I received my mission call in January to the Cape Verde Praia Mission! I’m really excited about my mission, but I was just as excited to be able to go through the temple and receive my endowment. Probably because you had no idea what to expect for either the temple or your mission.
Both my bishop and my stake president reminded me that the temple is not merely a stepping-stone to the mission. Did you need that reminder? I can't imagine why you would. The covenants I make in the temple are literally vital for my salvation; a mission is not. I'm not sure temple covenants are vital. New Testament writers never brought them up and neither did the Jaredites, Mulekites or Lehites. Only Joseph Smith brings them up and only then after he became a Freemason.
I prepared to go to the temple by focusing on my baptismal covenants, reading the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple,reading my scriptures daily, and praying a lot. Baptismal covenants cover everything, so that's good. The only thing the temple adds are promises of secrecy. The temple prep booklet is worthless. It didn't tell you a damned thing that you didn't already know and neither did what you read in the scriptures or felt when you prayed. To truly prepare for what you'll do, you should have Googled the endowment ceremony or watched it on YouTube. Or both. Then you'd know what you were getting into. I felt like I was about as prepared as I could have been, without actually knowing specifically what was going to happen. That's totally how I felt too! Man, was I wrong.
I feel like I’ve been preparing for my endowment my whole life. You have been. Remember all those Primary songs and that eternal marriage talk? I wasn’t really nervous about it, even though I still didn’t know what to expect. Yes! We have so much in common! I had my parents, other family members, and temple workers escorting me the whole time, so I was never alone. Never alone, yet barely informed of anything.
Before I went to the temple, I got the same advice from a lot of people: Don’t worry about trying to learn or remember it all the first time, don’t stress about the symbolism, and don’t worry if you don’t understand everything; just focus on feeling the Spirit. That what I was told too. Unfortunately I just felt uncomfortable. That’s just what I did, and my first time in the temple was a very good experience. The Spirit was so strong. I guess this is where you and I differ. I felt confused and wondered why no one had properly informed me of what this experience would be like. So who's feelings are most valid, yours or mine?
The things that happen in the temple are different from the way we worship outside the temple. Because they're stolen from the Freemasons and have absolutely nothing to do with Christian worship. But the Spirit is the same, and that’s the most important thing. It didn't feel the same to me! I felt like I was in an entirely different church. When we’re worthy and prepared to be there, we can truly feel God’s presence in His house. Polly want a cracker? I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to receive my endowment and make those important covenants. Your baptismal covenant already covered that shit, yo! I look forward to going back again and again. Totally! Until you get bored out of your mind.