1) I didn't expect to have the experience I had, so I wasn't totally prepared for it. I was asked to be the second officiator in the endowment (or whatever else that might be called), mostly to watch the officiator closely and learn what he did - in order to be able to do it as soon as possible myself. It was the first time in my life I had sat at the front of the room. Being that second officiator is being, primarily, an observer not a full participant, in a real way, and three things impressed me deeply experiencing the endowment from that perspective:
a) In the very near future, I will be standing in front of a group of people seeking various things by attending - and I will be representing God and God's messenger to them. That hit me hard, and it made me pause and consider a few things about myself. That personal contemplation alone is an important thing, and I have come to believe over time that it is one of the most important things about the temple ordinances - NOT as a guilt-inducer, but simply as a way to separate from life and the hassles of "the world" and have time and quietude in which self-reflection and introspection are possible.
b) There was a couple who were receiving their own endowment, and it was wonderful to see their friends work so lovingly and patiently with them throughout the ordinance. It also was wonderful to see everyone else's faces as they watched that couple - full of smiles and support. I could see all of that from the front in a way that I have not been able to do in the past. I also had the chance to represent the Lord taking the man through the veil, and I found myself slowing down dramatically as I spoke with him. That realization hit me hard - that the Lord will slow down for each of us and work with us at the speed that is best for us.
c) This one might sound sacrilegious to some members, but watching the film from the very front of the room and from the side is fascinating. The extreme angle makes the entire thing appear "off" - almost like a fun house mirror. The size proportions, the facial expressions, even some of the coloring - everything changes radically in appearance. In a really strange way, I felt visually what some members feel emotionally - a weird kind of disconnect between what is expected and what is experienced and/or seen. I can't describe exactly what I experienced, but I am glad I experienced it - and I will find a way to share it in meetings I attend in the future.
2) Normally, I would have said the prayer during the endowment, but the coordinator didn't want to put that on me during my first shift. I appreciated that. However, in our short training meeting, one of the other new people asked if there were elements of the prayer that were required, since so many end up sounding so similar. The answer was an emphatic,
"No. Try to listen for the Spirit, but say whatever you feel should be said. This is a "real" prayer, not a memorized recitation. Just keep it relatively short and speak in small phrases, so the patrons aren't over-whelmed."
3) The emphasis in the training was on trying to do everything perfectly - in order to maximize the comfort of the patrons and not distract in any way from their experience. The focus was not on perfection in and of itself or for our own benefit but rather on helping others. It reminded me of advice to sports officials that they do their job best when nobody remembers them after the game. It was a really neat thing to hear.
4) I made one mistake in wording when the first patron came to the veil. I used one word that fit the general meaning that wasn't the word I was supposed to use. It couldn't be corrected, given the role I was playing, but it hit me that, ultimately, it didn't matter for that patron - that it's not about performance perfection but rather the intent of the heart - that my mistake in that role is understood, accepted and "forgiven" just like all the other mistakes I make in life. I got a strong feeling of peace that was . . . reassuring and uplifting.