In the recent semiannual general conference, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of the thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints whose lives were being blessed thanks to the Church's General Temple Patron Fund. The fund helps faithful members with limited financial resources and who live far from a temple to visit the temple for the first time. (Please see Church News, Oct. 8, p. 3; Oct. 15, p. 5.)
Although the Church has enjoyed a historic period of temple building over the past 15 years, many living in areas where the Church is relatively young still find themselves far from the nearest temple. The General Temple Patron Assistance Fund is assisting many such members realize their lifelong dream to enter the temple and be sealed to families for eternity.
The Church has enjoyed remarkable growth in the Africa Southeast Area in recent years. The area includes more than 130,000 members living in more than a dozen nations stretched across thousands of miles. But only one temple — the Johannesburg South Africa Temple — is found in the area. Still, many of the Saints in the area can be counted as "temple loving" people. Below are the accounts of several members from the Africa Southeast Area whose lives were forever changed because they were able to travel to the temple, thanks to the General Temple Patron Assistance Fund.
"We prepared ourselves and got ready to go to the temple to receive the blessings and to be sealed for eternity so that one day we can see the face of God and live with Him," wrote Sister Odhiambo.
The Odhiambo Family (including father Nicholas, mother Caroline, and children Brian, Mishelle, and Elvince) was able to make the long trip to the temple in Johannesburg despite some family health troubles.
"I know God is a God of miracles and He answers prayers," wrote Caroline after returning home from the temple. "If you have faith everything is possible in the hands of the Lord....I'm grateful to come to the temple and be sealed and to be able to do ordinance [work] for the dead."
Sister Tadokera calls her journey from her native land of Zimbabwe to South Africa "a miracle trip."
"The temple is a place we should always want to be," she wrote. "The peace I felt was awesome. I had a wonderful experience. I was able to participate in the vicarious baptism for my mother and the sealing of my parents for time and all eternity. I know that this Church is true, and I have a testimony of the temple."
Last March, the two were married for eternity in the Johannesburg temple.
"Life after our missions had its challenges, but we worked hard," they wrote. "After much perseverance we were married and sealed in the temple.
"We really loved the temple experience and the blessings of eternal marriage. We don't know what's in store for us in the future, but the scriptures have declared the blessings of eternal marriage. We know it is true."
"It [felt] as if they were in the sealing room with me," she wrote. "I kept looking over my shoulder as if I would see my parents. The love and feelings of tenderness toward my ancestors were strong. I could come back to the temple a million times."
Despite the hardships of traveling from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Sister Karanck reported that the experience was well worth it.
"The blessings are amazing; I love the temple. Indeed it is the House of the Lord."