I have wanted to write for a week, but I just cannot express myself the way I want. Oh, well. This does not nearly do justice to the experiences we have had, but I have to write something.
Tuesday, the 24th, we went to Patriarch Fisher's home where Andrew received his Patriarchal Blessing. It was a beautiful and moving experience. I felt the Spirit and I could see that Andrew felt it deeply.
We enjoyed visiting with Patriarch Fisher both before and after the blessing. Brother and Sister Fisher are in their 80's. Their bodies are definitely slowing down, but their spirits remain young and their eyes sparkle. I found myself comparing and contrasting them to my aging neighbor, my departed in-laws in their later years, especially my mother-in-law, and other "old" people I know or have known. People's physical challenges differ, but it's not just that. Some people "die" young in that they stop really living long before their bodies quit. Other people die "young" because no matter how old they may be chronologically, they keep enjoying, learning, loving, and appreciating life. I think it no coincidence that people who strive to live the gospel seem to remain young far into old age.
Saturday evening, the 28th, Andrew received his endowment in the Sacramento Temple. His previously endowed siblings came - except for Sariah who is in Vancouver, WA. She took her daughters to visit the Portland Temple earlier in the day as her way of sharing Andrew's temple day. A time of reflection for her and for teaching her children, as well as sharing in the spirit of the day. We feel many blessings and much uplift from just being outside the temple even when we cannot attend.
Going for his own endowment, Andrew (and his escort, Tom) needed to arrive early to make sure his paperwork was in order and to receive further instruction. I went early, too, and in my own little mirror-session was told what he was being told. When you are hearing it for yourself that first time, there is so much to take in that it is hard to remember. It is nice to be able to go back and be reminded.
One of the great blessings of the temple is that once we have received our own endowment, we can return again and again to perform these ordinances by proxy for those who died without the blessings of the Gospel. (Note to non-member friends - We do not believe that those for whom we do this work are forced to accept it. They are not bound by it unless they so choose.) This blesses both us and them. The work they were unable to do in their own mortal lives is done for them and we get to review, continue to learn, and to remember the special feelings associated with our temple ordinances.
Another blessing is the joy we feel as we greet each other in the Celestial room at the end of the session. As we join our loved ones, we naturally reflect on the joy that waits for us when we reunite with loved ones in the next life - if we live worthy of the covenants we have made. It seems like a simple thing. We were with these same people only a short time before. Yet there is a great feeling of happiness impossible to describe as each one enters that beautiful room. Our resolve to live for the reunion with our Heavenly Father and with our loved ones forever is strengthened.