About seven years ago, Sister Siphiwe Shongwe’s daughter, three grandchildren, and a friend of the grandchildren who often joined the family at church, were involved in a devastating car accident. All five occupants of the car died. As Sister Shongwe waded through her grief, she was able to find strength in the gospel and stayed true to its precepts. She shares here how attending the temple has helped her find strength and peace.
“When I first learnt about the church, I had no idea of a temple. At church, they always talked about it but there were no regular temple visits, because the closest temple was in South Africa, about a four-hour drive away. Two years later, a missionary couple from Utah took the initiative of taking members to the temple every fortnight. I was the first one to attend, along with the Relief Society President.
After my first temple visit, I was a little confused but at the same time I wanted to learn more. From that time the branch started to make regular visits to the temple and I always made sure I went along with the group.
As a single widowed mother, I learned that I could be sealed to my deceased spouse for time and eternity. That gave me peace and comfort and reminded me of what the missionaries had taught me -- that families can be together forever.
Being sealed to my deceased family members was one of the most memorable, comforting and peaceful experiences I have ever had.
Visiting the temple regularly has also helped motivate me to do family history work for my deceased family members. These things have strengthened my faith and given me a stronger testimony about our Heavenly Father and His compassionate love.
In another experience, while I was preparing for a temple trip in November 2014, I had a conversation with my daughter about also going to temple. She promised to go with me the following year as she was still preparing herself. At the temple I had a prayer in my heart for her to go to the house of God. I had no idea that the same month she would be involved in a fatal car accident.
Knowing that my daughter had the desire to go to the temple helped me and gave me strength. Even before my daughter and I discussed it, God knew that she wouldn’t go to the temple physically but by the spirit.
I know that temples give comfort and peace as we keep our Heavenly Father’s covenants, just as they did for Job of old. In the book of Alma, we read that the Saviour will ‘take upon Him their infirmities, that His bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh how to succor His people according to their infirmities.’
I am grateful for the temple, which prepares and strengthens us even before painful things happen in our lives and humble us to stay closer to our Father in Heaven.”