When I was a young boy, Grandpa Gonzalez was one of my best friends. I used to love waiting for him to drive past our house on his way home from work. He would honk and wave, and I would cross the street, run up the alley, dart through his back gate, and race him to his house around the corner. As he slowly turned into his driveway, I would be awaiting him breathlessly and would proudly announce that I had won our race again. Often during those wonderful evenings with Grandpa, I would ask him to tell me missionary stories.
Grandpa had served in Mexico City from 1910 to 1912, during the Mexican Revolution, and he planted a powerful desire in my heart to become a great missionary just like him. He explained that missionaries help Heavenly Father with his great work in “[bringing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
The Doctrine and Covenants, which we will be studying in Sunday School this year, amplifies our understanding of many of the doctrines and commandments that will help us gain this eternal life of which our missionaries preach. In this great book of scripture the Savior tells us, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
To receive this blessing of exaltation, a temple sealing is essential:
“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it” (D&C 131:1–3).
Grandpa told me that he loved to explain to the people of Mexico how the promises of salvation could now be fulfilled and how families could be together forever because of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon. The Doctrine and Covenants states:
“For this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;
“And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved” (D&C 3:19–20).
The faithful Saints in Mexico yearned to go to the temple so they could be with their families forever. But because there were no temples in their country for many years, some of these Saints sacrificed greatly to travel hundreds of miles to the Mesa Arizona Temple. My grandparents were thrilled every time a family would visit them in El Paso, Texas, on their way to Mesa to be married or sealed to loved ones. Grandpa had taught and baptized some of these people in and around Mexico City. He and Grandma often provided a soft bed and a hot meal to help them along their journey.
One day while I was sitting on the curb waiting for Grandpa to pass by, a sputtering, coughing, smoking bucket of bolts broke down right in front of our house. A frantic father lifted the hood, and billows of smoke poured from the engine. The mother and children got out of the car and began sobbing. I couldn’t understand Spanish, but I caught the word templo. Just then Grandpa arrived and began reassuring them in their native tongue not to worry. I later learned that they had no money for an engine replacement, but Grandpa reassured them that the Lord was mindful of their predicament.
We all piled into his car and drove around the corner to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where our guests stayed for nearly a week while Grandpa had a rebuilt engine installed. Then, after many abrazos y besos (hugs and kisses), my grandmother gave them a basket of food and they climbed into their vehicle, waved good-bye, and continued their trek toward the temple.
In 1983 the Mexico City Mexico Temple was dedicated, eliminating the long, expensive excursions to Arizona. Today there are 12 temples located all over Mexico, making it easier for families to feel the joy of being sealed in the house of the Lord.
Every time I see a happy family walking up the temple steps in Mexico City, I think of a broken-down car, a heartbroken family, and almost broke grandparents who did their part long ago to help a determined family become an eternal family. I am so grateful for temples, for missionary work, and for latter-day scriptures, including the Doctrine and Covenants, which help us understand what we must do to gain eternal life and dwell with our families forever with our Father in Heaven.