How President and Sister Eyring found peace in temple covenants during the Teton Dam collapse

‘All will be well because of the temple covenants,’ President Eyring teaches during April 2024 general conference

On a June morning in 1976, President Henry B. Eyring — then president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho — drove with his wife, Sister Kathy Eyring, to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple to attend the sealing of a close friend. They left their four young boys in the care of a babysitter.

While preparing to return home after the sealing, they learned that the newly constructed Teton Dam in eastern Idaho had collapsed — forcing more than 80 billion gallons of water into the 300 square miles of neighboring valleys.

“We were less than 30 miles from home, and yet on this day, long before cell phones and text messaging, we had no way of communicating immediately with our children, nor could we make the drive from Idaho Falls back to Rexburg, as all roads had been closed,” President Eyring recalled.

President Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, detailed this experience in a prerecorded message during the Saturday morning session of April 2024 general conference and explained how he and Sister Eyring found peace through their temple covenants during this tragic event.

They knelt together in an Idaho Falls motel room where they stayed the night and prayed for the safety of their children and the countless others affected. President Eyring was able to put his mind at ease and fall asleep; Sister Eyring paced the floors with worry about their children.

“It wasn’t long thereafter that my sweet eternal companion woke me and said, ‘Hal, how can you sleep at a time like this?’

“These words then came clearly to my heart and mind. I said to my wife: ‘Kathy, whatever the outcome, all will be well because of the temple. We have made covenants with God and have been sealed as an eternal family.’

“At that moment,” President Eyring continued, “it was as if the Spirit of the Lord confirmed in our hearts and minds what we both already knew to be true: the sealing ordinances, found only in the house of the Lord and administered by proper priesthood authority, had bound us together as husband and wife, and our children had been sealed to us. There truly was no need to fear, and we were grateful later to learn that our boys were safe.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 2024.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 2024. | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Safety in temple covenants

President Eyring quoted the words of Church President Russell M. Nelson, who said: “The safest place to be spiritually is living inside your temple covenants. … Everything we believe and every promise God has made to His covenant people come together in the temple.”

President Nelson also taught: “Once we make a covenant with God, we leave neutral ground forever. God will not abandon His relationship with those who have forged such a bond with Him. In fact, all those who have made a covenant with God, have access to a special kind of love and mercy.”

As one attends the temple, they can be reminded of their eternal nature, relationship with the Father and His Son, and desire to return to their heavenly home, President Eyring said. The acceleration of temple building under President Nelson’s leadership will allow all God’s children the opportunity to receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation and to make and keep covenants.

A lifetime pattern of devotion

President Eyring said qualifying to make sacred covenants is a lifetime pattern that “will take our full heart, might, mind, and strength.”

“Frequent participation in the ordinances of the temple can create a pattern of devotion to the Lord,” he explained. “When you keep your temple covenants and remember them, you invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost to both strengthen and purify you.

“You may then experience a feeling of light and hope testifying that the promises are true. You will come to know that every covenant with God is an opportunity to draw closer to Him, which will then create a desire in your heart to keep temple covenants.”

Through sealing covenants, individuals can receive the assurance of loving family connections that will continue after death and last for eternity, he said. Honoring these covenants will provide protection from selfishness and pride.

“Trials, challenges, and heartaches will surely come to all of us. … Yet, as we attend the temple and remember our covenants, we can prepare to receive personal direction from the Lord.”

‘All will be well’

President Eyring closed by sharing the counsel then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave to President and Sister Eyring while performing their temple sealing: “Hal and Kathy, live so that when the call comes, you can walk away easily.”

Nearly 10 years later, an unanticipated call came from the Commissioner of Church Education to leave California to serve in an assignment and in a place they knew nothing about.

“However, our family was ready to leave because a prophet, in a holy temple, a place of revelation, saw a future event for which we were then prepared,” President Eyring said.

“My dear brothers and sisters, I bear witness that there is nothing more important than honoring the covenants you make, or may make, in the temple,” he testified. “No matter where you are on the covenant path, I urge you to qualify and become eligible to attend the temple. Visit as frequently as circumstances will allow. Make and keep sacred covenants with God.

“I can assure you of the same truth I shared with Kathy in the middle of the night nearly five decades ago in an Idaho Falls motel room: ‘No matter the outcome, all will be well because of the temple covenants.’”

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