Following a stake conference in India last year, an eight-year old girl handed me a note. In beautiful handwriting it read, “Asia Area Vision: That all may increase in faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and enjoy happy, eternal families.” This young girl had memorized the Area Vision and had written the note during the conference.
I know her family well. During the long flight back to Hong Kong I thought of how blessed she is to have such fine parents who are teaching her and their other children important gospel truths. One of those truths is that our family can be both eternal and happy. Families can be eternal by receiving the ordinances and keeping the covenants of the temple and they can be happy by living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Moroni visited 17-year old Joseph Smith, one of the first things he taught him was that the hearts of the children would turn to their fathers. Moroni referred to the words recorded in Malachi and explained that Elijah would restore the sealing power to the earth [Joseph Smith – History 1:36-39]. On April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple, Elijah bestowed the sealing power upon the Prophet Joseph Smith. [D&C 110:13-16]. Today that sealing power is used in temples throughout the world to unite families forever.
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” we learn that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” The uniting for eternity of husbands and wives, and of children to parents, are among the most treasured blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the reason families eagerly look forward to attending the temple.
There have been changes in the use of the General Temple Patron Assistance Fund that make it possible for more members of the Church, including those in Asia who often live far from a temple, to attend the temple sooner and more often than they might have in the past. Though some sacrifice is still needed, members do not need to wait and save as long as they may have in the past. For some, the sacrifice that may be needed is keeping the commandments and paying a full-tithe.
In addition to using the General Temple Patron Assistance Fund to assist members to receive their own ordinances, such funds may now be used to enable members to attend the temple when immediate family members receive their ordinances. For example, faithful parents who raise their children righteously are now able to join them in the temple to witness the sealing of their children at the time of their temple marriage. While we look forward to the day when temples will be closer to more of our members in Asia, we are grateful that all are able to receive the blessings of an eternal family as they live worthy of a temple recommend.
Heavenly Father not only desires that our families be eternal, but that they be happy. In the family proclamation, we also learn how our family can be happier. It states: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” When we live in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father and His Son, we find our conduct also pleases our earthly family.
The family proclamation states that successful families are “established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” Through faith and prayer, we draw nearer to our Heavenly Father. With respect, love and compassion, we draw closer to those in our earthly family. And through work and wholesome recreational activities, we help and support one another and have fun together.
Sister Funk and I have lived in Asia for seven years now, far away from our children and grandchildren. We have noticed how much our children enjoy getting together with each other and how happy they are when they do so. They have respect, love and compassion for each other, and they help each other while we are serving here. We are very grateful for our family and for the sealing ordinance that unites us.
Whatever your own present circumstances, strive for a family that is both eternal and happy. I pray you will work for and experience the joy of that blessing in your life. ■
Caption: Elder Randy D. Funk