I had always been fascinated by family history as a child, even though I wasn't a member of the Church. I would pick my dad’s brain about the family, but he was the youngest of 6, so he humored me by telling me what he could. In the meantime, two of my cousins had converted almost ten years before me, but only one of them attempted to find our ancestors. He became discouraged because of a court fire that wiped out two generations of records.
Despite knowing that, several times after my baptism in 1973, I would attend the family history class when it was offered. I asked teacher after teacher how to circumvent a court fire, and never got a satisfactory answer.
Fast forward to December 1996. I had talked to my favorite aunt and made an appointment with her for the new year to talk about family history. She had always been the family story keeper even though she was only four years older than my dad. Neither of her sons, my cousin converts, had talked to her extensively about the family. A few days later, my parents called, telling me my Auntie Vi had suddenly passed away. I was devastated! Now my dad was the only sibling left and I had already exhausted his knowledge of the family. I didn’t know where to turn for help.
A week later was the new year and they announced at Church they were starting another family history class. That first meeting I explained my problem with the court fire and again received a ‘beating round the bush’ answer. I thought seriously about not going back the following week, but reasoned I might get an accidental answer to my problem. Several weeks went by, and I finally gave up. I wasn’t going back to that class! When I found myself standing in front of the classroom door I thought, OK! ONE more time!. Again, I broached the subject of the court fire (I hadn’t asked since the first meeting), and AGAIN got the runaround.
As I left the class, a sister who hadn’t been in the ward long, approached me and told me she went to the Los Angeles Family History Center at the Temple every week. She said she could see I was frustrated and asked if I had a name for her to take to the Center and she’d see what she could do. I gave her my great grandfather’s name. The following week found me sitting in the class. She handed me a stack of papers almost half an inch thick. Among them were copies of census records with my great grandfather and lists of books containing lines of my maiden name, Sams. One of the books added five generations to my paternal line.
I was thinking about all that had happened when it suddenly came to me that Auntie Vi had been ‘gone’ less than two months when my brick wall was swept away. She may not have been able to add to my collection of family stories, but she had been able to inspire a knowledgeable sister to ask me for a name!
Deena, my father and his mother were very anti LDS. When they passed my sister and I and other family members did their temple work. Those days in the temple, doing their work remain some of the sweetest and most spiritual I’ve had. They were most definitely with us and most definitely accepted and rejoiced in the work done for them. I can’t speak for your ancestors but I believe we are to do their work and give them the opportunity to choose.
Thank you for this article and these experiences. As a fairly new convert, my first experience with genealogy was in a BYU ward Sunday School class many years ago. The teacher handed out an outline and discussed all that we would accomplish over the next six weeks or so. Impossible, I thought, but he assured me I could get it done. By the end of the class, I had a very basic 4-generation of my family. Over the years my research has still been slow, but I have had several small miracles, one in particular, when I knew I was being helped from the other side or that certain ancestors were ready and eager to receive their temple ordinances.
Deena, we don't always get a "Yes! Do it!" answer from our ancestors. Mostly, we just do the work we can and hope they appreciate it. If you feel strongly that she wouldn't want the work done (even though there is no obligation on her part attached to it), then, by all means, hold off. But continue to pray that she will be taught and accept the gospel, and make sure that the work for all her ancestors is done. They may be able to influence her. My daughter had a very strong impression before an endowment session that the sister she was proxy for did not want the work done. She was counselled by the temple president to do the work anyway. He said that perhaps this sister would eventually accept the gospel, and that learning in the spirit world is not all that different from learning here: it's just in a setting where Satan and the world have no influence. They all have the chance to learn the gospel in its purity; a few will reject it anyway, but most will gladly accept once they know the truth.
I did the temple work for my father, and his mother and father, my grandparents, knowing my father probably wouldn't accept the work. I was told we need to be obedient and do the work and it will go into abeyance until they are ready. I had all their work done on what I realized later was my father's death date in November of 1991. I prayed often to know if they accepted the temple work. One night I had a dream. An angel appeared to me and told me all three had accepted the work. I realized I had this dream in February--on my father's birthday.
As Spencer W. Kimball was fond of saying--"Just Do It."
I loved this article and the experiences you shared. I have come to realize over the years that if you don’t want miracles and the help of angels in your life, do NOT get involved in this work of rescue and the salvation of your ancestors because it is a package deal. Thank you for sharing!.
During my years at BYU I took a D&C class as one of my religion requirements. On one day during a genealogy lecture the professor pause briefly, looked at the class and said he had a story to tell us that he didn't usually share with anyone, but felt that we would appreciate it. He related how for nine straight years he had spent every spare moment doing genealogy (this was well before computer access) and finally ran into road blocks on every line. He struggled with it for a while and finally got on his knees and prayed to Heavenly Father that if the people on the other side of the veil weren't interested in helping he was just going to give up because he couldn't progress any further with the work. He said he found out just how interested those who had passed on were because his father appeared to him. That experience was especially joyful because his father hugged him and he was able to hug back, thus knowing that here was a resurrected being. His father then pointed out some people on his genealogy lines that the temple work hadn't been done yet, but there was enough information to submit them. His father then gave him clues where to find information to progress further down the road-blocked lines.
My mother passed 2 years ago. She was terribly anti-LDS. I don't feel right doing her work just now. I am waiting for the Spirit to let me know. Is this the correct approach?
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.