose as missionaries was to assist with the cleanup and recovery efforts. On Friday, Cyclone Winston became a Category 5 storm with wind speeds up to 175 mph. It was projected that the cyclone was headed directly to Suva and Nadi. The last large storm to hit the islands was 30 years ago. When President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency and the other General Authorities arrived in Suva to dedicate the temple, I felt much calmer. I trusted that the Lord would protect his faithful and humble servants. On Saturday, we prepared for the storm. The winds were increasing and warnings were sent to all the island inhabitants. We purchased food and water before attending the Cultural Celebration. The celebration was wonderful. The youth were extraordinary. They performed magnificently while the storm raged outside the auditorium. When it became apparent conditions were getting much worse outside, Church leadership ended the program early to ensure that the youth and their families could find safe shelter. Those of us in the Special Projects Department who had flown to Suva, Fiji for the dedication made our way back to the hotel, where we ate dinner and settled in for the night.

I watched the wind and rain increase dramatically while the storm surge wreaked havoc with the coast line. I felt a little concerned when the attending General Authorities left the hotel to take refuge at the temple. Our hotel briefly lost power, but generators supplied enough power to allow me to watch NetFlix before going to bed. I don’t remember what I watched, but I clearly remember the peace I felt as the storm raged and at the dedication the following day. On Sunday, February 21, 2016, the day of the dedication, we passed downed power lines, trees and debris everywhere on our way to the temple. To our surprise, the temple grounds looked neat and unscathed. President Eyring presided over the temple dedication as planned, although many people were unable to attend due to the widespread devastation and suspension of transportation. Miraculously, the cyclone had abruptly changed its path and veered away. Suva was spared a direct hit. The Lord had intervened and allowed His holy house to be dedicated as scheduled, again allowing the temple to bless the lives of the members in that region. All of these experiences reveal the arm of the Lord in this sacred work. I know that miracles are wrought by faith when we do all within our power to keep this great work progressing. The construction phase of the temple is a relatively short and minor period of time when compared with the decades/centuries that a temple will be in operation fulfilling its divine purpose. The Lord guides all aspects of the work pertaining to His holy houses so that all of His children may have the opportunity to receive His promised blessings by making covenants and participating in the sacred saving ordinances that can only be performed in the temple, the House of the Lord. At this phase of your life, you may be facing daunting challenges. The road ahead may seem impossible and never ending, but the Lord has promised, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” [12] It does not matter what your circumstances, the way forward is the same. Follow the example of the brother of Jared: go to the Lord for help and guidance, then get on your feet and get to work. We are here to learn by exercising our agency through life’s challenges as we rely upon the Lord. I testify that this is the Lord’s work. He loves each one of us and will help us succeed when we humbly seek and follow his counsel. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1]D&C 11:12

[2]D&C 58:26

[3]D&C 123:17

[4]D&C 123:17

[5]D&C 128:21

[6]Ether 2:19 – 20

[7]Ether 2:22-23

[8]Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 243-244

[9]Standing for Something [2000], 109

[10]Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006, 2011], 142

[11]Gospel Principles, [1978, 2009, 2011], Chapter 18: Faith in Jesus Christ

[12]John 14:18