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You are probably further along the path back to your Heavenly Father than you realize.

My parents, Aparecido and Mercedes Soares, always dreamed of serving a mission. They wanted to repay the Lord for the many blessings that had come to their family since they had joined the Church. Their opportunity came in 1989 when they accepted a call to serve in the São Paulo Brazil Temple.

Only a few months into their mission, however, my father suffered a heart attack and passed away. During his funeral, I embraced my mother as we stood before my father’s casket.

“Mom, what’s next for you?” I asked.

“Your father and I dreamed of this mission,” she replied. “I am serving right now, and I will continue to serve—for him and for me.”

A kind temple president assigned another widow to serve as my mother’s companion, and my mother continued her mission for more than 20 months. Her missionary service blessed her, and her faith and example blessed my family and me.

During her mission, two of my brothers also passed away, and my wife and I lost two children. The first was born premature and did not survive, and we lost the second to miscarriage. During that trying time for our family, my mother was there in the temple every day reaffirming her faith—and strengthening ours—in the plan of salvation.

Her faith in a glorious reunion with my father and the promise of eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father sustained her for 29 years as a widow until the end of her days, at the age of 94.

The Plan of Happiness

How blessed we are as Latter-day Saints to know that the gospel has been restored. The plan of salvation truly is “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). To the true and faithful, it promises an everlasting reward in God’s presence.

As revealed in the Doctrine and Covenants, nearly all of Heavenly Father’s children will enter a kingdom of glory. Through the Savior’s Atonement, those who come forth “in the resurrection of the just” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:17) will be made perfect and inherit celestial glory.

Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept this doctrine. Unfortunately, some may not believe that it applies to them personally. They make mistakes. Their spiritual progress, though steady, is slow. They wonder if they’ll ever be good enough for the celestial kingdom.

If you find yourself in that group, remember the Lord’s words to another group of believers: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me” (Mosiah 24:13).

God loves us and wants all of us back in His presence. You are probably further along the path back to Him than you realize.