By MacKenzie Inman
I’d had plenty of time to daydream about how my future husband would propose. For a while it involved moonlight (are you even surprised?), the rooftop of the tallest building in the city, lots of roses, and the promise of a temple marriage. When I started dating Joe, my dream of being proposed to in the moonlight had steadily been replaced with a white sandy beach at sunset. You see, Joe was from Fiji and as he so lovingly described his island home, I fell in love. Not just with him, but also with the clear blue ocean he boasted of so proudly and the sunsets he assured me were a view out of this world.
When I finally visited Joe, Fiji was everything he’d said it would be and more—except for one tiny category 4 cyclone. That evening Joe had planned to take me to the beach (where I later learned he was going to propose). After learning that hurricane Evan was headed for Fiji after just devastating Samoa, we headed back home to help Joe’s family board up the windows of their house and wait out the storm.
It was that evening, long after the power had gone out leaving us in darkness, with the rain beating down on the small tin roof, that Joe proposed to me. I could just make out his bright white smile in the darkness. Sure, getting engaged in the middle of a hurricane wasn’t my daydream proposal, but it was the beginning of the whirlwind journey we’d take together (or more truthfully, apart) over the next year.
And here’s where it gets tough: long distance relationships are the worst (like bang your head against the wall, question your sanity daily, “Why are we doing this?” kind of way). But even though it was hard, I can say now (and even then) that Heavenly Father helped us every step of the way.
The day after we got engaged, we went to the Suva Fiji Temple. The storm had passed and the temple was beautifully white amongst the lush green hills. It was at the temple that day that Heavenly Father gave me a gift. A powerful witness that I know He gave me because He knew the hard days ahead where I’d fall to my knees and have nothing but that confirmation to move me forward.
I’ll never forget looking across the aisle at the Suva temple that day and seeing Joe. I can still remember vividly the unmistakeable surge of my heart powerfully witnessing to me that he was the man I would be sealed to for all time and eternity and start an eternal family with.
How grateful I am for the temple and for it’s ability to bring me closer to my Heavenly Father. It saved my marriage before I even had a marriage to save. It gave me the strength and faith I needed when even family and friends questioned my choice: “Who is this guy? We’ve never met him. Are you sure this is what you want?”
Over the next year I would go to the temple by myself and look across the aisle, searching for Joe’s face. I can’t tell you how many times I closed my eyes and prayed that he’d magically appear there with the bright white smile I’d come to miss so much. As I attended the temple regularly, I continued to feel peace that pushed me forward month after month. Until one day (and many months later), Joe did sit across from me in the temple again; this time we were kneeling across from each other at an altar in the Salt Lake Temple.
Even though it’s been over three years, I still look over at Joe whenever we go to temple. Each time I see him across from me I remember the overpowering love I have felt from my Heavenly Father whenever I’ve gone to his holy house. I imagine I’ll keep looking over and remembering for many years—not to mention eternities—to come.