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Family builds Mormon temples out of Legos

Published: Tuesday, April 23 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

Shawn, Cara and Ryan Wilkey holding their LEGO model of the Draper, Utah temple in front of the real temple.

Jen Wilkey

What began as a Sunday night family activity turned into an inspirational blog with more than 6,800 views.

Last October, the home of Nate and Jen Wilkey filled with argumentative voices over how to entertain themselves during their Sabbath Day observance.

It wasn't easy to find one activity to entertain all three of their children, but the parents suggested building the Laie Hawaii Temple out of Legos and sending a picture to a relative serving in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission.

The project was a success, and after seeing his kids’ enjoyment, Nate Wilkey purchased a bucket of white Legos for each of his children for Christmas.

After building a few more temples, the Wilkey kids suggested starting a blog to post pictures of the temples they built each week.

Each family member began brainstorming names for their blog, and it was during a youth fireside that Shawn Wilkey came up with “Build Ye in Holy Places,” a tribute to this year’s youth theme.

With a goal to build every LDS temple, the Wilkeys build one nearly every Sunday.

Each week, a different member of the family decides which temple they will build and how they will go about constructing it.

They start with printing off a picture of the temple they are constructing and then begin the foundation.

Shawn, 13, is the most experienced at building with Legos, but even 8-year-old Ryan makes an important contribution when he builds the steeple for each temple.

Cara, 10, adds landscaping to the temples in addition to a bride and groom who pose for “wedding pictures.”

According to Jen Wilkey, this project has become a testimony builder for her family.

“We want to help them learn to love the temple and also to create a good atmosphere of strengthening and enjoying each other,” Wilkey said.

The Wilkey family has witnessed the benefits of social media as their blog has spread to a wider audience.

“We’ve been surprised how some people we don’t know have found our blog,” Wilkey said. “We even had a person who lived in the neighboring ward when we lived in Ohio comment on it.”

Build Ye in Holy Places has reached a worldwide audience, inspiring people in Russia, Singapore and Brazil in addition to other countries. It has also been shared on Facebook and Pinterest.

The Wilkeys also encourage others to build Lego temples and submit them for guest posts on their blog. On April 15, they got their first email submission from a stranger.

Megan Marsden is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a junior at BYU-Idaho studying communication. The views of the writer do not reflect the views of BYU-Idaho.

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