This week I have learned so many beautiful lessons and seen so many miracles that it’s hard to know where to begin.
This week I had been trying to focus on “bearing with patience mine afflictions” and continuing in hope that the Lord’s promises are sure. If we can just remember that then every difficult thing in life is bearable. That phrase is repeated in different iterations many times in the scriptures and it has stood out to me a lot recently. The most notable example comes from my favourite chapter of the Book of Mormon (Alma 26), which talks about 4 great missionaries called the sons of Mosiah.
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
On Sunday, I had a difficult day, and again (this time in D&C 31, particularly 9) this phrase came into my mind.
9 Be patient in afflictions, revile not against those that revile. Govern your house in meekness, and be steadfast.
I know that whatever burdens we have placed on us, Christ can help take them away. His Atonement is infinite and all-encompassing. He has literally felt all of our emotions that are in any way negative (ie other than pure celestial joy – anger, sadness, discouragement) and understands completely. He can really be our best friend if we let him. If we turn our burdens over to him we can find so much joy. Heavenly Father is waiting to give us blessings we can’t even imagine.
One such blessing came this past Thursday….
Growing up my biggest dream has always been to see my family sealed in the temple. By going to the temple and being sealed our family can be together forever!!!
When President Bertasso called me into his office I had no idea what to expect. He handed me an email from my mom and I found out that we’d be getting sealed as a family in the Provo Temple!!!
It was honestly the happiest day of my life so far. My companions could tell you that I couldn’t stop smiling huge from the moment I found out. It was so amazing to see my family all dressed in white and to be able to escort my mom who I love so much through the temple! Holding hands with my brothers and parents there and looking into mirrors that went on forever was such an amazing feeling. We’ve worked hard to get here and I know we’ll be blessed more than we can comprehend for achieving this goal. I hope one day everyone can have the opportunity to be sealed to the people they love most.
I have a testimony that the Lord’s promises for us our sure. We just need to hold on through our struggles, because things full of overwhelming joy are around the corner.
The temple is my favourite place in the whole world and I encourage everyone to go walk around the grounds and just feel that powerful and wonderful spirit of peace there.
I love you all!!! Stay strong!!! Good things are ahead!!!
4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
This Tuesday Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the importance of the family and its central role in the Church. This was especially significant given the following experience as described by Sister de Ruyter’s companion Sister Hawkins:
This is what it’s all about.
I might have experienced the best day of my life so far. It all started on Monday morning. My companion/district were eating lunch in the cafeteria. President Bertasso, the 1st Counselor in the MTC Presidency, came and sat down by us. He said hello and then turned to Sister De Ruyter. He asked her if she and I would come meet with him in about an hour in his office. He said it was confidential. When he got up and left, my companion and I just stared at each other in bewilderment. Our first collective thoughts were that maybe we’d have to say prayers in devotional or something like that. We’d heard rumors of an apostle coming the next day for devotional.
We left class and went to meet with him. We entered his office and he has us sit down at a comfortable couch. Then he goes and gets the District President. The two sit in front of us and then President Bertasso hands Sister De Ruyter a piece of paper. He then said, “This was sent to me from your mother.” She begins reading it, with bewildered looks, and then she bursts into tears. I hear some muttered words that I don’t understand and I stare at everyone in confusion. As Sister De Ruyter is crying, President Bertasso tells her to update her companion. I then begin reading the letter. It was actually a poem. At the end of the poem, it reads:
“We’ll meet you in the Temple,
The day will be so bright,
As our family’s sealed forever
In His eternal Light.”
Then toward the end of the piece of paper it read,
“We’ll see you and Sister Hawkins Thursday.”
We are now both rejoicing and tears are pouring down our faces. The two brethren were tearing up as well. Sister De Ruyter’s mother is a convert. When I first met Sister De Ruyter, she told me all about her family and how they weren’t sealed. I just remember telling her that maybe this mission will bless her family so much they’ll be ready to be sealed at the end of her mission.
She just got told that her mother is ready to be sealed in the temple with her family. The MTC Presidency not only approved it, but is rejoicing. As we both looked up, they said to us that “This is what it’s all about.” They then went into details about what would happen. Sister De Ruyter’s family would travel to Utah from California. Her and I would be her mother’s escort as she went through her initiatory and endowment. Then we would all be there for the sealing. We’d even be able to eat lunch in the temple afterwards. WHAT NEWS!
It gets better. After talking with her mom on the phone, she said she wanted to invite our whole district. It was approved by the presidency. Then it got approved for both of our teachers to attend the ceremony with us. WOW!!!
Thursday was quite the day. My district feels like my family. Going through with my companion made it feel like we really would be friends forever. It was an incredible experience watching this wonderful lady get her endowment and then get sealed for time and all eternity to their family. Sister De Ruyter’s two younger brothers were there and were so adorable. Afterwards, we all got to walk outside of the temple in our white temple dresses/clothes and take pictures. Brother McKay was the officiator for the endowment session and he’s the executive secretary of the MTC. He was in tears as he shook our hands and loved what we were experiencing and what was happening. He too agreed that “This is what it’s all about.” Even our teachers were there.
After the temple experience, we all had lunch and chatted and laughed. It truly felt like a day in heaven.
The temple President, (President Burgess), and President Bertasso wanted to meet the family so we all walked back to the MTC and chatted with them for about an hour. Then we all took a picture. Her dad told their story and tears were shed again.
President Russel M. Nelson came on Tuesday to speak. The moment he walked into the MTC auditorium and everyone stood up, I just started crying. The spirit was SO strong. He spoke about eternal families and “what it’s all about.” When he left the room, I was sad to see him go. In our meeting with the President and the De Ruyter Family, they mentioned that they had talked to President Nelson about what was going to occur on Thursday and about the De Ruyter Family. He had said also that that was wonderful and this was “what it’s all about.”
Brothers and Sisters, I too testify of these things. This is why I am going to Mongolia, some 3500 miles away. This is why I’m leaving my home, my family, my wonderful job, my friends, my country and security, and heading to a foreign land literally on the other side of the world. It’s so that I can bring the knowledge that families are eternal. If I had even just a small part in helping someone’s dear family become one that lasted for eternity, in the presence of God, Our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, than it would ALL be worth it. I have been so immensely blessed with the knowledge that no matter what, my family will be together forever. I love my family so much and cannot imagine life without each and EVERY one of them with me always. It has been such a blessing to know that if we keep our covenants, we will be able to journey through the eternities together. This is what our purpose on this earth is about. I testify that this is WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.
A few excerpts from Sister de Ruyter’s family emails:
The Lord obviously has had much bigger plans for us than we could have realized. My focus has just been on “bearing with patience my afflictions” (Alma 26: 27) and trusting that it is all for our benefit. I read D&C 31:2 on Sunday in Church because I was having a bad day and I just opened to it.
Behold, you have had many afflictions because of your family; nevertheless, I will bless you and your family, yea your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you in the church.
And then the next day I found out the news… how lovely!
In verse 2 it says that one day my family will be one with me in the Church. Or at least I felt like it was talking to me. And in verse 5 it said that if I thrust in my sickle with all my might and try as hard as I can to be a good missionary my sins are forgiven and my family will live. I repeated that over and over in my mind and tried to make sure I was truly thrusting in my sickle. It began to rain gloriously, which has always made me feel spiritually and physically clean…it was like Heavenly Father was outpouring his love just for me. I raised my arms up to the sky and rejoiced and spun around…
The very next day was the second happiest day of my life. The president of the MTC called me into his office and told me that my family would be coming up to Provo and we could be sealed forever. There I was, one day later, receiving my most enduring precious dream. I had so often lost hope that it would be fulfilled in this life…passing through so many afflictions that at the time I didn’t know if I could—or if it was even worth it—to endure, to get to this point…Nevertheless, the Lord has His own time and His own plan and it is exactly what we need. I bear you my witness without a single hesitation that His promises are sure. That applies to every one of His covenant children.
From an email sent to the family shortly after visiting the temple:
Today was wonderful!!!!! I love you all so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3
Over the next few hours following our sealing we got the following news:
- Sister de Ruyter and Sister Tao’s visas would be delayed
- Sister Harmon was going to address her health issues at home and hopefully rejoin the group in Mongolia within a few months
- Elder Lamb and Sister Hawkins would be traveling alone to Mongolia Tuesday August 11
- Sister de Ruyter would be temporarily reassigned to Colorado Springs to wait for her Visa
- (a few hours later) Sister de Ruyter would NOT be reassigned to Colorado Springs but would be waiting at the MTC
- Sister de Ruyter should have the necessary paperwork to proceed to Mongolia in a week or two
An excerpt from a letter Sister de Ruyter sent to her grandmother:
This was the best week of my life because my family was sealed in the Provo temple on Thursday.
I have such a strong testimony of the miracles that happen (in the temple). It is literally the house of the Lord and there we can find so much wisdom and peace. I am so blessed to have been able to make these sacred covenants with my family and I know it will make us closer and help us be kinder and more supportive of each other. I hope someday we can all be sealed together (with all of my ancestors and relatives), because I want to live with my whole family forever!!!