Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Blessings of the Temple (Merced's Miracle)

San Antonio Temple

Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: 

The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls - not the peace provided by men but the peace provided by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you".1

The First Presidency Message in the August 2010 Ensign is entitled “Temple Blessings”. In this article, President Dieter F. Uchdorf states:

The temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are truly built for the benefit of all the world, irrespective of nationality, culture, or political orientation. 2

To that I would humbly add - irrespective of social or economic standing, as well. I say this because his brief comments remind me of another story, a little closer to home.

My wife, Alma's father, Merced Tijerina, joined the Church when Alma was very young. They were a poor family. Alma's mother, Elvia and Merced, were immigrants to the United States. As a young man, my father-in law left Mexico and an abusive father, with little money and six months of formal education to chase his dreams. When he grew to adulthood, in Pharr, Texas…and after five years of thought and prayer, he and his young family joined the Church. Merced and Elvia soon decided that the family needed to be sealed together for eternity. Of course, being poor, they did not own a vehicle that could complete the trip from the Rio Grande Valley to the Mesa, Arizona Temple, so... they saved for four years, while Merced and Elvia worked long hours in a hotel kitchen and a local factory. Eventually, equipped with an old Jeep and hand-sewn temple clothes for their four little girls, the family was on its way to the Mesa Temple, where they were sealed for time and eternity. Of course, the trip was not uneventful. For example, on the way home, the Jeep broke down. Thankfully, they were able to contact a kind-hearted Branch President, who invited the Tijerinas to visit for several days while they waited for a needed part to arrive.

David E. Sorenson of the Presidency of the 70, has  said, " Temple ordinances also provide an opportunity to strengthen our families, something so much needed today."

 …as was the case with the Tijerinas.

The Tijerina family arrived home to a neighborhood that over the years became overrun by gangs and drugs. My brother-in law tells me that many of his childhood friends are dead or in jail. The family was not left completely unaffected by the influence of the neighborhood and the area. They had their trials, as well. However, today all of the five children have families of their own and college educations. Two have post-graduate degrees. An educator, a physician's assistant, a bone marrow transplant nurse, a hard working wife and mother and a juvenile probation officer. Most of them attend the Temple regularly. They all attribute much of their happiness today to the example of their father. Merced Tijerina, the valiant priesthood holder, who drove his family 1200 miles from Pharr, Texas to the Mesa, Arizona Temple -  and back - in an ancient Jeep.

Of course, the Temple is not only or the living.
Strength can be provided through performing ordinances vicariously for our ancestors, thus forming a “welding link” between parents and children (D and C 128:18). For example, in the temple we can be baptized vicariously for our ancestors who may not have had a chance to hear the gospel during their mortal lives (see 1 Cor. 15:29). 3
In his last years, Merced suffered from cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.  He had difficulty remembering his children’s names, where he had been or where he was. However he did have one memory that he related often. It was of the time he went to the Mexico City Temple in the morning and performed baptism after baptism. Unaware that many hours had passed, he was surprised to see that it was late in the evening and dark when he finally stepped out the door and into the world. He always ended the story with the comment, “Beautiful work!”. As it did for Merced and Elvia. One month before his death, Merced went to the San Antonio Temple for a granddaughter’s sealing. In the Celestial Room, his wife of 50 years, realizing that this would probably be their last time attending together, started to weep. Merced whispered to her, "When I am gone, come here. This is where you will find me."
Each temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a stepping-stone to eternal glory for us and our family. 4

And, now he is gone. He died peacefully surrounded by Elvia, five loving children and a host of siblings, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Let us not allow the wealth, the honors of men, or the vain things of the world to keep us from being worthy of this sacred privilege that can be ours. We are indeed blessed to have come to earth at this time, when these beautiful saving ordinances have been restored to the earth, and to have the privilege of participating in them. 5

By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put his arms unfailing round you.
God be with you till we meet again.
God be with you till we meet again;
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you;
Smite death’s threat’ning wave before you.
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet. …
God be with you till we meet again. 6

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