Editor’s Note: Remembering Heaven is a documentary premiering this week at the LDS Film Festival in Orem, Utah. To find out how you can see the film (with all COVID precautions taken in the screenings), CLICK HERE.
To see the trailer for Remembering Heaven, CLICK HERE.
For many years I have collected stories about heaven. My collection includes not only the heaven we go home to when we graduate from earth life, but the heaven we come from before we are born. The quest to understand these concepts has been a personal one. My search to know my spiritual origin and destiny has always been with me, even as a child.
I was born to loving parents and grew up surrounded by the verdant hills of eastern Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains.
From an early age, I was especially eager to learn about God. I ached deep in my heart for an understanding of where I came from. I sensed that I was a child of God and lived with Him before I was born. I missed him and, well, I was homesick for heaven, I guess is one way to put it.
Our family regularly attended our local Protestant church and every Sunday, together as a congregation, we would stand and recite a creed that went something like this, “God is so small he can dwell in your heart and He is so large He can fill the universe.”
I wanted to stand up on the pew and shout, “That’s not true, people. That’s not who God is!” But I restrained myself. After all, I was seven years old. Who would believe me?
In my heart, I never believed God was like a cloud or a seed. I knew he was a man with a son named Jesus. I knew he didn’t live in the entire universe, but in a special place called heaven. I knew heaven was my home and God was my Father.
My strong desire to know Him continued throughout my young years and on into college. A pivotal moment for me came when I first heard in my University English Literature class the following poem by William Wordsworth.
Ode on Intimations of Immortality
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come,
From God, who is our home.
The poem was electrifying. The words sang out like beautiful music to my soul. A strong spirit of holiness rested upon me in my class. I thought, “So that is where I come from. I come from God, who is my home.” But where and how can I learn more?
My search for God expanded into a search to learn all I could about the human soul, however, many of the philosophies I studied, existentialism for example, left me confused and even depressed.
Months later, my mother had a miraculous encounter (a story for another day) with a Latter-day Saint senior missionary couple from Brigham City, Utah, and invited them to our home. My mother thought they may have answers to my questions. Their first visit left a lasting impression because it was the first time I felt the Holy Ghost. It was tangible and real, but I had no idea what had happened. That was the beginning—or continuation—of an eternal relationship with the Bunnell’s.
After the Bunnell’s finished their mission in Eastern Tennessee, they invited me to Utah. I jumped at the chance and a few weeks later I arrived to spend the summer with them.
One evening I was with my new friend Mavis sitting on her front lawn in Brigham City, Utah. As we looked into the darkness of the evening sky watching for shooting stars, she turned to me and said, “You know we lived in heaven with God before we were born.”
I sat in silence, amazed at how easily she said something I had only believed in the deepest and most sacred place of my heart. This was the first time I had heard another person say that we lived with God before we were born. All of my life I had known it was true, but here with this new friend, who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she shared it like it was common knowledge. This impacted me greatly. I had found people who believed as I did.
Within weeks I requested the missionary lessons and in September, 1968, I chose baptism into the church. I was the Bunnell’s only baptism from their eighteen month mission…what an honor!
Meanwhile I enrolled at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. My future husband Brent also enrolled there after his mission. We are both converts to the church and were drawn together on a beautiful April afternoon as we shared our testimonies with one another. A few days later Brent invited me on a drive up Logan Canyon, which manifests some of the most majestic views imaginable.
After about half an hour we had wound our way up the narrow twisting road until we reached a mountain pass.
We parked the car near a shady meadow alive with wild flowers surrounded by groves of white birch. Brent took my hand as we walked.
The scenery, the sounds, the smells—it all seemed so familiar. The feeling was sacred and we were quiet, almost reverent. We didn’t speak for a time. Finally I broke the silence. In an unusual display of boldness I said, “I think I have walked with you before. . . . in heaven before we came to earth.”
“I feel it too,” Brent whispered. From that moment, we sensed one another as we had in the world before we were born and our spirits seemed to renew a relationship from long ago. We could feel there had been love between us before and a divine spark seemed to rekindle those memories.
Eventually it was time to drive back down the canyon and return to the real world. Our surroundings looked the same, but we were not. Our marriage came a year later in the Salt Lake Temple. Soon our children came along to join us.
Several of our children’s births were preceded by what I later learned is called an announcing dream. An announcing dream can be defined as dreams, visions and other spiritual connections with unborn children, or preborn spirits. In some cases I was even told what the child’s chosen name was to be. This is my story.
I was at home, just 10 weeks along with my sixth pregnancy, when I felt intense pain in my lower abdomen. At the same time I began to hemorrhage badly. “This is NOT supposed to happen again!” I cried out in my mind.
I fell to the floor and prayed with more intensity than I had ever prayed in my whole life. Flashes of memory of the miscarriage I’d had experienced just the year before and the grief I’d endured overwhelmed me. I had been promised that this time she would come!
Even before that fifth conception I had felt this gentle female presence with me and knew she was the daughter who was coming. During the three months her tiny body grew within me, her spirit self would occasionally enter my dreams and share with me her love. I had grown to love her; therefore my grief was enormous. When I miscarried, I feared I had lost her forever. Months went by as I struggled.
Then one day I had a dream-vision. I saw her again—she was a mature spirit woman dressed in white with brown hair pulled back at her neck and hanging down her back. She had large inquisitive brown eyes. I marveled at her radiance, she looked like a queen–she was my daughter, the baby I had miscarried two months before. She was apprehensive about her sojourn on earth and reluctant to leave behind the loving environment and special friends of the pre-mortal heaven. However, in this dream she called me “Mother” and I knew that she was committing to come to our family. I was greatly comforted and offered a prayer of gratitude to God for this understanding that she would still be born to me at a later time.
In another powerful dream several months later I saw myself in a hospital room. I was aware of every detail— the narrowness of the room, the window, the bed, the television. I saw the door open and a nurse walked in with a little bundle. I rejoiced when she placed a beautiful baby girl in my arms.
As I awakened from the dream, I sensed a divine, loving male presence standing in the doorway to my bedroom. In a distinct voice he declared of the female infant I had just seen in my dream, “Her name is Sarah. Her name is Sarah.” She was to be named after me.
Not long after this miraculous experience I conceived again. The first 10 weeks or so had progressed normally, and yet here I was again, lying on the floor, hemorrhaging and so very frightened. I prayed, desperately pleading to God with all the power of my being, “Please help me!”
Eyes closed, a scene unfolded in my mind. I saw my own spirit-self departing our heavenly home. I was looking back at it as I moved swiftly away and saw it bathed in what I can only describe as holy flames of bright white fire that did not consume. I knew that I had prepared for this journey for eons of time, but I was terrified. I didn’t want to leave my Home. Separating from our Heavenly Father was heart-wrenching for me. I felt an intense sadness as I moved down through space. I was leaving a place where I had been safe and loved unconditionally for untold millennia, but I knew it was my time to embark on my mission to mortality.
As I continued traveling down through the stars, the pace accelerated. Then I saw it, the earth…far, far below–forbidding, distant, cold—a stark contrast from heaven. I remembered being taught in my premortal life that earth was a long way from our heavenly home, but when I actually experienced the journey to earth, I was stunned by the cosmic distance.
I felt the chill of the approaching remote and dreary world. Fear and loneliness filled my being as the abyss widened from the nurturing, peaceful and loving environment of my premortal childhood. Comfort appeared in a presence, a strengthening escort who suddenly was by my side. Telepathically I conveyed to him, “I did not realize that the earth was so far away from our heavenly home.”
“Indeed, it is a great distance,” he acknowledged.
As the vision faded, a message of hope entered my mind: “You came to earth to be tested and tried, but you shall overcome the trial of this threatened miscarriage.”
Reawakening to my immediate surroundings, I found myself in the most humble position of prayer I could imagine, flat on the floor. I sensed with my spirit a Being of power enter the room. I felt compelled to rise. I was totally immersed in His love. I begged Him to heal my body for the sake of the child within me. In answer, He conveyed these words to my mind: “I am the Great Physician. I will heal your body, and this baby will be born whole and well, for I have so decreed it.” The promise delivered, His presence gently withdrew. I laid down on the bed, enveloped in a peaceful, healing power. Soon, the pain and hemorrhaging stopped entirely. I was whole. And, above all, my baby was safe! The following day, my doctor confirmed that everything was okay.
Months later, when I went into labor, my husband drove me to the hospital. It was a cold, dark and rainy night. I closed my eyes to the soothing rhythm of the windshield wipers. In my mind I saw her–a beautiful woman with brown hair and brown eyes. She was saying goodbye to many people, all dressed in white in the heavenly realm. I was eager to receive my promised namesake, little Sarah, but I could sense that she was vacillating about leaving the unconditional love of her heavenly home. I feared there was a real chance she might withdraw from earth life again and I prayed for the safe arrival of our sweet daughter.
When I opened my eyes, we were just pulling into the hospital parking lot. I checked in and was wheeled to my room. The labor went normally. With my husband comforting me as best he could, I approached those final few minutes before giving birth when things get most challenging. I again closed my eyes and prayed silently. With my spiritual eyes, I saw the outline of a personage dressed in white, standing by my bed.
“I have personally escorted this child to mortality,” he confirmed in my heart.
I was much relieved by this assurance that little Sarah would not “back out” again – that her apprehension for earth life was overcome by the aid of a divine escort. Shortly thereafter, our precious daughter was born.
Soon a nurse came in and said, “Every room on the maternity floor is full. We have to move you down to an area on the second floor.” I was taken on a gurney through long corridors and down elevators to an isolated little narrow room. As they propped me up in my bed, mental images from a year earlier flooded my mind. I had seen this exact room in my dream, along with the events that followed.
The door opened and a nurse walked in with a little bundle and placed it in my arms. As I looked deeply into the eyes of my beautiful baby girl, it was as if I heard the proclaiming voice echo from the past, “Her name is Sarah. Her name is Sarah.” At last I held my namesake–Sarah Rebekah–the sweet baby of my dreams, whose earthly body had miscarried on the first try, now returned to earth as promised.
Hinze, Sarah The Announcing Dream: Dreams and Visions about Children Waiting to be Born, (Three Orchard Productions, 2016.)
It is a humbling experience for a spirit waiting to be born to announce their desire for birth into your family. None of us are perfect parents by any means, but it seems our children love us and want to be with us, seeing past our imperfections, perhaps seeing our potential more than we do.
I wondered if other parents had these experiences, and soon discovered that I was by no means the only one. But what began as curiosity became a quest when I received profound impressions that part of my life’s mission was to research, teach, and write about this special experience occurring to people worldwide. Collecting stories was one thing I could do, but writing about it was something else. I was frightened. It seemed like more than I could possibly do. After much prayer and contemplation, I realized that I needed to be faithful to this assignment.
As I began doing so, I was soon joined in my research by my husband, Brent, who has a Ph.D. in psychology. We proceeded to conduct interviews, collect case studies, give talks, and publish about the marvels and mysteries of announcing dreams. Brent and I coined the term “pre-birth experience” or “PBE” to refer to any experience that relates to souls prior to birth or conception. We learned through an analysis of the data that unborn children can warn, protect, and enlighten us from another plane of existence. Most often they appear to announce it is their time to be born.
Social scientists coined the phrase “announcing dream” to identify dreams about unborn children and other types of PBE, not only in the western world, but in cross-cultural studies around the world. It is our belief that PBEs, like NDEs, are universal and occur among all peoples, now and in the past.
The abundance of research on near death experiences (NDEs) strongly suggests an afterlife. Add the increasing research on pre-birth experiences (PBEs), implying a pre-earth life, and the data leads to the following model that we really are eternal beings:
The concept of a pre-earth live is not new and is familiar to members of the church, but it has been largely forgotten or even rejected by the world. Most people are not aware that within the growing collection of ancient texts there are a plethora of teachings referring in some way to our premortal origins.
After I had published several books, Brent and I had the chance to visit with Elder Hartman Rector Jr. who was staying at a friend’s home after speaking at our stake conference. She had given him one of our books to read, and he was very encouraging with the direction we were going with our research and writing. “There will be books, films, music, art, and various forms of media that will share this important information,” Elder Rector said.
The word film caught my attention. I knew nothing of filmmaking. It seemed like an impossible dream, but I took Elder Rector’s counsel to heart that someday, with the Lord’s help, we would have a film.
I knew that with God’s help, all things are possible.
In 2018 while we were serving a mission at the London England Temple, I received an email announcing the LDS Publishing and Media Association’s Annual Conference in Provo, Utah which would convene soon after we would return home. I was strongly impressed that I needed to be there. The promptings continued, so arriving home from London, my suitcases still packed from our mission, I packed a small suitcase and headed to the conference.
Once I arrived, I networked and talked to many people until I was given the name of Tom Laughlin. Soon afterwards, we talked on the phone and our dream of a film began to take shape.
I believe that the adversary has taken the teachings of preexistence out of the mainstream and placed it into obscurity to hide from mankind their true spiritual origin. It should be shouted from the rooftops!
We are the children of God and come from His presence before we are born.
This is what we are seeking to do through our film, Remembering Heaven. By highlighting pre-birth experiences, the film demonstrates that the heavens are open and are speaking to us. We are so grateful to scholars Terryl Givens, Ph.D. and Daniel Peterson, Ph.D. for their major contributions. Givens and Peterson’s scholarly contributions bring us stunning detailed teachings from major cultures and religious foundations which should make the case for premortality at least a consideration for any true seeker of their spiritual origin.
Here are a few story previews from the film:
Christine was a young mother expecting another child. She was aware even before she left to visit her doctor that afternoon that her unborn child had not moved for a time. She was praying at home while waiting for her husband to come home from work. Then a remarkable thing happened… the spirit of her unborn child appeared and spoke to her.
Corenna was dating a young man, but she was confused where to go with the relationship. She had doubts about marrying him. After praying most sincerely, she fell asleep. In a dream she saw this same young man, but then he faded away. A young boy with brown skin stood before her and called her Mother. She was very drawn to this child, and felt convinced he held a message for her. After the dream, she broke up with the other young man.
Years later, she met another young man from the Congo in Africa. Almost immediately they became very connected to one another. They were married and a year later a wonderful son was born to them.
Ned is from the East Coast and owned a nightclub in the Hamptons. He himself claims that he was hedonistic, materialistic, and had no interest in God. One evening after a fight with one of his business associates, Ned died and experienced a near death experience. What he saw on the other side included children who could have been his had he not insisted on his girlfriends terminating them—a startling and shocking revelation. A Lady of Light showed him a child that could be his son on earth if he would improve his life.
Jeff and his family were in a horrendous car accident. His wife and baby son were killed and he was seriously injured. Miraculously his other son was not injured. His wife appeared to him at the accident scene and gave him a message. Months later he finally was given a special experience that gave him peace and assurance concerning the loss of his wife and son.
In the Bible we find PBEs, “…the word of the Lord came unto me (Jeremiah), saying, Before I formed thee in the belly (before conception) I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah, 1:4-5)
Prebirth encounters can come from the unborn or from messengers such as seen in the biblical announcements of the future births of Samuel to Hannah, John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Jesus to Mary.
President Russell M. Nelson has taught us well to seek to know who we are. “Great power lies in learning who you really are. Please take time to think prayerfully about these facts:
- You are an elect son or daughter of God.
- You were created in His image.
- You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching endures within you!
Learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness.
I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!”
The legwork of Remembering Heaven was put together by a team of people including Brady Dunn (cinematographer), Tom Laughlin (filmmaker), my husband and I (Executive Producers) and all who have so generously contributed.
Special thanks to Tom Laughlin who has given of his time and talents in an untiring and dedicated way. Tom has put together some of the most exquisite photographs, videos, and music that bring life and passion to this unique information.
Our deep gratitude goes out to those who have shared their personal testimonies in our film, allowing the voices of those awaiting birth to be heard.
In summary, in Remembering Heaven our scholars suggest that belief in pre-earth life has been recorded in virtually all civilizations. In his excellent book, When Souls had Wings: Pre-mortal Existence in Western Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010) Dr. Givens presents a compelling history of beliefs and traditions of a pre-earth life. Plato and Socrates spoke of a pre-life. In biblical times John declared that in the beginning the Son (Jesus) was with God who sent His Son into the world with a mission. (See John 3:16-17) Scriptures, prophets and pre-birth studies suggest this is a pattern for all of us.
In the early Christian era teachings about God’s truths were under the direction of Jesus and His apostles, but over time these authorities were all destroyed and doctrines were changed by the unauthorized. Ironically, one of the best known adulterations of truth was a result of politics. During the early centuries after Christ the Roman Empire persecuted Christians horribly. Later, to help stabilize the empire, Constantine chose Christianity as the mandated national faith. In 325 A.D. he ordered the Council of Nice, a selection of bishops, to develop a single description of God to be followed throughout the empire. In this manmade depersonalized definition of God He was no longer seen as our Heavenly Father with whom we lived in Heaven before coming to earth, thus contributing to loss of belief in a pre-mortal life—a truth we are striving to restore.
Sarah Hinze has collaborated with leading experts on near-death experiences and pre-natal psychology while conducting extensive research and hundreds of interviews. She has presented workshops, seminars, and lectures at conferences and universities, as well as on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. Sarah has been featured in articles and radio and TV shows in the US, Canada and Japan. In addition to English, her books are published in Spanish, Portuguese and German. Her writings have been the source of healing and hope for individuals worldwide. Sarah and Brent Hinze are the parents of nine children and thirty-two grandchildren, so far!
**Check out the story and journey of our film by following Sarah Hinze and Tom Laughlin on Facebook as well as my website and blog at:
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