When President Gordon B. Hinckley announced a little over four years ago that a temple would be built in the Preston, Lancashire, area of Great Britain, an idea formulated in my mind. I am originally from Preston, and I wanted to be there when the temple was completed and invite my cousins and friends to go to the open house.
On May 18, 1998, this idea materialized. I had written invitations to cousins and friends who lived in England, and 20 of them met me at the front door of the Preston Temple. At least six more attended the open house at a later date.It was a beautiful day. The temperature was between 70-75 degrees with a slight breeze coming over the West Pennine hills. The very fact that I was actually mingling with my father's side of the family and my mother's side of the family - all at the same time - was something that had not happened before. I was overwhelmed with the spirit of the occasion.
These people, not being LDS, had many questions regarding the Church. This temple occasion literally opened up avenues of inquiry from people in all places. During the three weeks in Preston for this event, wherever we went, people asked questions about the Church. We were invited to people's homes, or we might be in the bus station or a green grocers shop in a little village. People knew about the temple and were anxious to attend the open house and know more.
What a contrast this was to the situation when our family joined the Church prior to the Second World War. At that time, it was not easy to openly talk about the Church. But, now, here I was talking to relatives and friends openly in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the front door of the temple.
When I met with my family on the "court yard" of the temple my emotions were difficult to control.
I do not yet know the outcome of this effort, but I do know that we all felt the spirit of that day. My cousins and friends had felt the LDS Church to be an insignificant organization, but they do not feel that way now.i