My daughter, Asia, was excited to attend the temple for the first time to do proxy baptisms for the dead at the Mount Timpanogos temple in American Fork, Utah. Almost every night before bed, she and her younger sister, Jessa, would ask me to sing “I Love to See the Temple” with them.
Asia, and her older siblings, Kamri and Miles, traveled to the temple on a snowy January morning for a baptismal appointment to do some temple work. Asia, a little tentative, soon realized there was nothing to be scared about and thoroughly enjoyed being in the temple, even singing, “I love to see the temple, I went there today!” that same night before bed. She even told her little sister that, “there’s nothing to be scared of.”
While in the baptismal font area, Asia acted as a witness while both Miles and Kamri were baptized. I was able to baptize all of my children using family names they had found – with the exception of Kamri who had left her family names in the car.
That was fortuitous indeed, as you will see in a minute.
While I was baptizing Kamri, one of the names on the screen that came up was Sarah Cook. I started saying the words, “Sister Arkell, having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for, and in behalf of, Sarah Cook, who is dead…”
In that moment I choked up and heard these words in my head, not in a fierce manner, but in a jovial way: “I’m not dead.” I could almost picture Sarah Cook looking at people surrounding her and giggling while saying, “This guy thinks I’m dead. I’m not dead.”
I’ve said those same words hundreds of times in the temple, “…who is dead,” and I never recall having a similar experience. And while Sarah Cook is, in fact, physically dead, I know that she is very much alive, as I think she was trying to communicate to me.
As we were doing confirmations, we met a young man who is preparing to serve a mission in Madagascar. We asked him to share with us something that he has learned while working in the temple for a short time. His words were impactful and very relevant. He said, “We think of heaven as this faraway place, but these people that we perform ordinances for are very close to us as we do temple work.”
Sarah Cook, in some form or the other, was very close that day.
The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pain¬ed therewith. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.325)
Have you ever felt the veil thin in the temple?