As a child, Hannah Hurtado loved playing kickball, dancing ballet and hunting for worms. But more than anything, she wanted her father to be baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“My daughter kept praying that I would be baptized someday and that we could all be sealed together as a family in the temple,” said Joe Hurtado, Hannah’s father, in a FamilySearch video published about 10 years ago.
When it came time for 8-year-old Hannah to be baptized, Joe Hurtado’s heart was touched. Hannah’s example and prayers of faith, as well as the fellowship of a member of the stake presidency, led to a desire to meet with missionaries and be baptized.
Following Joe Hurtado’s baptism in 2012, the Hurtado family was sealed in the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple in 2013.
“Prayer is very powerful,” young Hannah testified in the video. “I know that if you pray with all your heart and you pray lots of times, it will come true.”
Nearly 10 years after Joe Hurtado’s baptism, the Hurtado family reflected on the blessings of their temple sealing during a segment of the 2022 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, broadcast in conjunction with RootsTech on March 3.
Joe Hurtado and his wife, Connie — along with Hannah, her brothers Nicholas and Justin and Nicholas’ wife, MJ — participated in a discussion with Primary General President Camille N. Johnson and Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
“The sealing has made such an impact in my life,” said Hannah Hurtado, now 19 and studying political science at Williams College in Massachusetts. “I’ve seen it in my family as we’ve grown closer to each other. … I think it has drawn us closer to the Savior.”
Joe Hurtado told President Johnson and Sister Aburto that his family’s temple sealing has deepened his trust in the Lord. “A lot of times now, my fallback answer is that ‘He will provide for us,’ and He has. If we pray, we will get the answers that we’re looking for and He will take care of us,” he said.
Read more: ‘The blessings of power and protection’ — Temple and Family History instruction led by Elder Bednar, Elder Gong, President Johnson, Sister Aburto
Blessings of family history
To help prepare their young children for the temple sealing in 2013, Joe and Connie Hurtado acted on an invitation from stake leaders to get involved in family history. They learned about their ancestors from Mexico, Japan and Scotland and strengthened relationships with their grandparents.
The family remains passionate about family history to this day.
“Family history is fun and amazing,” said Hannah Hurtado, giving the example of uploading photos to the FamilySearch Memories app. “Everyone has time for it. Everyone has time for family history.”
Justin Hurtado, a 16-year-old high school student, is learning Japanese so he can work on his father’s maternal line. He expressed that every time he attends the temple, he feels like the experience adds “one more safety cable” to help him in life.
Nicholas Newton, 24 — Joe Hurtado’s stepson who was sealed to the Hurtados following his sealing to his wife, MJ, in 2019 — often showed the family’s video while serving in the California Sacramento Mission to talk about family history and the miracles it can bring.
During his missionary service, he found dozens of family names needing temple ordinances. “Those names I put in an envelope and mailed home so my family could take them to the temple,” Nicholas Newton said.
And they did. “It gives you an extra special feeling,” Joe Hurtado said of doing temple work for ancestors.
Shortly after the Hurtados were sealed in 2013, Joe Hurtado became an ordinance worker in the temple — a testimony-building experience he will never forget.
“There is something about the temple that just feels so close, that the veil is so thin. You just know that they’re wanting that work done, and they’re just waiting on the other side to have it done so they can continue on their journey,” he said.
Power and protection from temple covenants
Connie Hurtado said since the sealing she has watched her family develop spiritually in ways she’d only hoped for. And now as her children grow up and spread out across the country, she trusts they are in the Lord’s hands.
“As a parent, I’d always wanted to be able to give my children a strong enough background that they could only stand on their testimonies,” she said. “And I feel like the whole experience of going through the temple and being sealed … they’ve developed those testimonies, and I don’t worry about that.”
President Johnson told the Church News after the recording that she was particularly impressed by that insight from Connie Hurtado. “She said she felt like she could let her kids go, that they could exercise their agency and she could let them fly because she knew that they were protected by those blessings of the temple. …
“The power and protection of the temple is real, and you can see it in the lives of these family members,” President Johnson said.
Sister Aburto commented on the happiness she could see in the Hurtado family. That happiness doesn’t mean they don’t struggle from time to time, as the family pointed out during the discussion.
“I think they are a great example for all of us,” Sister Aburto said. “They talked about having challenges and struggles in their life, but they are still holding on, they are united, and they are joyfully bound to the Lord.”
For MJ Newton, learning about the faith journey of her husband’s family has been inspiring. Her temple covenants brought her peace as she and Nicholas prepared to welcome a baby into the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their son Liam is now 1 year old.
“I just remember having peace because we knew our family was going to be fine. We were sealed and we were together, and that’s what was important,” MJ Newton said.
Hannah Hurtado recognizes that many who see her family’s story might be praying for similar blessings for their families, patiently waiting on the Lord’s timing.
“Heavenly Father knows you individually,” she said. “He loves you. He loves each of your family members, and He will do whatever is best for your family. And if you put in the work and the effort, then it’ll all work out.”