“Sakiusa and Salote Maiwiriwiri—Suva, Fiji,” Ensign, October 2020
I could hardly believe the peace and happiness I found in the Maiwiriwiri home. Despite having two of their children pass away, they live their lives with joy and purpose every day.
Leslie Nilsson, Photographer
Two years after our son Esa died of lung cancer, our daughter Esalynn died of meningitis. In the temple, I felt a strong prompting to speak with a senior sister missionary there who also lost two children years earlier. She told me, “If you make your home a holy place, you can feel your children’s presence there.”
That has become our goal. Everything we do is to make our home a holy place. We want to feel them close.
We don’t know how to parent children beyond the veil. But if we do our best to live righteously, we believe they will feel our efforts. In our family devotionals, we welcome Esa and Esalynn by name.
In our home, even when we have a disagreement, we try to resolve it quickly. We want our home to stay a holy place as much as possible. As we’ve done so, we have all felt hope and healing and love.
The experience of losing Esa and Esalynn has ultimately brought our family closer together. We counsel together with our other children. We attend the temple as a family. We live our lives as simple as possible and choose gratitude every day. As we talk about what it means to be sealed as a family in the temple, that sealing becomes alive in us. And through all of this, we do feel the presence of our children.
One of the first things we did to make our home holier was to start reading the Book of Mormon daily. At first, we shared Book of Mormon stories with pictures for our younger children. Then we added videos. Now we’re reading more from the Book of Mormon. I can testify of the power of the Book of Mormon.
I can also testify of the power in the plan of salvation. When we planned the funerals for Esa and Esalynn, we decided against the elaborate funerals common in Fijian culture. Instead, my wife and I were the only ones to speak, and we spoke about the plan of salvation. Many of our extended family members have since joined the Church after hearing these truths from the funeral services.