The figurative phrase “you are never lost when you can see the temple” has a special, literal meaning for the Salerno family. They’re at home when they see the temple — enjoying a view of the soon-to-open Rome Italy Temple from their apartment.
The quote comes from an April 2009 general conference address by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, now a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home,” he added in his 2009 message. “Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of your family will draw you to the temple.”
Combining desires and efforts for a strong family with the constant visual reminder of the role of the temple, the Salernos — early-30-somethings Daniele and Norma Salerno, their daughters Emma (age 7) and Alice (3) and a third baby girl due in February — are eager to apply the new “home-centered, Church-supported” curriculum and patterns of gospel study.
“What this phrase means to us is a loving invitation to gain a deeper understanding of the sacred trust God has placed in us as spouses and parents,” said Daniele Salerno, whose family attends the Roma 2nd Ward. “It’s helping us feel and understand how we can teach our precious girls the gospel truths so they can feel Heavenly Father’s love and grow to become spiritually self-reliant individuals early in their lives.”
Adapting the gospel to families
For his wife, the “home-centered, Church-supported” phrase helps underscore the responsibility of having been entrusted to teach oneself and one’s family the gospel.
“It expresses the concept that the Church helps — but does not substitute — parents in rearing children in righteousness,” Norma Salerno said. “In addition, I believe the new manual and program empowers families even more in receiving important and specific personal revelation that will help them live better through these latter days.”
Given the promptings and directions received through the Holy Ghost, “I feel that the new curriculum stresses the important truth that we need revelation from God in order to know how to adapt the gospel to our own family and circumstances,” she said.
An obscured selling point
The Salernos have been in their northeast Rome apartment since October 2014. Ironically, when the real estate agency first showed them the property, the curtains were shut, obscuring the temple construction site.
Well aware of the proximity of the temple grounds and the new building under construction, the family requested to see the view.
“I asked if they knew what they were building out there,” Daniele Salerno recalled. “The agent replied it was ‘the Mormon Church’ and said nothing else about it. Obviously, we knew what it was, and it made us smile — they thought the construction site would deter buyers, but we decided to take the apartment because of it.”
Strengthening the family
They see the new curriculum and patterns of study being easily adapted and embraced by families with young children, as parents use prayer and constant planning in finding new ways and methods of teaching the gospel. Norma Salerno calls the new curriculum “a heaven-sent blessing” for fathers and mothers in the Church.
“Knowing that each member of the family is studying the same scripture passages during the week and during Church hours will provide daily and Sunday discussions on what every family member learned from that specific passage and how they will apply it in their lives during the week,” she said. “This will surely unite and fortify families even more in the gospel and also provide quality experiences spent together.”
And as a couple, she and Daniele plan to hold weekly discussions on topics that can strengthen their relationship and help them better understand and live their roles as wife and husband.
Bringing scriptures to life
In implementing the home-centered study emphasis, the Salernos hope to bring the scriptures to life to help their daughters appreciate them and recognize the Spirit testifying of truths. To accommodate the children, they’ve decided to read shorter passages — rather than full chapters — daily from the Book of Mormon and to role-play scenes and stories.
“We want our children to understand the scriptures are meant to be applied to our lives so that we can draw nearer to God,” Daniele Salerno said.
Another home-centered approach the family has taken recently is memorizing a scripture verse each week, which the young girls see as a challenge. “Because they want to show they are capable of memorizing things, they give more heed,” he said. “And we have found that our time learning the gospel together is more meaningful this way.”
The home as the hub
As the new year approaches, the Salerno family looks forward to the opportunities and blessings of a new pattern of home study and discussion. In fact, they already have applied some of these practices.
When the parents sensed a need to teach 7-year-old Emma specific principles to help her be better equipped to make correct choices throughout her life, they prepared a month-long series of family home evenings on a specific topic.
That approach led to more purposeful family discussions and interactions as well as informal opportunities to reaffirm principles taught during the week. Also, Daniele Salerno said, family members felt closer with a strengthening of trust between one other.
“I feel that gospel study is home-centered when the home becomes the hub of all meaningful teaching and learning experiences,” he said. “To do this, as parents we feel the need to prayerfully develop a constant awareness of the spiritual needs of each of our children at different stages of their lives.”