LEHI, Utah — In September 2016, Rhett and Jolene Ogden got up early one morning and flew to Indianapolis, Indiana.
Upon arrival, the Ogdens drove to a shopping mall parking lot and slept in their rental car while it rained. When the Indianapolis Indiana LDS Temple opened, the couple participated in one endowment session. A few hours later, they picked up lunch at a Panda Express and returned to the airport where they boarded a flight for Utah, arriving home less than 24 hours after they departed.
Not every trip to the temple was like that, the Ogdens agreed, but it was memorable just the same — just like the other 74 temple trips.
From January 2012 to March 2018 — a streak of more than six years — the middle-aged couple with four children has pursued the goal of attending a different LDS temple each month. Traveling from New Zealand to Switzerland, they never missed a month until a recent decision that it was finally time to end the streak. The run ended at the newly dedicated Cedar City Utah Temple.
To see a map showing all 75 temples, click here.
"My son said you guys should go for 100, but that would stretch this another two years and there are only 15 or 16 temples left in the United States and a whole year of out-of-country temples," Jolene Ogden said.
Through the first decade of their marriage, attending the temple wasn't a high priority for the Ogdens. They estimate they went maybe twice in eight years, "having every excuse in the book," Rhett Ogden said.
They resolved to improve their temple attendance starting in January 2012. That month they went to the Draper Utah Temple. In February, they attended the Jordan River Utah Temple.
"There wasn't anything specific that motivated us, just guilt and every Sunday School lesson you've ever heard about going to the temple," Rhett Ogden said.
"We just knew we needed to do it," Jolene Ogden said. "We lived near family, we had babysitters and so many temples available to us. There really wasn't an excuse for us not to go and make it a priority."
In March 2012, the Ogden family was in St. George and attended the temple for the third month in a row. Afterwards, as the couple walked to their car, they both felt inspired with the same idea at the same time — to continue doing one endowment session at a new temple each month for the rest of the year.
"It was something new and different. We have so many temples available in Utah and both love to travel," Jolene Ogden said. "Along with the need and desire to go to the temple, it was just that thing that motivated us to get there each month. ... At the end of the year, we decided let's keep it going."
They had two strict rules: Only one temple per month, and it had to be an endowment session.
Financially, the Ogdens have lived on a frugal family budget in order save money for trips to the temple. They watched for bottom-of-the-barrel bargain deals and used coupons, often flying on airlines where purchasing a ticket was cheaper than paying to check a bag, said Rhett Ogden, an employee of Draper City.
Planning was also critical. While navigating their children's youth sports and other activities, they used his vacation days, weekends and holidays to plan trips to places where they could attend more than one temple and at end and beginning of a new month. Sometimes the kids went with them, sometimes they stayed behind with family and friends.
"We don't consider ourselves rich at all," Rhett Ogden said. "I really feel like the Lord has blessed us that way."
"It can be done," Jolene said. "I dare say we are an extremely busy family. ... The children have had to sacrifice along with us."
Of the 75 temple trips, only a few didn't include work for deceased family members. Jolene's father, Graham Shaw, was the only member of his family to convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he has a passion for family history work. He has supplied the Ogdens with scores of family names. As the children reached age 12, they accompanied their parents and performed baptisms. Working with her father in this way has enriched family relationships and created memories, Jolene Ogden said.
During their temple streak, the Ogdens went to 14 temples outside the U.S. and 61 inside the U.S., including 16 temples in Utah. It was difficult for the Ogdens to narrow down the list of memorable experiences, but a few trips stood out.
For Rhett Ogden, his most meaningful temple experience came seven months into the streak when he and his wife attended the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, "practically right down the street," on a July afternoon, he said.
At that point of his life, Rhett Ogden was facing some serious challenges at work and felt like he hadn't slept in two weeks. He worried that he might be fired and it was one of the hardest times of his life. Yet the stress and anxiety dissolved for the two hours he was in the temple.
"For whatever reason, the (depressing) feeling was gone. It was so peaceful. I didn't experience that feeling as much in the other 74 temples as I did that one month," Rhett Ogden said. "That strengthened my faith that even though I may not understand everything in the temple, and it was a challenge to go, it's something God wants us to experience. It was a faith-promoting experience early on that helped stretch this thing out for six and a half years."
The streak almost ended at 33 in September 2014 at the Manhattan New York Temple. Rhett Ogden found himself pleading with the temple president to let them into a full session, even sharing their personal goals. The temple president stepped away for a moment and returned with good news that they found room for two more folding chairs, Rhett Ogden said.
On another occasion in January 2013, the Ogdens had plans to go to the Kona Hawaii Temple, but were tempted to stay at the beach, or at least participate in a less time-consuming ordinance, so they could stay longer at the beach. It was hard to pull away, but they maintained their goal.
When visiting temples in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, the Netherlands and Switzerland, there were humorous moments when the language barrier presented some challenges. Jolene Ogden can't suppress a laugh when she remembers how her husband attempted to speak Danish. All he could do was shrug his shoulders and smile.
"I didn't know what was happening," Rhett Ogden said. "You mumble through it."
In El Salvador, the matron introduced herself to the Utah couple and wanted to know more about why they had come. When the Ogdens explained what they were doing, the matron ushered them into the temple president's office to tell their story. It wouldn't be the last time they shared their temple adventure.
Other unforgettable temple trips included Newport Beach, California; Tijuana, Mexico; Papeete, Tahiti; Billings, Montana; and St. Louis, Missouri, the Ogdens said.
"In St. Louis, we toured the Budweiser beer factory but didn't get the free sample, then went to the temple, and then to a Cardinals' baseball game," Rhett Ogden said with a laugh.
"It was quite a contrast," Jolene Ogden said.
Although the streak of going to new temples each month is over, the Ogdens plan to continue going each month. They reserve the right to start a new streak again someday, perhaps after retirement. For now, they are grateful for the deeper gospel knowledge and personal revelation they've received in the temple.
While consistent temple attendance doesn't completely eliminate every problem in a marriage, such as little squabbles about getting to the temple on time, Rhett Ogden joked, the Ogdens can feel a deeper spiritual connection in their marriage.
"We still have our ups and downs. We've always gone to church together but the temple is what has really connected us spiritually," Jolene Ogden said. "As long as you keep the temple the center of your marriage you can get through any problems that you face."
Perhaps most important to the Ogdens, they appreciate what their children have observed from their temple-going example. Their son Brayden, soon to be 16 years old, knows the temple is a special place.13 comments on this story
"Me and my siblings have learned about the importance of the temple and all the sacred ordinances that take place, and why we should put forth effort and time to go to the temple and the blessings that will follow," Brayden Ogden said. "We have come to love the temple. ... It is such a quiet and peaceful place. You can really feel the Spirit and tell that it is the House of the Lord."
Correction: A previous version of the map link incorrectly identified five temples the Ogdens did not visit, including Meridian Idaho, Winnipeg Manitoba, Memphis Tennessee, Oklahoma City Oklahoma and Saratoga Springs, Utah. This was the result of carryover from a previous map of existing temples and temples in progress.