News Story

Australian Couple Finds Joy in Helping Finish the Lord’s Temples

Australian couple shares the joy of participating in the details of temple construction and maintenance in the South Pacific

Two commercial decorators from Australia’s Gold Coast are finding joy and fulfillment in helping to put some of the beautiful finishing touches on the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the South Pacific.

The temples of the Church hold immense spiritual importance for its members. Different from the almost 20,000 Church meetinghouses that dot the world and are filled with spiritual messages and music each Sunday, temples are places of holiness and peace separate from the preoccupations of the world.

They are places where the highest sacraments of the faith occur — the marriage of couples and the “sealing” of families together for eternity. Because these buildings are specifically dedicated to the Lord for these ordinances, the interior beauty of temples reflect this sacred purpose.

Michael and Debbie Wilkin have firsthand experience in providing some of the final beautiful touches to these magnificent buildings, known literally as “houses of the Lord”. These interior decorators from Robina, Australia are among several select teams throughout the world with whom the Church contracts to complete the important finishing touches in these beautiful temples.

They became involved in this work in an unusual way.

“My friend and I were assigned to perform some vicarious ordinances in the Brisbane Australia Temple,” Michael explains. “I had driven to the temple in my business van, and when I was returning to it after the completion of my assignment a fellow approached me in the car park and said he was the facilities manager for the Church in the area.

“He asked if I would be interested in doing some work for the Church.”

Michael says, “We were asked if we would be willing to do some gilding (painting with special gold paint) on a statue of the Angel Moroni (a prophet in ancient America, who heralded the restoration of the gospel and whose statue is a feature atop some of the Church’s temples). We told him that we were willing, submitted a bid, and we did that very interesting work and have since been fortunate enough to work on many other projects since.”

Members of The Church expect the houses of the Lord to reflect the kind of experiences they believe they would have in God’s presence, so only the finest work is acceptable in every detail. “These buildings are very special, so the work we do has to be perfect,” Debbie says.

Michael and Debbie Wilkin are shown on the job at one of the many temples they have worked at throughout the world.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

They do specialized painting, apply stencils, gilding (also called “gold-leafing” with 23 carat gold-infused paint), repair plaster and wallpaper, and even do furniture repair. “In terms of the work we do, we can do anything that needs to be done to the decor in a temple,” Michael says.

The couple works in temples that are already established and require a refreshing of their interiors, as well as in new temple construction. Typically, their interior refreshing work is accomplished during one of a temple’s semi-annual maintenance closure periods, usually about two weeks twice a year.

They receive their assignments well in advance and review the needs of the specific temple being assigned, and then travel to the area. Upon arrival Michael and Debbie do a walk-through with the temple facilities manager, putting bright green tape everywhere they see something that needs to be redone or touched up.

“We have a very short window to get all of this work done so we’re very focused about it,” Debbie said.

“When we’ve finished everything on our list, then we walk around and look at it again—to see if there is anything else that we didn’t notice the first time,” she says.  “Making sure it’s completely done and done well—the sense of accomplishment of doing that is quite a thrill.”

And, as Michael and Debbie have found, they experience tremendous revelatory moments and attendant blessings when they are working on the Lord’s temples.

“We needed some bigger stencils for a temple we were working on, but since we didn’t know anybody in that particular city we just went to the internet and found two or three stencil suppliers.” Debbie said. “We felt drawn to one in particular, but it was 11 o’clock at night and we needed these stencils as soon as we could get them. We couldn’t find their trading hours on the website but out of the blue the impression came to me, “Why don’t you just call them?”

“We discussed that if we did that maybe their answering machine would give us their hours,” Debbie continued.  “So, I called the number and the owner of the business answered.”

He was at the office that night because of some problems his own people were having with a project they were working on. Later, when Michael and Debbie went in to pick up their new stencils, the man told them it was very unusual for him to be at the office at that time of night.

“He said he had to come in to recut all the stencils for his own project and that he was going to be there until two or three in the morning. That had never happened before,” Debbie said. “But Mike had been fasting and praying all day about this, and we believe the Lord led us to the business that could help us complete what we were working on.”

“We’re so grateful for moments like these.”

Michael and Debbie Wilkin say this is a very exciting time in this special work of building temples throughout the world, and they are thankful to be able to play their small role. “We like certain elements of a challenge, and we like to work together. It’s quite rare—a husband and wife team. But we work really well together,” Debbie says.

“There’s this saying I’ve heard others say, ‘The Lord is in the details,’ and sometimes in the past I honestly wondered, ‘Really?’” Michael added. “But He really is and when we’re struggling the most, trying to find a solution to a problem we’re facing, He will show us the better way to do it.

“It’s really astounding to be a part of that.”

Additional Resources

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