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Not sure how to explain to your children what happens in the temple? These insights from Sister Aburto can help


This excerpt is adapted from Reaching for the Savior available now for preorder at DeseretBook.com.

Some years ago, my husband Carlos and I were called to teach the temple preparation course in our ward. As part of our calling, our bishop asked us to teach the seventeen-year-old young women and young men about preparing to enter the temple. As we. introduced the first lesson to our eager students, we mentioned to them that in the temple we learn about the great plan of salvation. One of the young men, with a look of relief on his face, exclaimed, “Really?! Is that what we learn in the temple? That makes me feel so much better!”

His reaction made a deep impression on me, and made me wonder, did Carlos and I ever tell our children that in the temple we learn about the plan of salvation? I honestly could not remember what we told them and what we did not tell them about the temple. But I knew for sure that we probably did not tell them enough, and I wished I had a second chance. Then I remembered: Wait a minute! I do have a second chance! In His infinite mercy, the Lord is constantly giving us second chances! I will have a second chance and a third chance, and many other chances, with each of my grandchildren! What is more amazing is that I constantly have new chances not only with my family but also with “the rising generation,”1 with any young person in my sphere of influence.

More recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Paris France Temple with my family. In the temple visitors’ center, we were welcomed by missionaries. Among other things, they showed us a beautiful scale model of the temple and gave the same overview that they give to all visitors, including those who are not of our faith. In a simple yet powerful and profound way, they told us about the different rooms in the temple and what happens inside each of them.

Without using the exact words spoken in the temple and without. revealing any of the sacred information that we who have been endowed in the temple have promised not to disclose, those missionaries gave us a magnificent and comprehensive summary of the enlightening and empowering things we do within its walls. Among other insights, they told us that the temple is a place where we learn that God has a plan and that we are part of that plan. They also told us that in the house of the Lord we make specific promises to keep God’s laws and to strive to become like Him. They beautifully described the joy we can feel if we keep those promises. They also mentioned that Heavenly Father promises us His blessings in return and that He always keeps His promises.

Once again, I asked myself, Why has it never occurred to me to teach my children about the temple in a similarly profound and simple way? Why have I denied my children the blessing of hearing more from me the wonderful truths I have learned and the important promises I have made with God in His house through the years?

Considering our prophet’s emphasis on making the home even more the center of teaching, learning, studying, and living the gospel of Jesus Christ, I wonder if we could share more insights about the temple with the rising generation and with our loved ones during those holy conversations we have around our sacred dinner table or when we are ministering to each other.

► You may also like: 5 tips to help your child have a meaningful first temple visit

I am not implying that we should speak lightly and carelessly about the temple. However, I feel that if we follow the Spirit, if we do not quote the exact words used in the temple, if we do not disclose the information that we have covenanted not to, and if we take into account the heart and the intentions of those with whom we are interacting, we could probably help them be better prepared for when their time comes to make covenants with the Lord in His sacred temple.

So, what would I tell them? Without dumping a lot of information at once, and depending on their understanding, I could probably tell them the following, among other things:

  • The temple is a place where we prepare ourselves to be back in the presence of God.
  • In the temple we learn about the plan of salvation and the divine mission of Jesus Christ in that plan.
  • In the temple we participate in ordinances, both for ourselves and for our ancestors.
  • To prepare ourselves for higher promises and blessings in the temple, we are symbolically cleansed from sin. We are then anointed on the head with oil and blessed to become more like God and Jesus Christ. This ceremony is symbolic of the washing and anointing of Aaron and his sons as described in the Bible.
  • Part of the instruction we receive in the temple is done through a film and audio recording. We are taught about the creation of the earth, the role of the Savior, Adam and Eve, the Fall, and how God’s plan redeems us from the Fall because of Christ’s sacrifice. We also learn about the promises we will make with God:

    • We promise to obey all of God’s commandments that we learn from the scriptures and prophets.

    • • We promise God that we will sacrifice our own will for His. Sacrificing in this way reminds us of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us.

    • • We promise to strive to live as Jesus did by focusing on holy and pure practices. We promise to speak respectfully of the Lord’s servants and not to make light of sacred things, use offensive humor, or use God’s name inappropriately.

    • • We promise to have no sexual relations before marriage, and to be completely faithful to our spouse once married.

    • • We promise to be willing to give everything we have—or will have—to God to help accomplish His work. This includes our time, our talents, and everything He blesses us with.

  • In the temple everyone wears white clothing, which is symbolic of purity and equality.
  • Once we are endowed in the temple, we wear sacred garments under our outer clothing that have deep religious significance. President Nelson has explained, “Just as the Savior exemplified the need to endure to the end, we wear the garment faithfully as part of the enduring armor of God.”2
  • In the temple, marriage ceremonies are performed in beautiful rooms where a man and a woman kneel together at an altar and make promises with God and each other. Couples are married in the temple for more than this life; they are married for all eternity.
  • We are expected to center our lives on Jesus Christ and the promises He asks us to make to God in the temple. Therefore, we sometimes say that our lives are centered on the temple or that the temple is a focus of our faith.
  • Through the ordinances available in the temple, we can be with God and our families forever, regardless of when they lived, how long they lived, or whether they were able to make these temple promises during their own lives.

I would also tell them that as we make promises to our Heavenly Father, He promises us that we can return to live with Him and become like Him. He promises us that we can be with our families forever and enjoy greater blessings than we can imagine.
How grateful I am for the gift of repentance and for second chances. The Lord Jesus Christ in His loving mercy meets us where we are and takes us by the hand if we let Him. Each day, He gives us the opportunity to repent, to progress, to improve, and to draw nearer to Him.

“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

It is my humble prayer that He may bless each of us to know what God wants us to teach the rising generation, both inside the temple and outside the temple, so they can be better prepared to make covenants with God, so they can be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14), so they can withstand the pressures of the world, and so they can perpetuate righteousness for generations to come.

Lead image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Drawing upon her unique life experiences, Sister Reyna Aburto invites readers to join with her in strengthening Christ's Church. Through her relatable style and humble approach, Sister Aburto shares her insights about growing up in Nicaragua, losing her brother in a devastating earthquake, having a spouse struggle with addiction, dealing with divorce and single parenting, joining the Church, and developing a deep conviction of the Savior's love and the transcendent power of His atoning sacrifice. Each chapter addresses a specific way we can reach for the Savior, from studying the Book of Mormon to temple worship to strengthening our wards to ministering and more. Through trials and difficulties, personal darkness, and mental and emotional struggles, we can find small and simple ways of drawing closer to God in Reaching for the Savior. Preorder it now at DeseretBook.com


  1. Mosiah 26:1; Alma 5:49; 3 Nephi 1:30; Doctrine and Covenants 69:8, 123:11; see also Doctrine and Covenants 69:8.
  2.  Russell M. Nelson, Teachings of Russell M. Nelson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 364.
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