In April, we had the opportunity to watch the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s an amazing opportunity we have every six months to listen to our living prophet and the twelve apostles and other general authorities of the church. I’ve very recently learned to love General Conference more than I did before my mission. I know that the messages are truly inspired and can speak directly to us if we let them.
I bring this up because it’s where the story begins. On Saturday afternoon, Elder Quentin L Cook of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles spoke and it was all about family history. Roots and Branches was the title of his talk, and at first it wasn’t really anything new. I’ve heard the whole “family history is important” thing before. I’ve also been one to say “my family has been in the church for years so my family history is pretty much done as much as it’s going to be.”
Well. That was before I listened to Elder Cook.
I love the temple. I’ve always loved the temple. It was an incredible experience for me to attend the temple and receive the saving ordinances for myself last summer.
“Our doctrinal obligation is to our own ancestors. This is because the celestial organization of heaven is based on families.”
Whoa. That’s a pretty powerful statement. We have an obligation to our ancestors. Not just because they came before us and thanks to them we’re here on the earth or we are where we are today. Of course, that’s important too, but because the organization of heaven is based on families. God is our loving Heavenly Father. Christ is our Older Brother. We are all spiritual brothers and sisters. We all fit into this great plan… And our ancestors are waiting for us to do the work for them.
A few months ago I had the amazing opportunity to go with a recent convert to the temple so he could be baptized and confirmed for his father and his grandfather while a youth who went with us was baptized and confirmed for his grandmother. The first steps along the path to salvation. I will never forget the strong spirit that was in the temple with us that day. I have no doubt that his father and grandparents were watching, finally able to accept the ordinance of baptism that they had been waiting for for so long.
“This is the last dispensation, and we can feel the hastening of the work of salvation in every area where a saving ordinance is involved. We now have temples across much of the world to provide these saving ordinances. Attending the temple for spiritual renewal, peace, safety, and direction in our lives is also a great blessing.”
The temple is the most peaceful place on earth. It’s where we can go to get away from the world for a little while and be in the presence of angels. Even if we can’t see them, we can most definitely feel them. What greater blessing comes from entering the temple to learn and grow… And to help others who have gone on before to enter in and continue on the path to salvation.
So I thought “well… I have that Danish great-great-grandmother… I wonder how far back into Denmark that line goes…”
And so began the search to find my ancestors. Being a missionary, I’m not here to focus on my family who’s passed on before; I’m out here to focus on the living so that they can help their dead. But I can promise you that after my mission I won’t neglect my ancestors.
The temple is a beacon. It’s a little peace of heaven that we have here on earth. We have the opportunity to complete important ordinances not only for ourselves but to secure the everlasting happiness of those who have gone on before us. I know this work is the work of the Lord. I know that it’s through us that our families will truly be joined not only for this life but for the eternities.
And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to meet Ingvar “The Tall” Eysteinsson Koenig and to know his story. He died in battle in Estonia.
So that’s a little part of my story… What’s yours?