When Tyson started going to church on his own, he never dreamed it would lead to this.
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Seventeen-year-old Tyson Henrie’s heart skipped a beat when an elderly woman called him and his younger siblings out of the youth waiting room. It was time.
He straightened his white shirt and tie as he and his brother and sister, also clad in white, quietly followed their escort through the hallway of the Salt Lake Temple. Looking sideways at Dustin and Sharee, he could tell they were as excited and nervous as he was.
When they arrived at the sealing room and its white doors were opened, Tyson was unprepared for what he felt. “The Spirit was so overwhelming that we all started crying as soon as we looked into the room,” he says. There, kneeling at an altar in the beautiful room, were his parents, smiling at him and his brother and sister. When Tyson started going to church on his own three years before, he never dreamed it would lead to this.
The power of example
“My family wasn’t active, but my really good friends got me to start going to church,” he remembers. “I was interested in knowing more about the Church. I kept going because I liked the teachings and the Spirit that was there and the people.”
While he enjoyed church, Tyson soon found himself wishing his family were there with him. “It didn’t really bother me being there alone at first, but then I started wanting my family to be with me. I wanted them to feel the happiness I felt.”
Tyson didn’t have to wait long for his prayers to be answered. Following her older brother’s example, Sharee, now 14, started to go to church with him. “I just knew that was what I needed to do,” she says. Like Tyson, Sharee quickly made close friends at church.
As time went on, Tyson received the Aaronic Priesthood and developed a desire to serve a mission. He and Sharee both set goals to be married in the temple. Sister Kerri Henrie says that when the teens shared these goals with her, “I started to think, I’m not going to be a part of that if I don’t make some changes. And it didn’t feel right sitting at home on Sundays while our kids went off to church. So I said to my husband, Brian, ‘Why don’t we try going?’”
Soon the entire Henrie family was attending church together. “The ward was so wonderful,” says Kerri. “Everybody welcomed us and really made us feel a part of it.”
Two years after he started to go to church on his own, Tyson was finally able to attend church with his whole family. “It felt great!” he says. “Things started changing. We started reading the scriptures as a family and having family home evening.”
Dustin, 15, who was reluctant to go to church at first, also began to notice changes in the family. “Sundays became a family day. We were spending more time together and feeling the Spirit together, so our family became a lot more open with each other and we could talk about more things,” he says.
With the increased closeness in the family came an increased desire to become an eternal family, and a goal was set to be sealed in the temple. “I was excited because I knew I wanted to be with my family forever,” says Tyson. “I was scared in a way, too, because it was coming up fast and I didn’t know if I had done everything I could to be ready.”
Along with their parents, Tyson, Dustin, and Sharee began praying and studying the scriptures even more earnestly, at home, church, and seminary. “I didn’t want to go to the temple not having a testimony, so I put forth more effort,” says Dustin. “Wanting to be ready helped me want to go to church more and read the scriptures more.”
The Henries also began paying a full tithing. “It was hard at first, but I did it because it was right and because I wanted to be ready to go to the temple,” says Dustin.
An eternal family
When the day of the sealing arrived, the Henries knew they were prepared. “I had been scared because I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know if I was ready. But I asked Heavenly Father to help me understand, and I felt an answer that it was the right thing to do and that our family was ready to go to the temple,” says Sharee.
After entering the sealing room, Tyson, Dustin, and Sharee knelt beside their parents at the altar. As they listened to the beautiful words of the sealing ceremony, “we could feel the Spirit so strongly that it made us all cry,” says Dustin.
Tyson remembers, “That was the strongest I’ve ever felt the Spirit. You could just feel it bonding us all together.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Henries stood and looked into one of the two mirrors that hung on the walls on either side of the altar. The double mirrors made the family’s reflection repeat itself into infinity. “The sealer told us, ‘This is how long your family is going to be together,’” says Sharee.
“I remember looking at my mom and dad and brother and sister and just being so happy that I’ll be able to be with them forever,” says Dustin.
After experiencing the sealing ceremony, all three of the Henrie children say they can’t imagine starting their own future families any other way.
“It’s different now”
It’s now been several months since the Henries were sealed as an eternal family. But the feelings they experienced in the temple have continued to be an influence in their home.
“It’s different now that we’ve been sealed and have the Church in our lives,” says Tyson. “Things seem so much happier, and there’s so much more love.”
Sharee agrees. “It feels like the Spirit’s more uplifting; the house just seems brighter. I always see how happy my parents are together, and it makes me feel happy to know that my family’s together forever.”
And Dustin says his experience in the temple has given him both a strong testimony and a desire to be active in the Church.
To those young people preparing to go to the temple, whether it’s to do baptisms for the dead, to receive their own endowment, or to be sealed to their family or spouse, Dustin says, “Try your hardest to get to the temple because it will probably be the neatest experience you’ll ever have. You’ll feel the Spirit so strong that you’ll never forget the feeling because you like it so much.”