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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Rome Italy Temple in Rome, Italy, on Monday, March 11, 2019.

The First Presidencyand members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently made history as all 15 gathered together to dedicate the Rome Italy Temple. As I’ve read the accounts and stories documenting the experiences these amazing brethren have had during this momentous event, I can’t help but think there were some very sacred and beautiful things that took place.

My husband and I sat together and read through the testimonies tweeted out from President Russell M. Nelson, his counselors and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles a few days later. They were powerful.

“Something big is going on,” my husband said thoughtfully as we pondered on what was said and the way the testimonies were deliberately worded. “If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss it.”

I would like to share my thoughts on supporting the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ and following the Savior.

Marie Long
Brad and Carmen Herbert stand outside the Draper, Utah temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My husband was recently called to serve as a member of our bishopric in our ward. What this means for him is the opportunity to stretch himself in service. What this means for me is the opportunity to do the exact same thing.

When a man is asked to serve in this capacity, it usually means early morning meetings, sometimes late night visits, interviews and sitting on the stand every Sunday. This means I am left to get four boys, ages 3 to 10, out of bed, fed, brushed, dressed and shoed by the time our church starts at 9 a.m. It means I lay out clothes the night before and pack a bag of a thousand activities and an entire box of Costco variety snacks in hopes that it will keep their bodies and mouths quiet for the 60 minutes as they “sit” on the bench with me.

It means sometimes cracking and giving them my phone to play games (noise off) and feeling both incredibly guilty and totally fine about it. It means putting my feet up or down to allow or stop multiple bathroom and drink trips, saying “Shh!” so many times I get lightheaded while trying to control the noise and fighting, and desperately trying to somehow get something out of someone’s talk. It also means accepting with all the gratitude in my heart a saved seat and a helping hand from other women who have been there, done that.

But most importantly, it means that I support my Father in Heaven.

I admit I have felt overwhelmed and abandoned at times when my husband is gone for various reasons serving others. I have wondered how I was going to do it. How can I let my husband leave and help others when I am barely holding things together here? I need his help!

There have been times when I have felt frustrated, less important and less valued, like I was an extra in a movie where my husband played the lead role. I’ve cried and questioned about where I belong and how I fit in to God’s eternal plan and whether or not he truly sees me as an equal. I think women are asked to carry so much behind the scenes that sometimes we get lost backstage, doing the hard and less noticeable work to keep the show running smoothly.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Wives of the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pose for a photograph near the Rome Italy Temple visitors center in Rome, Italy on Monday, March 11, 2019.

I was looking at pictures of all the wives of the First Presidency and members of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Italy and thought about their experience. Theirs is less talked about, less publicized. These women quietly yet strongly stand beside their husbands providing support and succor. Although they are not as “seen,” their role and example is no less important. They are equal participants in gathering Zion and preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They have probably sat alone too many times to count while their husbands gathered together to serve. They have probably leaned on each other and the Lord for support during difficult times.

Those beautiful women — and other women in my life, including my mother, mother-in-law, sisters and our bishop’s wife and so many others — have shown me how to humbly follow our Savior, how to let my light shine just as brightly and just as strongly as that of my husband’s.

If I have a true testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ — and I do — and if I truly believe my husband was called to serve in our bishopric because that is where Heavenly Father wants him — and I believe that — then I have to have faith that I will also be made equal to my role as the primary teacher and nurturer for my children while my husband is away, and that Heavenly Father knows I am capable of doing that with his help.

As I’ve shared my husband’s time and service with others, I am learning that I am somehow able to make more of my time here. Our love for each other and our children expands as we allow ourselves to share that love for our ward family.

How can God make more of us as we make ourselves more available for him? I don’t know. But I do know when we are earnestly trying to do what he wants us to do, he multiplies our efforts. He makes hours stretch. He makes patience stretch. He makes understanding stretch. He takes our small, imperfect offering of five loaves and two fishes and miraculously multiplies them to be enough and to spare.

This also applies to single sisters who have been impacted by death or divorce and are left to care for children by themselves without a husband beside them. I believe there are unseen hands helping along the way.

President Nelson said after the fourth dedicatory session of the Rome Italy Temple that this is a “hinge point” in the history of our church.

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“Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace of which this is a part," he said. "We think the church is an old church. It’s 189 years old. But it’s only the beginning. Just project out what the next future will be and the church is going to have an unprecedented future. Unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”

I feel like I’ve been given some challenging opportunities to become a full, active participant in the gathering of Israel. I want to be there, standing side by side with my husband as we help move this work forward.

I don’t want to miss it.