If I had a time machine, perhaps we could journey back in time to 1972 in New Zealand. It was the year Nike running shoes first appeared on the market which almost makes me feel old. I had just completed high school and had a job working for a mining company analyzing rock samples to ascertain their mineral content. Most of what I earned went into a savings account for the mission I was preparing to serve. Fast forward three years and it is 1975, the VCR has just been invented and I had completed an honorable mission in the France Belgium mission and was now looking forward to my next 'mission' which was taking my fiancée to the temple to be sealed to her for time and all eternity by proper priesthood authority.
It was an exciting time as Sister Ardern and I prepared to marry. Together we planned and worked steadily as money needed to be saved so we could have an apartment after we were married. Wedding rings had to be chosen, invitations made and mailed and in the midst of it I was preparing to attend university so I could be a teacher. When we look back on those days they are an adventure like no other.
The crowning jewel of our preparation was to be able to be sealed to one another in the temple. I can easily recall kneeing at the altar in a sealing room of the New Zealand temple. With a few simple words and the promise of eternal blessings predicated upon our obedience, I received Sister Ardern to be my eternal companion.
Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president said, “We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married. … We know that in the great premortal conflict we sided with our Savior, Jesus Christ, to preserve our potential to belong to eternal families” (Ensign, Nov. 2007). Young men of proper age and maturity have a responsibility to step forward to invite young women to join with them in wholesome activities so that relationships can be formed with a view to marriage.
Marriage is an important and an essential step in our eternal progression. It is one of the most important decisions of your mortal life. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught us that, 'Marriage is the most trusting step in any human relationship. It is a real act of faith. The very nature of the endeavor requires that you hold onto each other as tightly as you can and jump.'
Forty years on, I now look out of my office window in Manila and see beautiful brides and handsome grooms, arm in arm exiting the doors of the sacred temple and stepping out into the world. They are holding on tightly to each other and have taken the jump. They know there will be demanding times ahead for them, just as there were for Sister Ardern and me, but with confidence they face them together with the Lord.
Recently I received a letter from Emerson B. Golipardo from Roxas 1st ward, in the Roxas Philippines Stake who recently married the love of his life. He wrote, 'Marriage, school and work can be done! I am doing it right now, and I can see the hand of the Lord helping us everyday of our lives. There is always food on our table, we have enough money to use and are in good health.'
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and has been since the beginning of time. I encourage you, regardless of your current circumstances, to put your life in order, both temporarily and spiritually, so that you will be ready and worthy at the proper time to enter the temple to receive the blessings of the ordinances of the temple and especially that of being sealed to your spouse.
Know you are loved by many.
Elder Ian S. Ardern