By Anne Maxson
Early this summer, our family visited Washington, DC. During the trip, we made it a point to visit the Washington DC Temple and visitor center.
I was grateful for the opportunity for some “temple quiet” in the middle of a busy trip. Our younger son was too young to attend. I went to the temple while my husband and our kids went to the visitor center.
I loved the opportunity to interact with the temple workers there. While I was in the temple, I was grateful for the opportunity to explore a bit and look at the artwork throughout the temple. When I served my mission in Virginia, Washington DC was the temple district that covered my mission. As I walked through the temple, I couldn’t help but think about how it was such a special place for people that were so special to me. I thought of the people that I had taught who later attended this temple for their own ordinances. I felt joy and gratitude as I walked near the sealing rooms and recognized the importance of those ordinances.
After I was done, I met them and we swapped. My husband and older son went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. I was still thinking about my mission as my younger son and I wandered through the visitor center. I was excited to watch some of the videos about the missionaries that had been featured in the TV show “The District.” Our family loved watching those shows so it was a lot of fun to see a little bit about what was going on in their lives after the series ended.
In the visitor center, they have a wall of missionary tags. There were some tags with unique names that matched some of the missionaries that I served with. However, it was a more common name tag that I started to look for on the wall of tags. The missionary's name was “Elder Young.” Elder Morgan Young served with me in Virginia. I did not know him well but we had flown from Utah to Virginia in the same group of missionaries. We always enjoyed the chance to reconnect when we would see each other at meetings.
I had been home from my mission for just a couple of months when Elder Young was shot and killed. Our mission leaders always honored Elder Young when we would gather for mission reunions and I was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the impact his service, and his death, had on me. As I looked at the wall of tags, I wondered if I would find one that said, “Elder Young.” Then, I spotted it.
It very likely did not belong to the Elder Young from my mission. Nonetheless, I like to think that it was a small tender mercy. It let me know that all the thoughts and memories from my mission had an eternal purpose and that my gratitude for those experiences was recognized.
The dedicatory prayer for the rededication in August of 2022 of the Washington DC temple states, “Please bless all who step onto these grounds, for whatever purpose, to feel Thy presence and to leave with a renewed sense of hope and an increased desire to draw close to Thee and Thy Son.” I am grateful for that blessing as I was able to spend some time on the grounds of that temple. I felt the hand of the Lord in my life that day through small tender mercies letting me know that my prayers had been heard which left me with feelings of hope and a desire to “press on in the work of the Lord.”