Women's Conference 2015: The Temple Changed Us Forever, by Cathi Maki
by Cathi Maki
This is an overwhelming experience, but as we all know, Renee has a way of talking you into things. When asked if I could tell you about our family's journey to the temple, I knew it wouldn't be an easy task as I tend to get a little emotional, so bear with me. But before I get ahead of myself, I will try to tell you our family story in a nutshell.
Dave and I both grew up in California with both our families attending a Lutheran church. Little did he know I told my parents in third grade that I was going to marry Dave Maki someday! Well, a lady gets what she wants, and here we are, thirty-seven years later. We did the best we could in raising three beautiful daughters with morals and values they could be proud of. We also raised them Lutheran because that’s all we knew.
But we soon found that there was more than being a Sunday Christian. It was about nineteen years ago when two of our daughters were in high school and one was in junior high when our lives began to change. Many of our daughter’s friends were LDS, and they enjoyed the friendships and we approved of the family values they held so high. Our middle daughter, Jileen, attended many church activities with her best friend who was LDS. Her father, who happened to be bishop, always managed to sit by me at football games and talk about church and how he thought our family would love to hear the gospel message. Jileen often asked if the missionaries could come over, but we never really made a commitment to listen.
It wasn’t until Mandi, our oldest started dating Josh, also an LDS member. Now remember, this is California, and LDS members don’t live next door, but somehow our girls were surrounded by them. Now that I look back I think it was all part of our journey and the path we were to take. Now we had concerns, our daughter was dating a MORMON. So as I sat next to this Bishop at the following games I began to ask a few more questions. To make a long story short, before we knew it, videos were at our door. We did watch them, and they made such an impact on us all. Our family being the most important thing to us, the message was we could have the chance to be together forever. Why wouldn’t we listen to this gospel message?
Before we knew it our discussions began with all the girls' friends and soon all their families. Our discussions grew from eight to twenty-five people. I think the word got out that I was serving dessert! The Spirit couldn’t have been stronger with everyone helping us out in understanding the gospel and its message. This is what we were missing: our lives were good but not complete. This was more than a Sunday religion--it was a faith that many believed in the gospel, lived it every day of their lives with a purpose of serving and becoming more Christlike. As a family we prayed, and we knew that this was the path we were to take. The spiritual influence had touched us all.
Several months later we were baptized by Josh, Mandi’s boyfriend, and the chapel filled to capacity. The overwhelming Spirit and blessings we felt that night will stay within us forever. Little did we know that our journey to the temple was just beginning! Three months later our family was asked to speak at stake conference. Not knowing what stake conference was, we said yes! That day as we gazed out over the endless rows of people, we looked at each other and said, “What were we thinking?”
The next year we faced the challenges of life with its ups and downs, being the only LDS members in the family. We knew our journey to the temple wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it. We knew that just being an example would be enough. A year after our baptism we were sealed in the temple. We were all overwhelmed at the realization of how greatly the Lord had blessed our family. As our daughters entered the sealing room dressed in all white, emotion overcame us all. It was as if we had stepped into Heaven. There was a feeling of peace, joy, and serenity. We knew that Heavenly Father was with us--we were now going to be together for time and all eternity. Josh took out his endowments the same day and soon left on his mission to Brazil.
Nineteen years have passed so quickly with blessings we never imagined. Our three daughters all graduated from BYU and then entered the temple with their spouses. What a blessing to see them kneel across the altar in the sealing room and marry for time and all eternity. And yes, Mandi and Josh did marry!
Now our family has made a full circle and we are blessed with thirteen grandchildren and counting (maybe) and the opportunity they have to be raised in the covenant. I can’t explain the joy in our hearts to watch our daughters raising their children with the gospel as their guide. It’s amazing to see the grandkids argue over who will say pray. Sometimes we have two or three prayers because everyone wants to say it.
I recently lost my dad, and the grandkids knew he was going to be with Heavenly Father. Not too long after, our grandkids were losing another great-grandfather and our son-in-law explained with emotion that he was going to be going to heaven soon. Our granddaughter Addison said, "It’s okay, Daddy, because now Great Papa will have a friend to play with." So innocent but knowing that Heavenly Father has a plan for us even at such a young age.
With the endless trips back and forth to BYU Provo, we came to love it here and made a decision as a family to be together in Utah. Five years ago Dave retired from a job of thirty-two years that kept him working on Sundays. We moved to Utah. Leaving behind our oldest daughter and our six grandchildren was the hardest thing we have ever done. Our hopes and prayers are that they will soon be with us.
Now for the first time since our baptism, Dave and I get to be a couple at church growing in the gospel. Dave was overwhelmed when our firstborn grandson asked if he would baptize him. When we asked Josh why he would give up such a treasured moment for himself, he said, "You blessed me, giving me the opportunity to baptize your family and marry your daughter. You deserve the blessings of baptizing your first grandson."
We have learned so much about the gospel, and every day we have more to learn, more blessings to testify to its truth. We are not perfect, but each day we try to live the gospel and be an example. I have learned a couple things: when your husband leans over in sacrament meeting he wants his back scratched! And it’s okay to be late because it’s Mormon standard time.
Our journey to the temple now gives us opportunities for our extended family. As we walked the grounds of the temple on our sealing day, we were unable to have our extended family with us as we are the only members on either side. I know now this was part of our journey. As difficult as it was at the time, we now can give them the opportunity doing their temple ordinances. Our journey is just beginning!
I lost my father several years ago and just recently lost my mom to cancer. Knowing that the chemo didn’t work and she had had enough, she wanted one thing, and that was to come to Utah to spend some time with us and the great-grandkids. We brought her here hoping to have her for the summer, but things didn’t quite work out that way. She was done and ready to be with my dad. My husband and sons-in-law were able to give her a blessing, and she was so touched. My husband felt prompted to ask her if she would mind if we did the work for my dad in the temple. She replied with, “I would love it.”
On July 31st, we lost my mom, and the one thing that got me through it was knowing that we can seal my parents together. August we will be blessed to have two of our grandsons old enough to do baptisms, and they will be able to share in that tender moment with us. We share in the joy of listening to our four-year-old grandson say his Articles of Faith, or five of our grandchildren with their arms folded, around a duck pond praying for the safe return of a little duckling to its mother.
At a parent-teacher conference, our oldest daughter found out that our shy eight-year-old grandson, when asked by his teacher what he is proud of, stood before his class and said, “I’m proud to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” bringing tears to his nonmember teacher's eyes as she told them the story.
Why do I tell you all this? Because this is where our journey to the temple has taken us. It has blessed us with endless joy and the chance to be with my family for all time and eternity. To watch our grandchildren grow in the gospel and someday enter those double doors to the temple with a worthy spouse and feel that same Spirit we felt on that day we entered as a family.
Has the gospel changed our lives? It has forever changed us, restoring our family, our faith, and knowing that we will be together forever. At the Brigham City temple, one of the apostles said in his introduction that “Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without his family.” Now we know what path we want to take and the gospel will lead us there.
As Jaron Packer wrote in the song sung by our young women today, “Though the path, though life’s raging sea may seem treacherous and grim, there is joy in the journey if we but look to Him. For there we’ll find our Captain, the chief cornerstone. He pleads, come Home."
If you are pondering and praying on whether to journey to the temple, I testify to you that our journey to the temple was worth it. We were never alone; we always had the Savior’s influence with us. The gospel changes lives, and the temple brings you closer to heaven and our Heavenly Father. Take the journey. I humbly say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.