If you're looking for the login form, it has been moved to the site header to make it more visible and easily accessible.
President and Matron, Salt Lake City Temple
September 26, 2007
(The Walkers stood at the podium and delivered their addresses together).
I said, “I would.” (I thought it was kind of rude.)
And he said, “Well, about ten minutes before you called her, I had gone out to her desk and told her to call you and make an appointment for you to come in. I had seen you in conference the day before and had the prompting that we needed to talk.” Then he said to me, “I know all of the questions that you’ve been asking. ‘Why me? Am I being punished? Have I not served well?’ I asked them all myself.” And he said, “The time’s over to ask those. You’re not going to know the answers in this life.” He said, “Go back home and get on your knees and pray for peace, and I promise you that when it comes, it will come in such a powerful way that you will have no questions. You have much left to do in life, and you need to move forward.”
And I did. It didn’t happen overnight, but when it came, I’ll tell you, I felt like I had been enveloped in the arms of the Savior. I felt this wonderful, warm feeling that overwhelmed me. I knew beyond question that, had I not had my foundation in place, that experience would have taken me down totally. It would have destroyed me, because of the feelings I was thinking in my mind. But when that peace came, I can tell you my testimony never wavered at that time, but it could have if I had stayed in the spot where I was. And when I received that sweet witness of the Spirit, I knew I had to go forward.
And then came the really hard part. Because, in the meantime, I got it figured out. I was happy; I had adjusted to being alone. It was kind of nice. It was the first time in my life I’d ever had my own bedroom. You know, I thought that was kind of a plus. I could go to the grocery store and I could buy a can of sauerkraut and eat it all by myself if I wanted. You know, there was some freedom that came with just being alone. And I was adjusting. I had great children and wonderful friends, and was doing interesting things, and I just thought I’d arrived. I thought, “I can do this. I can do this. This must be what the Lord has in mind for me.”
And then his [President Walker’s] daughter approached me. I remember when she sat in my family room and said to me, “Would you go out with my father?” I remember distinctly thinking, “Don’t show it on your face. Just smile and be lovely.” And I did say to her, “You know, I’m really not interested.” From my point of view it was like, “Please don’t complicate my life in this way. I’m settled and I’m okay, and I’m not a desperate woman.”
But there was always in the back of my mind, through all of this time, this little nagging that said to me, “Don’t stand in the way of the Lord and His plan for you.” And that just kept coming to me. You know, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go out with him. I did do a big background check on him. You know, I wasn’t going to waste an evening. Of course, it was a free dinner, but… (Audience laughter).
I think the important thing that I learned through that was: Let the Lord work in your life. And we put so many obstacles up—my own fear, my own reluctance to sort of step out of my comfort zone, my knowing what was best for me instead of letting the Lord do what was best for me. And so, with that thought ever present in my mind, I am now here. I just think, had I not listened to the Spirit, and allowed the Lord to work in my life, think what I would have missed.
I think through all of our dark days, I think the Lord was probably just smiling and saying, “Just hang in there, because I’ve got something really terrific in mind for you.” I think He feels that way about you. Just hang in there, because He’s got some terrific things in mind for you. So just hang on, and build your foundation and stay faithful and be open to the Spirit.
Now, my comment about what you just said. You think dating is hard for you sometimes. Think about me, at my age. Put yourself in my shoes. I can tell you, it was terrible. You know, after I finally decided I had to move forward, every one of my friends had the perfect wife for me. They would call me, ask me to go out. I’d go out on a date, and I’d come back and think, “No way.” And, you know, they all thought they had the perfect wife. And the reality is, not until my daughter came along did the perfect woman come along. But you know, even Michelle, who is my daughter, when she called me to ask me to go out with Kathy, I had no idea who she was. She told me her name was Kathy Barnes—this is my daughter telling me. I said, “I hate blind dates, and you know it. I’m tired of them. I don’t want to go on one.”
And she said, “Oh, Dad. Please, please. Just one time.” And she saw me, I guess, wavering, and she said, “I want you to know, I’ve even prayed about her, Dad.”
Well, if you knew Michelle, you’d know that’s the weak spot for her dad, and so I said, “All right. I tell you what. You call her; see if she’ll go out with me, and if she will, I’ll call her.”
So she called me back, and said, “Yeah, Dad, she says to call her.” She didn’t tell me what she’d really said. So I called her and she finally agreed to go out on a date, on the condition that we could go somewhere where we wouldn’t be seen. (Audience laughter).
I had never seen him; I didn’t know what I was in for. (Audience laughter).
This is true.
I didn’t want to be totally humiliated. (Audience laughter).
Well, the worst part for me was, once we agreed to go out, I called Michelle and I said, “All right, Michelle, we are going on a date.”
And she said, “By the way, Dad, did I tell you that she’s President Hinckley’s daughter?”
And I said, “Oh, come on. Are you serious?” I think she knew that if she had told me that, I probably wouldn’t have called. Nevertheless, the sweet thing about it is that when we got past the initial trauma of our struggling, we knew without question we would be married. I can only tell you what a sweet thing this has been. We never in our lives dreamed that we would be where we are today. But we have had such confirmation of the fact that when we put our lives in the Lord’s hands, and we commit our lives to follow Him, to keep His commandments under all circumstances, that He will open doors, and He will lead the way for us to find happiness and peace in our lives.
Now I recently heard a young woman in the temple make this statement. She said she was trying to do what the Lord wanted her to do, not just what she wanted to do. Very significant. I would suggest that to each of you here today. As you know, we serve as the president and matron of the Salt Lake Temple. It’s an overwhelming experience to be in that temple day after day. But as you know, it takes more than just being a member of the Church to get into the temple. It requires worthiness. It requires keeping the commandments.
I would suggest that you are making the choices every day of your lives that will decide whether you end up there, and whether you end up fulfilling the plan the Lord has for you. But the significant thing is it’s not just the big things. It’s not just tithing and Word of Wisdom and morality. Those are important. But it’s the little things you do, the little things that cause us course corrections—how we speak, the language we use, the text messaging we do, what we do on the computer when we’re alone by ourselves, the clothes you wear, how you speak to one another, the music you listen to, where you go for entertainment. Every one of these things determines the pathway and determines the foundation that you will have. I just plead with you, that you build that strong foundation now, so that when those tests come there will be no question where you go.
I think that one of our favorite assignments in the temple is to give instructions to those who are coming for the first time. President Walker gives it to the men, and I give it to the women. It’s just so fun to meet with these…most of them are young. Some of them are coming later years in their lives, but most of them are young. They’re prepared, they’re excited, they’re filled with the Spirit, and they’ve been looking forward to this day all their lives. They come into the temple, sometimes a little nervous, sometimes a little anxious. They don’t really know quite what to expect. The other day I gave instructions to a young woman. When I walked in the room, I just said to her, “Well, how are you today?”
And she said, “Oh, I am so nervous.”
And I said, “Tell me why you’re nervous.”
She paused, and then she said, “Because think about it. I am in Heavenly Father’s house.” And the tears just began to flow down her cheeks. She said, “I am a convert to the Church, and from the day I joined this church, I have lived for this moment. Now I’m finally here, and I’m so overwhelmed I can hardly absorb it.”
I think of another young woman who was there to receive her endowment because she was going to be married. She had no mother with her that day, but she had a soon-to-be mother-in-law who was from Peru. She looked very sad to me, which was unusual because usually they look bright and excited. I was so concerned about her that I asked one of the workers to have her come and see me before she left the temple that day.
So at the end of the session they brought her in, and she was so nervous. It was like she was going to the principal’s office. But I just said to her, “Tell me about your mother.”
And she said, “Why do you ask?”
I said, “Well, she wasn’t with you today, and I just wondered.”
And then she began to cry. She said that she had joined the Church in Mexico, her entire family—her mother, father and three brothers. She said one by one they’ve all made choices that have led them away from the temple. “I came to BYU and met this young man from Peru. Now we’ll be married on Friday, and I won’t have anybody here from my family.”
And I said, “Why are you doing this? Why aren’t you going home to Mexico and being married where you’ll have your family?”
And she said, “Because it is more important for me to receive the blessings of the Lord that I can only receive in His house.” She made a very courageous and very difficult choice. But without question, I know that the Lord will bless that young woman, and bless her family.
She, like so many of you, is so strong and valiant in the gospel. I look at you today, and you’re in school, you’re building a future, you’re preparing for whatever life brings to you. But don’t ever neglect building that spiritual foundation, because that’s the foundation that will carry you when the storms rage and the winds blow, and things come into your life that you don’t anticipate, nor that you have no control over. The Lord loves you and He has a plan for you. I have no question in my mind. All you have to do is keep His commandments and open your heart and let Him go to work. He will do magnificent things for you and with you. May the Lord bless you, you wonderful, young, valiant members of the Church, that you will be strengthened and blessed as you make choices in your life, that your foundations will be sure and strong, and that you’ll feel the Lord’s love and care continually in your lives, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I would just close and remind you, as we think about the temple and what it means in our lives—recently, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a young couple come to the temple. One of the workers noted that they lingered well beyond the endowment session up in the celestial room of the temple. With clasped hands, they held tightly to each other, and there were intermittent moments of tears and a look of longing for each other. As they were leaving, a sister worker thanked them for coming and commented about the sweet love that she felt that existed between them. The young man turned to her and said, “At eight o’clock in the morning on Monday, I’m being deployed to Iraq. And we are here tonight to seek the Lord’s blessing and peace to carry us through this.”
I testify to you that, in all of the places in the world that we can go, the temple is the only place on earth that you are guaranteed the Spirit of the Lord will always be there. Our homes are wonderful. Sometimes we let the world come in, in our apartments or our homes, and we affect the Spirit. In the temple, the Spirit is always there.
I pray with all my heart that, whoever you are, whatever your circumstances are, gain a temple recommend. If you’re not at the age yet—and all of you are close, or there—get a limited use recommend, and come to the temple and feast upon the Spirit. Let the Lord teach you. I promise if you will do that, He will define in your heart and your mind the pathway to follow in your lives to find a fulness of life and return to His presence.
I bear you my solemn testimony I know beyond question that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I testify to you that that beautiful temple to the east of us is the House of the Lord. I testify that He teaches in that temple even this day to those who come with hearts prepared to be taught of the Spirit. I pray that it may be a blessing and a foundation and a sure anchor in each of your lives, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Introduction of the Walkers by Marki Baxter
President M. Richard Walker is president of the Salt Lake Temple. President Walker has served as president of the Indianapolis Indiana Mission, stake president and counselor, high councilor, bishop, elder’s quorum president and gospel doctrine teacher. He is a former member of the Tabernacle Choir, a retired attorney, and served 24 years in the National Guard. He was born in Salt Lake City to Milton Wilson and Emma Summerhays Wilson.
Sister Kathleen Hinckley Walker is serving as temple matron. Sister Walker has served as stake and ward Young Women president, ward Relief Society president and teacher, ward Primary president. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Gordon Bitner and Marjorie Pay Hinckley.
I’m sure that Brother and Sister Walker are wondering why I am introducing them. What they may not know is that I am from the same stake that Sister Walker was from, and I am in the same ward as President Walker’s daughter, and I have a little bit of background. I was speaking with President Walker’s daughter this morning, getting straight the story in my mind about how they met. Sister Walker had just been made the stake Young Women's president in our stake. President Walker’s daughter had recently been made the ward Young Women’s president in our ward. And Sister Schmidt had attended the first stake Young Women’s meeting with Sister Walker, who was then Sister Barnes, and had the feeling that she needed to call Sister Barnes, as she was then, and talk to her in the morning.
So the next morning she called her and said, “Can I come talk to you for just a minute?” And she said, “Sure.” [Sister Schmidt] said, “I’m sure that she thought I was coming over to talk about Young Women.” She said, “I started talking about my mother and about how hard it was when my mother died. I’m sure she could not figure out why I was there.” And then she started talking about the passing of Sister Barnes’ husband, which was very sudden also.
She finally asked her if she would go out with her dad. So she said, “I’m not sure if you’ve even started dating yet.” And she said, “No, but well, I guess that would be okay.” So then Sister Barnes had him checked out, and she went out on a blind date with President Walker. And that was their first date.
They have been married three and a half years. As I was talking with President Walker’s daughter, she was telling me of another story that has happened recently in their family of a blessing from the temple. And I was speaking with Michelle, I could just feel the Spirit, and I’ve heard this story a couple of times—once from her husband, and once from Michelle’s point of view—and I can feel the blessing that the temple has brought into their lives, and I hope that you too can feel, as the Walkers speak to you, the blessings that do come from going to the temple, and the many blessings that we can receive from being there. I’d like to turn the time over to them.