The Eternal Road Trip

By Lisa A. Johnson

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    To get to the temple, they had to cross an ocean and three countries.

    Take eight lively people. Mix them in a small van for forty hours. Add mechanical failure, rain, car sickness, and seasickness. What do you get? “Heaven,” according to the Marrero family.

    “It was the most spiritual experience of my life,” said Raquel, age fifteen, of her family’s trip to the temple to be sealed together for time and eternity.

    For many people, a temple trip isn’t quite the sacrifice that it was for the Marreros. They live on the island of Tenerife, which is one of Spain’s Canary Islands, located about fifty miles off the coast of Morocco. When they were finally prepared to go to the temple, the nearest one open was in Germany, so that’s where they headed, crossing the ocean and passing through three countries to get there.

    The cost of plane fare would have been outrageous for the family that consists of Luci, 7; Fabio, 9; Oliver, 11; Raquel, 15; Desiree, 17; Oscar, 19; and parents Miguel and Angela. As it was, they had to work for two years, Miguel doing carpentry and the rest of the family taking on odd jobs, to earn the money to travel the way they did.

    The way they traveled was in a furgón, or van, that Miguel had converted into a camper with two beds. They began by driving the furgón onto a ferry and traveling by water five-hundred miles to Spain.

    “We all got seasick,” said Raquel. “We were glad to see dry land again.”

    But that was only the beginning of the journey. Ahead were hours and hours of driving through Spain, France, and Germany and sleeping under the stars at night. “To pass the time, we’d honk and wave at others with Spanish license plates,” said Desiree. “And we sang every hymn and Spanish song we knew—many times over.”

    “Dad drove and fixed the car,” added Raquel. They had electrical problems, among other things, which made it difficult to drive at night without stopping every few minutes to fix the headlights. Finally, when they made it to Frankfurt, they pulled over and waited for dawn, so they could drive undistracted to the temple in the light.

    Well, almost undistracted. It seems the temple is located in Friedrichsdorf, outside of Frankfurt, and with their limited German, the Marreros couldn’t find it. They finally hired a Spanish-speaking cab driver to show them the way.

    “When at last we saw the angel Moroni on top, it was such a joy,” said Raquel. “It was beautiful—even more beautiful because we’d suffered so much to get there.”

    Oh, and what things they experienced inside! “It was so wonderful when we were sealed—everyone in white, even the little ones, looking so beautiful,” said Desiree. “Now we know that we can be together forever with the ones we love.”

    The Marreros spent about four days at the temple, the parents doing sealings, the older children doing baptisms for the dead. When the time came to leave, they were reluctant to go, especially since they knew all about the tedious road trip that lay ahead.

    But their lives had changed in those four days. “We didn’t quarrel as much,” Raquel noted. “We knew we were an eternal family.”

    “The trip was a lot like life, really,” observed Desiree. “You go through some tough times, and you work really hard, but it is worth it when you make it to the celestial kingdom. We made a lot of sacrifices so that everyone could arrive together.”

    If You’re Going to the Temple

    A temple trip requires lots of preparation. If you will be visiting the temple, either to do baptisms for the dead or to be sealed to your family, here are a few things you should know:

    • If you’re over 12 but under 18, you must have a special “limited use” temple recommend. This requires an individual interview with your bishop. Boys must hold the Aaronic Priesthood.

    • Call the temple ahead of time and schedule the work you’ll be doing.

    • You should go to the temple wearing your Sunday best. Inside the temple you will be provided with special white clothes.

    • Remember that this trip can be one of the most important spiritual events of your life. Prepare as far in advance as possible by living the commandments, praying, studying the scriptures, and living and loving the way you think a celestial family would.

    Photograph by Lisa A. Johnson

    Photograph by Peggy Jellinghausen