Just a few kilometers from the Padilla family’s home, the Urdaneta Philippines Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon be dedicated — meaning the family’s travel to the house of the Lord will be only five minutes rather than three to four hours to the Manila temple.
Amulek Nephi Padilla and his three siblings can hardly contain their excitement.
“Every time we go to the Manila temple, I really feel the Spirit,” said 14-year-old Amulek, a member of the Villasis Ward, Urdaneta Philippines Stake. “It’s good to know that every time I have a stressful day at school or have a bad day, I can go to the temple just five minutes away. It’s heartwarming.”
It will be a significant event for Crisanta and Anatolin Padilla and their children not only because the temple is close to home, but also because all four children — ages 11 to 17 — will have the opportunity to participate in the sacred ordinances.
“This year is definitely going to be an unforgettable one for our family,” said Crisanta Estayo Padilla, who serves with her husband as a Welfare and Self-Reliance Services missionary and an in-area advisory couple for For the Strength of Youth conferences.
Donning matching T-shirts with the words “Family Matters: For Time and All Eternity,” the Padilla family spoke to the Church News via Zoom about some of the ways they are preparing to attend the Urdaneta temple together.
Seminary, the Book of Mormon
For 17-year-old Cerah Hennah Padilla, “preparation is really important,” she said. “I’m preparing my mind, body and spirit.” Participating in seminary and studying the Book of Mormon this year is helping her do that.
She set a goal as part of the Children and Youth program to finish the Book of Mormon. As she looks forward to turning 18 this year, she highlighted an important skill she has learned in the youth organization.
“What I’ve learned is balance,” she said. “Balancing the intellectual, spiritual, physical parts of our lives is really important. It’s also really good preparation for going to the temple.”
‘For the Strength of Youth’ guide, family history
One resource Ammon Jarom Padilla, 16, has been using to prepare for the temple is the “For the Strength of Youth” guide.
“My favorite thing about it is that after reading the topic it will ask you a certain question. It will make you ponder and really help you a lot with what you’re doing,” he said, adding that the temple recommend questions at the end of each section help him know what to focus on.
Ammon has also been participating in family history. He recently reviewed 1,000 names on FamilySearch’s Get Involved app, which allows users to verify and correct names indexed by artificial intelligence.
“It’s the best,” he said of Get Involved. “You can do it in your free time.”
Inviting friends, being a disciple of Christ
The construction of the Urdaneta temple has given Amulek Nephi Padilla, 14, an opportunity to answer questions from friends. “The temple is really unique in comparison to most buildings surrounding it, so my classmates all the time keep asking, ‘Is that your church?’ ‘What is that …?’
“It’s actually a good opportunity for me to be able to invite them [to the open house],” Amulek said. “They are really interested and that makes them more curious, so we keep inviting them.”
“It’s like actually trying to become like Jesus Christ. … It’s not just people saying, ‘Oh, I read the scriptures all the time. I go to church every Sunday.’ It’s actually putting your path in God’s path. I think, in general, being on the covenant path is being a disciple of Christ,” he said.
Asking questions about the temple
With her new limited-use temple recommend, Czerinah Ellah Padilla, who is turning 12 this year, is elated to join her family inside the temple.
“I can finally experience baptisms for the dead,” she said with a beaming smile. “I’ve never experienced it before. My brothers and sister keep hyping it up.”
To prepare for her first-time temple experience, she has been reading the scriptures and doing family history. “I also ask my parents lots and lots and lots of questions,” she said, emphasizing “lots.”
“We want our children to strengthen their own testimonies. ... When they have their own families, we want them to bring their own families inside the house of the Lord. So this is a great opportunity for us to experience this as a family and go inside the temple,” he said.
Crisanta Estayo Padilla added: “As a mother, my role is to nurture them and help them progress on the covenant path. We feel so privileged to raise such valiant children. … We are far from perfect, but we know that we are doing our best.”