YOU WANT A wake-up call? Visit the LDS temple on a night when Saints from other cultures are there. You'll see the world through a new set of lenses.

I, for one, don't do that enough.

The temple, of course, is about purity and light. But other cultures often add other ingredients — they add a dash of heat, for instance. Something about a dark complexion sets a white shirt ablaze. The clothes burn with starlight, or moonlight, or maybe it's the sun's white halo. They're like ignited candles. And like kindling in a campfire, the languages get to sputtering and crackling. The people have to remind each other to tone it down.

In short, if many of us are "chilly" Mormons, they're "chili" Mormons. And their passion for the temple warms the bones.

Years ago, the editor of the LDS Church News sent a note to LDS temple presidents asking them to mail in some personal experiences. President Agricol Lozano of the Mexico City temple — a small man with great poetic gifts — submitted a soaring piece of verse about performing a marriage, how even the kiss between the newlyweds could never quench the spiritual flame.

The Church News editor didn't know quite what to do with the thing. The poem's passion was out of character with everything else that came in. The little poem stood out like a gold tooth in an ivory smile. President Lozano's submission burned like a torch.

I guess when you're descended from Aztec royalty, religion sizzles a little more inside of you.

I know my friend Francisco gets fired up about such things. He's a dreamer from El Salvador — not as in "one day your dreams will come true" but nighttime dreams. And like Joseph of old, he's amazingly adept at finding meaning in those dreams.

Not long ago he told me of a dream where he could see a building on a distant island in the sea. Something inside of him told him to go there, so he jumped in and began swimming. Suddenly, a series of enormous breakers crashed over him. But the breakers were filled with fruit — oranges, pineapples, lemons. On he swam.

He said he realized later the fruit was there to nourish him, to give him strength to fight through the challenges and get to the alabaster building in the sea. That building, he said, was the temple. And the fruit was spiritual "food" — bread for his journey.

Needless to say, Francisco is one of those people I mentioned who sounds a "wake-up call."

Seeing the LDS Church through the eyes of other cultures — Tongan, African, Uruguayan, Brazilian — can double our appreciation. Even the simple word "endowment" resonates in new ways in other languages.

In Spanish the word is "investidura." And buried in that word you can see the word "invest," as in "invest in the future." "Vest" and "vestments" are in there, too — as in items of special clothing. And "dura?" I see "durable" there — something strong, resilient and lasting.

In the end — in my book — the nice thing is we don't need to travel to distant lands to gain a new perspective on the gospel and the world.

The people there have been kind enough to bring those things to us.

All we have to do is show up.


Jerry Johnston is a Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in the Mormon Times section.


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