Members react to Shanghai and Dubai temple announcements

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When President Russell M. Nelson announced the building of temples in Shanghai and Dubai, people, especially those from or living in both areas, were excited about the news.

BYU student Jenna Cook lived with her family in Shanghai for three years. She said the announcement of the Shanghai Temple still feels like a dream.

Jenna Cook and her family react to President Nelson announcing a temple in Shanghai, China. (Jenna Cook)

“This temple is nothing less than a miracle! The members are so faithful there and while they have many restrictions on how they can practice their faith, I am so grateful they will get to add temple work into their lives, especially with the Hong Kong Temple closing,” Cook said.

BYU student RiLee Andros from Spokane Washington said the temple announcement was the most touching part of conference for her. She works at the BYU English Language Center and communicates regularly with international students, specifically with Chinese students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in mainland China.

Andros said when President Nelson announced the Shanghai Temple, she immediately became emotional. “I thought of every Chinese student I have worked with and how they, their families and their LDS friends in China must be rejoicing,” Andros said. “I think it was very special that they found a way to make a temple available to those Saints on mainland China despite the religious restrictions there.”

Cody Messick is a BYU student from Shanghai. “My family and I have lived through and witnessed firsthand the growth of the local and expatriate branches of the Church in China,” he said.

Messick had an experience several years back while on his mission in Seattle, Washington, where at the close of general conference President Nelson made a long pause before announcing the final temple.

“At once I felt such a strong impression in my heart that he would say somewhere in mainland China,” Messick said. “He did not. However, the feeling that lingered was so strong I remember kneeling down that night and promising Heavenly Father in my prayers that I would do anything to be a part of making that happen one special day.”

For all the general conferences since that one, Messick watched President Nelson announce temples eagerly, he listened to people cheer for the temples and knew that one day it would be him cheering.

“This afternoon (on April 5) as I sat with my siblings gathered to watch conference, I felt the same anticipation build when President Nelson paused before announcing the final temple,” Messick said.

Tears filled Messick’s eyes when he heard President Nelson say the words “Shanghai, China.”

Cody Messick, left, with his grandmother, middle, and younger sister, right, in Shanghai. (Cody Messick)

“I thought of how the scores of names that my mom would send off to those with closer access to the temple can now be done by our own family, by my grandma and my uncle and all the members in the local branch,” Messick said.

Messick’s 89-year-old grandma told him that she jumped off the couch when she heard the news. “I want to be one of the first to sign up to work at the temple,” she said.

Messick said with the announcement of the Shanghai Temple, he felt Heavenly Father’s love for all of his children in China.

“What a blessing for me,” Messick said. “What a miracle for my family on this side and on the other side of the veil. Thank you Heavenly Father, and thank you President Nelson.”

Jimmer Fredette tweeted his excitement about the Shanghai Temple, calling it “one of the greatest announcements of (his) life.”

“I’m so happy for the people of China and the surrounding area,” he said in a tweet. “I love that city and all its people in it. Unbelievably cool!”

Twitter user @thekhansultants said that she didn’t think the news of the Dubai temple would happen in her lifetime.

BYU student Bevan Haycock said President Nelson’s comment that the Church was invited to build a temple in Dubai was interesting.

“I’m thrilled that the Church is receiving global recognition and that our buildings are so beautiful enough to warrant an invitation,” Haycock said.

Emily Watkins, a BYU-Idaho student who went to Jerusalem to study last fall, said she was ecstatic that all the faithful members in the Middle East will finally get a temple.

“After living in the Middle East and getting to know some members in Palestinian territories and Jordan, I’ve seen their faith and devotion even though it’s really tough to be a member over there,” Watkins said. “I feel like having a temple closer by will offer a lot of peace and hope to the members in the area and will further help the Church grow over there.”

Linton Crockford-Moore is a member who joined the Church in Dubai five years ago. He has lived there for 20 years.

“What a joy to wake up this morning (on April 5) to hear the words of our prophet when he announced a temple would be built here in this land that I love,” Crockford-Moore said.

In 2016 Matt Wyman had just finished the first year of his masters degree at BYU, when he had the opportunity to take a semester off and help install and program a lighting system for a new theme park in Dubai.

“I loved my little ward out there and to think of the opportunities for them to go to the temple and not have to travel for thousands of miles is such a blessing,” Wyman said.

Matt Wyman standing in front of the stake center in Abu Dhabi, which is next to Dubai, in November 2016. (Matt Wyman)

Twitter user @rodricjohnson29 said the announcement of the temples in Shanghai and Dubai blew his mind. “I am so overjoyed. God is on the move,” he said.

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