Temples reopening and blessing students' lives By Serena Dugar Ioane

Students who married in the temple during the pandemic emphasize the importance of eternal marriage in hard times

Photo by Richard Sidal

Since the Laie Hawaii Temple reopened on June 15, students once again can be married in the temple and said they learned to appreciate the real meaning behind a temple sealing.

Photo by Madelene Uyehara

Laie Hawaii Temple reopening

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temporarily closed all the temples around the world on March 25, 2020, due to the spread of the global pandemic, COVID-19.

Since May 11, Church leaders have been rolling out the phased reopening of temples. Laie Hawaii Temple reopened on June 15, 2020, on phase 1, which is open for living sealings only for previously endowed members. Since the temple has opened, many students had their sealings performed and said they were blessed for eternity.

Malissa Kanani Aloha Seniloli, a senior from Tonga majoring in political science, married civilly on April 21 and got sealed on July 3, 2020, to her husband in the Laie Hawaii Temple.

When the temple reopened, she said, “I felt blessed because I could finally be sealed to my husband for time and eternity.” From this experience, the couple highlighted how they learned being sealed for eternity can be very simple.

Photo by Isikeli Fehoko and Cindy Iongi

Sabina Imangaziyeva Kumar, a junior from Kazakhstan majoring in accounting and finance, was sealed to her husband on July 10, 2020. She said the temple reopening was unexpected and impressive.

“When I heard that the Laie temple was open for live sealings, I was thrilled. We started the preparation and booked the temple. The reopening of Laie temple is a blessing for many of us who want to get married in the temple for a time and eternity.”

Samuel Tobon, a senior from Colombia majoring in business management, married his wife on July 21, 2020, in the Laie Hawaii Temple. He said when he married in the temple, he learned how they were following their first parents, Adam and Eve’s examples.

He said they became more connected to their family chain through their temple marriage. “I felt we were getting closer little by little to God’s presence when I got sealed.”

Samuel Tobon’s wife, Anne McCarrey Tobon, a senior from Laie majoring in anthropology, said how they both felt privileged and blessed that the temple reopened for their marriage.

“But I feel that so many more souls are anxiously waiting for the temples’ reopening from the other side of the veil.”

Photo by Monique Saenz

Anne McCarrey Tobon shared how she learned the importance of priesthood power when they got sealed. “Eternal marriage is ordained of God, and through Lord’s authority, our relationship will continue even after death.”

Blessings of marrying during a pandemic

Seniloli shared how getting married during the pandemic made things easier and simpler for her and her husband. “We love the idea of having just a few attendees at our wedding which makes it even better,” Seniloli commented, “It makes you appreciate the real meaning behind a temple sealing. When a wedding is filled with worldly materials, there is a tendency to lose sight of what really matters.”

Kumar said marrying during the global pandemic was difficult because her family could not be a part of her special day. “However, Heavenly Father was with me and brought us to His holy house to accept this marriage.

“As I look through the eternal perspective, all worldly things don’t really matter, what matters most is eternal marriage in the temple.”

Photo by Madelene Uyehara

Kumar explained how marrying in a temple for time and all eternity was what she desired and strived for her whole life. She said she sees many blessings from her marriage.

“So far, we have been blessed to have the Lord’s spirit in our small home, hearts and everywhere we go,” Kumar commented, “We feel strong and feel protection from danger and temptations. We have been blessed with good campus jobs and all other necessities during this hard time.”

In his case, Samuel Tobon said getting married during the pandemic was stress-free. “During a pandemic, we didn’t have to follow the world’s marriage norms. We don’t need to have large gatherings and throw big parties for our marriage. It took away a lot of pressure.”

He said the only downside of getting married during COVID-19 was his family being unable to attend because they are in different countries. “My in-laws were all here, so I really wished my family was here too. Even though we made some sacrifices, it feels good that we prioritized and followed Lord’s commandments.

Photo by Monique Saenz

“While dating, I had a fear that I may lose my girlfriend, but after we were sealed, I received absolute assurance that I will be with my wife for eternity. Our commitment to each other motivates us to press forward.”

Phases of temple reopening

As of August 31, out of the Church's 168 operational temples worldwide, 139 of them are open or scheduled to open, according to the Church News. 79 of these temples are in a phase 2 and 60 temples in phase 1.

For now, the First Presidency did not announce when the Laie Hawaii Temple will move to the next phases yet. According to the Church News, four phases of temple reopening are outlined in a First Presidency letter released on May 7.

Photo by Daniel Ramirez

Four phases of reopening of temples:

• Phase 1: Open for restricted living sealings only. Temple workers will perform living sealings only for previously endowed members under strict guidelines and safety precautions.

• Phase 2: Open for all living ordinances only. Temple workers will perform all temple ordinances for living individuals but will maintain closure of patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations.

• Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions. Temple workers will continue providing ordinances for living individuals and provide proxy ordinances for ancestors in a restricted manner. The Church will open patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations as needed.

• Phase 4: Open for full operations. The Church will resume regular temple operations

See the detailed information of temples’ reopenings from the link: https://www.thechurchnews.com/temples/2020-08-10/lds-temples-open-worldwide-phased-reopening-183918