She Went to the Temple
July 1984

“She Went to the Temple,” Ensign, July 1984, 38–39

She Went to the Temple

Guillermina Juarez Martinez wanted to go to the temple for her own endowment. She was twenty-four years old, unmarried, and dying. She had a progressive disease of the blood, one so rare there is no name for it. The disease takes most people before the age of eighteen, but Guillermina had fought for her life six years beyond that.

“I don’t want to die and have a stranger do my temple work for me. I want to go and do my own,” she said. When her stake president, Guillermo Torres Villalobos, heard of her desire to go to the temple, he told her that he would give her a recommend.

Just the possibility of going brought improvement. The doctors watched her progress and shook their heads in disbelief. They could find no reason why she had improved, so they declined to grant permission for her to travel to the temple.

The Mexico City North Stake’s bus was leaving for the Arizona Temple the last week in July 1973. Guillermina continued praying and sent her relatives to prepare her papers to leave Mexico. On the day of departure, she was still in the hospital. Determined not to lose this only opportunity to do her own temple work, Guillermina placed even greater faith in the Lord and asked the doctors one more time for permission to go. They granted permission on condition that she release them from responsibility. She accepted, but refused their orders to go by plane. She wanted the companionship of the Saints.

She took a special bed that fit onto the back seat of the bus, a first-aid kit, an oxygen tank, and a mask. A doctor, a nurse, and her mother went with her.

On the way, she joined the others in singing, telling jokes, and watching the little children play. She felt their spirit and was happy to be there. Her seemingly impossible goal was only miles away from fulfillment.

Near the United States-Mexican border at Nogales, the bus’s air conditioner broke down. Soon afterward, Guillermina grew weaker, then stopped breathing. Women began weeping for her and praying that she would live to go through the temple. The doctor found a faint heartbeat. The three bishops on the bus anointed her and gave her a blessing for her life. Suddenly she revived.

When the bus arrived in Mesa, doctors checked her and recommended that she go to only one temple session. They did not expect her to live longer than that. But the impossible dream was close enough to be fulfilled the next morning.

As Guillermina, dressed all in white, her face glowing, entered the temple, a change came over her. She was alert and active as the session progressed. Conquering all obstacles, she was now able to do with her own spent, ill body what she did not want another person to do for her.

Everyone in the temple session watched her carefully. Though she was exhausted after the first session, she was so overjoyed that she begged to be allowed to go through another session. Doctors checked her and permitted her to participate again. This procedure was repeated after every session for the next three days. She never missed a session—nine sessions in all.

To the surprise of everyone, Guillermina’s health did not deteriorate. Instead of gradually dying, she was gaining renewed life.

Returning to Mexico City, Guillermina went immediately to the military hospital as she had promised. There the doctors shook their heads in disbelief. Her health had improved so much that after two days she was released to begin a relatively normal life at home.

Fortified by her covenants with the Lord, she found the strength to teach a Primary class and to participate with other young women in Church activities. The disease could take her life any day, but she feels prepared to die. And she steadfastly maintains her faith in the Lord’s great wisdom and his infinite concern for his children.

  • Mari Vawn Owen, a writer and mother of five, is a visiting teacher.

Illustrated by Jerry Thompson