Matrons, pioneers and special memories: Members share experiences, admire renovated Ogden Utah Temple

Published: Thursday, Sept. 4 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The First Presidency asked the Halversens to formulate a plan for calling and training more than 1,000 workers, creating a schedule and making the whole operation run smoothly. Using a poster and colored pencils, Halversen created a schedule for 300 women under her supervision.

“They left it in our hands. We had to figure out how to make it work,” Halversen said. “Making it run smoothly was the challenge, but people were dedicated and it was a beautiful, beautiful experience.”

After its dedication in January 1972, the temple was closed for six weeks so the Halversens could train the new workers. The doors opened in March. Each day, from early morning until evening, the work went forth, Halversen said.

“My husband would call me up to the office around 8 p.m. and ask, ‘Shall we go?’” she said. “I would always say, ‘Give me another half-hour.’ We never got tired. We were so busy.”

They were so busy they barely had time to see their family, said David Halversen, Luana's son.

“About the only time we could see them was a small window on Monday. We would come with children to the temple and they would come out and see us,” said David Halversen, who later served as president of the Orlando Florida Temple.

Besides organizing, training and making daily adjustments, it’s the matron’s duty to see that a loving spirit resides throughout the temple. That wasn’t difficult thanks to those who came to the temple from all over the world, Halversen said.

Once after a little girl was sealed to her family, she asked Halversen an important question: “Now can I get to see Jesus?”

After another little girl was sealed to her family, she walked to the sealer and held her arms up to him for a hug.

Halversen loved taking care of the brides who came to the temple. She remembers helping one young woman who was blind, and she went the extra mile to make her experience memorable. The young woman showed her gratitude by giving Halversen’s hand a gentle squeeze.

Halversen has a book of letters from patrons thanking her for her friendship and service in the Ogden Temple.

“There were so many beautiful memories. The families would come and the children would feel the Spirit,” Halversen said. “That was the most special thing.”

Halversen's family said a unique set of experiences prepared the couple for their calling. In the 1940s, near the end of World War II, the Halversens were called to preside over the New Zealand Mission. The couple had three young children and Halversen was pregnant with the fourth. They sold their home and traveled by ship to New Zealand, where they started with zero missionaries and re-established the church in the country. A. Reed Halversen also helped to locate a site for the temple in Hamilton. All these things set a tone for the future, as well as an example for the family, said grandson David Hansen.

“Grandma and Grandpa have given us an anchor. No matter what was asked of them, they chose the Lord,” Hansen said. “They have set a standard, and we have been lifted because of what they have done.”

A. Reed Halversen died in 1984. Following his death, Luana Halversen served a mission in the Washington D.C. Temple and returned to serve in the Ogden Temple for several more years. She has lived by the advice she gave her son when he was called to be the Orlando Temple president: “When you are called and set apart, the mantle is on your shoulders and the Lord will see you through,” she said.

Ancestral connection

Prior to media tours of the new temple, Elder Richards spoke of a special personal connection to Ogden through his second great-grandfather, Elder Franklin D. Richards, who was appointed to be the presiding apostle there by Brigham Young in the late 1800s.

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