The raspberries were red, ripe, and juicy. Whitney had never seen quite so many. Mom had bought several large containers when they were on sale, and now she wanted Whitney to help her make jam. Whitney loved jam on toast in the mornings or on hot rolls when they came out of the oven. Her mouth watered at the thought of the treat.
Mom lifted a sack of sugar out of the storage bucket. “Start putting the raspberries in the strainer,” she instructed. “Then run them under the water in the sink until they’re clean. Be sure to pick out any bits of leaves you find.”
Whitney filled the strainer, cleaned the berries, and dumped them into a big bowl. She refilled the strainer and went through the process again and again. It hardly felt like work to her.
After Mom finished measuring the sugar, she took lots of clean jars out of the dishwasher and stacked them on the countertop. Once the dishwasher was empty, she pulled several more jars out of a cardboard box and placed them in the dishwasher.
“Why are you doing that?” Whitney asked. “They don’t look dirty to me.”
“Some of the jars have been sitting on the shelf downstairs for a while. I just want to make sure that they are all clean before we fill them with jam.”
Mom and Whitney worked together for several hours before Dad and Wendee, Whitney’s sister, came home. “Put on some aprons and come give us a hand,” Mom called to them. Dad started mashing up the last of the berries while Wendee began labeling the finished jars.
“Honey, before you put away those jars, make sure all the lids are sealed,” Mom said to Wendee.
Whitney stopped stirring and laughed. “Sealed?” she asked. “Are they getting married or something?”
Now Dad, Mom, and Wendee laughed.
“Well,” Whitney said defensively, “Mom told you to make sure the lids are sealed. So what are you going to do? Take them to the temple?”
Wendee picked up a jar and showed her younger sister the lid. “See, the lid has to seal to the jar so the jam won’t spoil. If the lid doesn’t seal, the jam won’t last. We’re not talking about the temple.”
“Well,” Dad said, “maybe we are. Think about it—isn’t it the same with families? The ones sealed in the temple by priesthood authority can last forever. Those that aren’t sealed aren’t going to last.”
“Keep mashing the rest of those berries while you preach your sermon,” Mom said as she started spooning finished jam into the jars. Whitney reached out to steady the jars while Mom worked.
“I thought getting sealed just meant getting married,” Whitney said.
“Not exactly,” Mom explained. “A man and a woman can get married anywhere, but when they marry outside of the temple, it’s only for this life. Couples married, or sealed, in the temple can be married forever.”
“Now who’s preaching?” Dad asked with a smile.
“Sealed means linked together or hard to break apart,” Mom explained. “When you get married in the temple, you are linked eternally to your spouse and your children. We seal the lids to preserve the jam. Being sealed in the temple preserves families.”
“These berries are all mashed. What’s next?” Dad asked.
“Just take those last few jars out of the dishwasher.”
“I feel another lesson coming on,” Dad said. “See, Mom cleaned the jars before she filled them with jam. Sealing jam in a dirty jar would not work. It’s the same way with the temple. We have to be clean and worthy to enter the temple. That’s the only way the sealing counts.”
“I’m impressed,” Wendee said. “Dad, you’re pretty good.”
“So is this jam,” Mom said. “Now, who wants some before we put it all away?”
Over the next few weeks, everyone in the family enjoyed the jam. Whitney liked it best of all.
One Sunday Sister Garcia assigned Whitney to give a talk in Primary the following week. Whitney didn’t usually like giving talks because she never knew what to say. But this time was different. Whitney could hardly wait to get home and begin writing.
“What are you supposed to talk about?” Wendee asked on the way home from church.
“Well,” Whitney said, “Sister Garcia said the theme should be ‘families are forever.’ The way I look at it, forever families are a lot like making raspberry jam!”
“With the Lord, families are essential. … He provides temples so that families can be together forever.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “‘Set in Order Thy House,’” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 69.