It seemed like it was a long time coming. The anticipation was high as P. (age 8) and her family began their trip to the Manila temple from their home village of Châu Đốc, Vietnam. They were on their way to be sealed as a forever family.
A six hour bus ride brought the family into Ho Chi Minh City where they joined the rest of the group – 44 in all – who were making their way to Manila for the annual temple trip.
On July 17, members from the three branches in Ho Chi Minh City as well as the Virtual Branch from the outlying areas gathered together at the Tan Son Nhat chapel for a brief devotional before catching either the 1:00 am flight to Manila or a flight later that morning.
|A devotional started off the trip with the outpouring of the Spirit.|
|The group gathers for the 1:00 am flight.|
We were assigned traveling buddies - Elder Coffey and I traveled with a delightful mother and her daughter.
Arriving at the temple in the middle of the bustling, crowded city of Manila is a little bit like finding heaven. A lot like it, actually.
The tired but happy group gathered in the patron housing lobby to receive their room assignments.
|Patron Housing at the Manila Temple - for those who travel a long distance to attend.|
|Catching up on sleep before heading over to the temple.|
The temple provides housing for temple patrons who come to the temple from long distances. Bunk beds line each room housing 8 people. Some rooms are reserved for families so they can stay together.
|Assigning out the bedding for each room.|
The group arrived at the temple around 6 in the morning and after resting up a bit, began serving in the temple.
The Manila temple is an English speaking temple. Many of those in our group spoke only Vietnamese, but several in the group were able to translate to help explain things. In spite of translation challenges, the universal language of the Spirit flowed and blessings followed.
A particularly tender moment was when P.'s family was sealed - first her grandparents to each other, then her mother to her grandparents, then her parents to each other, and then the crowning moment when P. and her baby sister were brought in to also be sealed as a forever family. I could not hold back the tears that swelled in my eyes at this sacred moment.
|It was a very big day for them!|
S. was another one who came to the temple (photo, right). A widow for 7 years, she came to receive the sacred ordinance of being sealed to her husband for time and all eternity. Miracles unfolded as saints rallied around her to help her with the paperwork and translation in order to be able to perform the sealing. She has been a member of the church for 2 years and this has been a sacred highlight for her.
The blessings continued day and night as members were baptized for their loved ones by proxy and as families were joined together by the power and authority of the priesthood that Heavenly Father has restored to the earth in these last days.
Elder Coffey and I and others were given opportunities to assist in the temple - helping wherever they needed us.