Before we went to the temple, it was like we had cut an apple and it was apart. But then when we went through the temple, it was like the apple went together.”
That’s how nine-year-old Amanda Baum described her family after they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple last February. She said that they are closer now because they talk with one another and share their feelings more than they did before. Her parents agreed, saying that their home is more peaceful and that the children seem more special to them now.
For a long time the Baum family—Brandon (12), Amanda (9), Laura Lee (7), James (3), and their parents, Terry and Karla—had been working on their goal of going to the temple to be sealed. It wasn’t an easy goal, but something happened that made them realize just how important that goal was.
Sister Baum was going to have twins, and the family was eagerly awaiting their birth. But when the tiny boys were born, they weren’t very strong. One died right after birth, and the doctors and family didn’t expect two-pound James to live either. A priesthood blessing, however, and lots of prayers helped him survive.
Although it was a sad and difficult time for the family, when they learned that they could have their little brother who had died sealed to them forever, their goal to go to the temple grew stronger.
Preparing for the special day meant that they had to start doing things like praying more, both individually and as a family, and paying their tithing. Now prayers are a very important part of their day, and the children are usually the first to volunteer for family prayers. Another big help was the encouragement that they received from their bishop and home teachers.
Besides bringing their family closer together, going to the temple has also given the Baums opportunities to do missionary work. Their grandfather, James Larkin, is a guide on Temple Square, so about a week before they went to the temple, the Baums invited all their aunts, uncles, and cousins who were not members of the Church to a special family home evening tour of Temple Square. Their relatives were able to learn more about the Church and to feel that they were a part of the Baums’ special occasion. Four of the families bought family home evening manuals that night.
Brandon, Amanda, and Laura Lee try to be good examples for their relatives; they are aware that they are being watched now to see if they are doing the things that the Church teaches. They are hopeful that someday their relatives, too, will join the Church.
Since the children needed to be excused from school to go to the temple, some of their teachers and classmates were curious about where they were going. Amanda and Laura Lee were able to explain to their classes the purpose of temples and how families can be together forever.
Brandon admitted that at first he was a bit nervous when the day finally came to go to the temple, but they all agreed that they felt a loving spirit and were very happy to be there.
In order to have Jason, the little brother who died, sealed to them, Brother Baum’s Uncle Bud from Arizona acted as proxy, or substitute, for him. The children said that when they were being sealed, it felt as if Jason was there instead of their uncle. Before they went to the temple, the children always asked why Jason had to die. Sister Baum said that they don’t ask anymore, because they know that someday they can be with him again.
Brandon has been able to go back to the temple with his ward to do baptisms for the dead, and he is hoping to be able to go again to be baptized for a great-uncle who died. Three-year-old James, who loves to see the Moroni statue on top of the temple, is looking forward to going again when he’s “big like Dad.” The three older children have already set goals of going on missions and being married in the temple.
It is hard to imagine how something can go on forever and ever, but Brandon said that as he looked into mirrors in the sealing room, he saw his family reflected there in a never-ending line for as far back as he could see. That gave him some idea of what eternity is all about.