Forever and Three Days

By Rebecca Armstrong,

as told to Elyssa Renee Madsen

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    When we found the gospel, our little saying took on real meaning.For years my parents had closed letters to each other and to my sister and me with “Love for forever and three days.” It reflected our hope that we could be together forever. That hope became a reality when we were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple.

    It was 14 February when I knelt across the altar in the Mesa Arizona Temple with my sister, Jennifer; my dad; and my mom. I was 15 years old and had been a member of the Church for a year. What had been only a goal a year before was now a reality. We were about to be sealed as a family for time and eternity.

    Twenty-one years earlier, my parents, who were not yet members, married in a religious ceremony. The minister said the marriage was “until death do you part,” but my parents thought marriage should last forever. They signed letters to each other, and later to Jen and me, “Love for forever and three days.” It was their way of saying they hoped we would always be together.

    It wasn’t until my dad started having back problems that we met a member of the Church. A therapist who helped my dad with back exercises began talking to my parents about the gospel. Slowly, they became interested and asked to meet the missionaries.

    The first meeting we attended was a stake conference. Its theme was strengthening the family. For my mom, who had been searching for ways to make our family closer, the conference was an answer to prayer.

    My prayers were answered too. After the missionaries invited us to be baptized, I began praying to know if the Church was true. As I read in John 14:26–27 about having the Holy Ghost and not being afraid, I knew it was true.

    Into the Waters

    On 11 February 1996, my entire family was baptized. We had been attending the ward for only a few weeks, so we were shocked when dozens of people came to the baptism to show their support.

    My family made a goal to be sealed in the temple as soon as we could. We began preparing to attend the temple, focusing on our relationships with each other and with the Savior. Our relationship as a family became more spiritual as we studied the scriptures and prayed together.

    I tried to read everything the prophets had written about going to the temple. I also followed my Young Women leader’s suggestion and began saying “thank you” prayers. Instead of just asking Heavenly Father for things I wanted, I concentrated on thanking Him.

    Into the Temple

    On the day of our sealing, we awoke excited. Today was the day! When we arrived at the temple, Jen and I walked around outside while my parents received their endowments. The weather was perfect. It was as if the flowers had bloomed for us.

    Finally it was time for Jen and me, dressed in white, to join our parents in the sealing room. I remember being struck by how bright and pure and beautiful everything looked. As we knelt at the altar, I glanced in the mirrors and saw images of our family extending endlessly. I felt the Spirit bear witness that our family could be together forever.

    When we walked outside after the sealing, we were again surprised at the number of people who had come to support us.

    It wasn’t until a few days later that we realized we had been sealed exactly a year and three days after our baptism. Suddenly my parents’ signature, “Love for forever and three days,” took on a whole new meaning. Their wish had come true—we could now be a forever family.

    Photograph by Welden C. Andersen

    Illustrated by Greg Newbold; photograph courtesy of the family