“Forty-four Friends in the Temple,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 58–59
When my friend Patricio Ávila went to the Santiago Chile Temple for the first time, he had an experience that changed his life and eventually blessed the lives of many members of the former Obrador Branch, Mendoza Argentina Stake. While sitting in the temple, he very distinctly visualized brothers and sisters from his branch sitting together in the Santiago temple, the closest temple to our stake.
When he returned to Mendoza, the picture of everyone together in the temple stayed with him. Exercising faith, he shared his dream with fellow branch members. Some of the members smiled indulgently or made indifferent comments. But some of us became serious about preparing to go to the temple.
Under the direction of our branch president, Brother Ávila went to work right away to help us. First he discussed with us our temple goals, and he started a fund to help members with travel costs. Then he arranged for temple preparation classes so that everyone would be spiritually prepared. Thanks to his attention and drive, our enthusiasm grew.
Several months passed, and Brother Ávila kept us going. At last the temple preparation classes entered their final phase, and those of us who were ready had temple recommend interviews. We organized a three-day trip and set a departure date.
We had one last obstacle: the cost of chartering a bus. To meet it, we needed to sell fifty-eight fares—and with only three weeks to go, we had sold only forty-four fares. Unless we sold the remaining fares, the individual cost of each ticket would increase, and some people wouldn’t be able to go.
But Brother Ávila’s faith didn’t waver. If he couldn’t fill the bus with branch members, he would invite Church members from other wards of the Mendoza stake to join us. Interested people quickly came forward, and the unsold seats were soon gone.
At the last minute we realized that three families had prepared for the trip but could not pay the full cost. Thankfully, the money we had donated at our early meetings settled the balance. All those prepared were finally able to go to the temple.
On the eve of our journey, the whole group met for a special family home evening at the meetinghouse. The next morning we left early. As we traveled, everyone was filled with the spirit of love and unity.
How our hearts leaped with joy when we saw the statue of the angel Moroni on the temple’s spire! Next came the sublime moment when we actually entered the house of the Lord. We had never experienced anything so deeply sacred. We made ready for the special temple session that had been prepared.
As we proceeded through the various ordinances, we finally understood what other endowed Church members at home had been telling us. And they were right when they said that once we were inside the temple, we would never want to leave.
The sessions were indeed occasions of great rejoicing and spirituality as our whole group met in the house of the Lord. We felt that Father in Heaven was pleased with our service as we performed the sacred ordinances first for ourselves, then for the dead.
On the way home, our bus reverberated with the hymns of Zion.