Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family History and Temple Work


And He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at His coming. D & C 128:18 calls this a “welding link”.
This scripture has manifested itself in my life. Through my own search for my kindred dead, my heart has been turned to my fathers & mothers. They are as real to me as you are. I have felt them tapping me on my shoulder & heard them whispering to my heart saying, “Alicia, find me and do my work.”
Family History is so fun! I have found story after story about our ancestors. Stories of mothers of big, strapping Scottish boys, of officers in all the wars, a vice-presidential candidate, young children orphaned while on the boat to America, an outlaw, victims of horrible atrocities, & those who have triumphed over great adversity.
Of all the people I’ve found, I have yet to find one who became a member of the church. I would suspect that same thing is true for many of us who are converts to the church. I feel a real need & responsibility to continue this search to find everyone I can.
I have a large genealogy chart hanging on the wall just outside my bedroom door. Every time I walk past, I look at their names & try to picture their faces. I have marked which of our ancestors have had their work done or which ordinance has been completed, so I’m always reminded that it is my duty & there is noone else to do it.
I know our kindred dead are anxiously waiting for us to search out their names & then go into the temples to officiate in their behalf, that they may be liberated from their prison world within the spirit world.
I have known many of the people for whom we’ve done work in the temple. I also feel as though I know many of the others. I can feel their presence. I have felt their presence in the temple.
My patriarchal blessing states that when I do my family history & genealogy work, that work will be carried forward on the other side of the veil. Isaiah 24:22 says, “And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.” And 41:6 & 7 reads, “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; …to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” We all understand that baptism by immersion is the necessary gate through which we must enter before we can return to our Father in Heaven. The scriptures state so clearly the great mercy Christ has for all of us. He would never give a commandment that many people would never be able to fulfill. Latter-day temple ordinances make it possible to obey that commandment. 1 Corin. 15:29 talks of temple baptism. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead not rise at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?” In this instance, Paul is teaching about resurrection, which was difficult for some people to understand. The fact that they were doing the baptisms seems not to have been the difficult idea for people to grasp. It seems the practice was being done even then.
When Diane Stelter & I met w/ Sister Watkins this week, she shared w/ me her story of when she passed away and left her body. I got permission from her to share her experience with you. During a heart attack, she actually died and her spirit left her body. She explained that our bodies are like a concrete shell, and when we die, our spirits are so light. She said she floated to the ceiling and watched as all the medical personnel scrambled to bring her back to life. She remembers laughing at the sight. She said it looked comical to her. She realized that she felt no negative feelings, but everything she felt was positive, and happy, and peaceful. She saw a light and saw her mother. Her mother told her she was ready to be baptized and wants to be sealed to her. Sister Watkins knows she will never be able to do that work herself, but has already shared her mother’s wish with her children. She’s afraid they may fight over who gets to be proxy for her and her mother. Since that experience, Sister Watkins’ mother has returned telling her the same thing. She is waiting, a little impatiently it sounds like.
How many of our ancestors are doing that, waiting impatiently? I had a dream about two weeks ago. I was standing on a street with countless others. We were moving slowly forward in a line, which extended far in front and in back of me. Finally, I realized I didn’t know why I was in that line, so I asked, “What are we all doing here?” A person in front of me responded, “We’re waiting to teach people in prison.” I asked the people I was with, “What do we do if we become separated?” They answered, “If we are separated, we will meet on the temple grounds.” That answer seemed so natural to me. We were to go teach, and then go to the temple. All roads of the gospel lead to the temple.
We must do our family history & genealogy work; then we must go to the temple & accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life!
Isaiah 2:2-3 states, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his way, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law…”
There are many advantages to be gained from our frequent temple attendance. We can do ordinance work for those who have been taught & who are waiting for us. We can obtain knowledge about our purpose here & hereafter. We can receive revelations about our lives. We can be given blessings for going to the temple. We can be healed of our affirmities by special temple prayers.
I’ve never gone to the temple, & on leaving, think, “Well, that was a waste of time!” I always feel so uplifted & free from the cares & pressures of the world. I feel grateful each & every time I enter the Lord’s house. The other day I, with Beth, Diane, Jim, and Dale, had the opportunity to clean the temple. After I had finished my tasks, I walked around to find someone to ask what else I could do. I found myself utterly alone. I looked all around the baptistry, the 1st floor, the 2nd floor before I found someone. Jim suggested a job for me. However, I noticed as I walked all around the Lord’s house alone, I was completely accepted in His house. I felt loved and peaceful and welcome! What an unspeakable blessing it is!
Pres. Howard W. Hunter said, “I know the Lord desires His followers to [look] toward His example & [turn] toward His temples.”
The Lord said, that in His Holy house, “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy.” Who among us doesn’t need the Lord to manifest Himself to us in mercy?
Pres. Howard W. Hunter also said, “All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, & redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I will read from D & C 97:15-21. What blessings! Joseph Smith talks about His glory being in the temple. His presence is there. All the pure in heart shall see God, Zion will prosper and spread herself and become very great. Nations will honor Zion. Zion is a city of God. No wonder we feel so wonderful when we are inside those great walls.
I love the Lord so much. I want so much to follow his commandments. I want to return to temple as often as I possibly can; and as often as I possibly can, I want to do work for our own kindred dead. They have been taught by good saints on the other side of the veil and are waiting for us to go and be their proxies. What a wonderful blessing that is for us! The youth performed baptisms for our kindred dead just yesterday. I’m so happy to be there and to watch our faithful youth do this wonderful thing so gratefully. Coleen & I are here to help you accomplish your own family history and genealogy work. We can each play a significant role in the three-fold mission of the church by redeeming our dead. And I say these things in the sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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