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Students married in the temple during the pandemic emphasize importance of eternal marriage in hard times

Anne Tobon wearing a white wedding dress, flower haku in her hair and holding a green and white bouquet stands next to her newly married husband, Sam Tobon, wearing a suit and ti leaf lei standing together in front of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
The Tobons shared they are grateful for being able to be sealed in the temple.

Since the Laie Hawaii Temple partially opened on June 15, students once again can be married in the temple and said they learned to appreciate the real meaning behind a temple sealing.

Laie Hawaii Temple reopening

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temporarily closed all temples worldwide on March 25, 2020, due to the spread of the global pandemic, COVID-19, according to the Church Newsroom.

Since May 11, the Church Newsroom announced the Church is rolling out the phased reopening of temples. The Laie Hawaii Temple reopened on June 15, 2020, to Phase 1, which is open for living sealings only for previously endowed members. Since the temple has opened, students have been sealed together and said they were blessed for eternity.

Sabina Imangaziyeva Kumar, a junior from Kazakhstan majoring in accounting and finance, was sealed to her husband on July 10, 2020. She described how the temple reopening was unexpected and exciting.

“When I heard the Laie temple was open for live sealings, I was thrilled. We started the preparation and booked the temple. The reopening of the Laie temple is a blessing for many of us who want to get married in the temple for time and eternity.”

Samuel Tobon, a senior from Colombia, majoring in business management, married his wife on July 21, 2020, in the Laie Hawaii Temple. He said when he was married in the temple, he learned how they were following their first parents, Adam and Eve’s examples.

He said they became more connected to their family chain through their temple marriage. “I felt we were getting closer little by little to God’s presence when I got sealed.”

Samuel Tobon’s wife, Anne McCarrey Tobon, a senior from Laie majoring in anthropology, shared how she learned the importance of priesthood power when they got sealed.

“Eternal marriage is ordained of God, and through the Lord’s authority, our relationship will continue even after death.”

Malissa Kanani Aloha Seniloli, a senior from Tonga majoring in political science, married civilly on April 21 and got sealed on July 3, to her husband in the Laie Hawaii Temple. When the temple reopened, she said, “I felt blessed because I could finally be sealed to my husband for time and eternity.”

The Kumars stand newly married in a white wedding dress and suit holding a colorful flower bouquet in front of the Laie Hawaii Temple's visitor center and fountain.
Sabina Kumar shared the temple reopening was exciting and unexpected.

Blessings of marrying during a pandemic

Seniloli shared how getting married during the pandemic made things easier and simpler for her and her husband. “We love the idea of having just a few attendees at our wedding, which makes it even better,” Seniloli commented. “It makes you appreciate the real meaning behind a temple sealing.

“When a wedding is filled with worldly materials, there is a tendency to lose sight of what really matters.”

Kumar said marrying during the global pandemic was difficult because her family could not be a part of her special day. “However, Heavenly Father was with me and brought us to His holy house to accept this marriage.

“As I look through the eternal perspective, all worldly things don’t really matter. What matters most is eternal marriage in the temple.”

Kumar explained how marrying in a temple for time and all eternity was what she desired and strived for her whole life. She said she sees many blessings from her marriage.

“So far, we have been blessed to have the Lord’s spirit in our small home, hearts and everywhere we go,” Kumar commented. “We feel strong and feel protection from danger and temptations. We have been blessed with good campus jobs and all other necessities during this hard time.”

In his case, Samuel Tobon said getting married during the pandemic was stress-free.

“During a pandemic, we didn’t have to follow the world’s marriage norms. We don’t need to have large gatherings and throw big parties for our marriage. It took away a lot of pressure.”

He said the only downside of getting married during COVID-19 was his family being unable to attend because they are in different countries. “My in-laws were all here, so I really wished my family was here too. Even though we made some sacrifices, it feels good that we prioritized and followed Lord’s commandments.

“While dating, I had a fear that I may lose my girlfriend, but after we were sealed, I received absolute assurance that I will be with my wife for eternity. Our commitment to each other motivates us to press forward.”

Anne McCarrey Tobon said they both felt privileged and blessed that the temple reopened for their marriage, “but I feel that so many more souls are anxiously waiting for the temples’ reopening from the other side of the veil.”

The Senilolis stand together in white temple clothes in front of the Laie Hawaii Temple wearing traditional Tongan leis and mats with mother of pearl and other embroidery.
The Senilolis after their temple marriage almost three months after their civil marriage.

Phases of temple reopenings

Effective Sept. 14, out of the Church’s 168 operational temples worldwide, 144 will have entered Phase 1, with 89 in Phase 2. Temple worship in California and the Mexico City Temple have been paused. The First Presidency has not announced when the Laie Hawaii Temple will move to Phase 2. According to the Church News, four phases of temple reopening are outlined in a First Presidency letter released on May 7.

“Four phases of reopening of temples:

• Phase 1: Open for restricted living sealings only. Temple workers will perform living sealings only for previously endowed members under strict guidelines and safety precautions.

• Phase 2: Open for all living ordinances only. Temple workers will perform all temple ordinances for living individuals but will maintain closure of patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations.

• Phase 3: Open for all ordinances with restrictions. Temple workers will continue providing ordinances for living individuals and provide proxy ordinances for ancestors in a restricted manner. The Church will open patron housing, clothing, and cafeteria operations as needed.

• Phase 4: Open for full operations. The Church will resume regular temple operations.”

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