Do You Want An Extra Portion of the Spirit In Your Life?
by G.G. Vandagriff
In the foyer of the family history library there is a mural depicting spirits literally reaching through the veil handing their records to people on this side.
This has never seemed more real to me than it does today. In a recent broadcast to those responsible for Family History in the church, Elder Henry B. Eyring spoke in forceful terms of the great missionary work taking place in the Spirit World and invited us to ponder upon the feelings of all those prophets we have loved in this dispensation. He stated that “even Joseph Smith, even President Kimball, even President McKay” as much power and authority as they had here on earth, do not have the power to baptize their beloved converts or even family members on the other side of the veil. That is a work only we can do.”
“Family history work is closer to the work of the Savior than any other work we can do,” stated President Hinckley in the same broadcast. The Savior performed a vicarious sacrifice for us, doing that which we were powerless to do for ourselves. Without that sacrifice we could not know eternal life. In that same light, Elder Eyring said that even the most righteous and worthy of our ancestors could not know eternal life if they were not baptized and did not receive their temple ordinances. Only we have the power to do this for them. And as the mural in the Family History Library suggests, they are so eager for this work to be performed that sometimes they will even reach through the veil to provide us with the information we need. Elder Boyd K. Packer remarked in this same broadcast, “There is no work that I know of that is so immersed in the Spirit as preparing family history work and doing the names in the temple.”
Do you want an extra portion of the Spirit in your life? Try taking up this important work. Miracles are promised if you do.
In an interview with Dr. Don Snow, a BYU professor of mathematics recently returned from a mission as the director of the New York City Family History Center, I learned that he was most struck by the interest of non-members in this work. They were unable to account for their “addiction” to it, just stating that they felt “inspired” to look in such and such a place and do such and such a search. He said, “The Spirit of Elijah is alive and well in New York City.”
With all the world-wide connections between members and non-members on the Internet, their genealogical “yields” become an aid to all of us who are seeking our families. I have been amazed at the helpfulness of people I have never met, who have connected with me on the Internet, willing to share their time and resources with me. With ease I have made connections which would have been far more difficult without this online pool of amassed enthusiasm generated by the Spirit of Elijah in our day.
Brother Snow related an interesting account of a man who was a doctor of psychology who came to the family history center three or more times a week after work and stayed until closing. He claimed it was his “therapy.” He wasn’t just interested in his own family. He was intrigued by the whole idea of family history and what it meant. He spent hours with the Ancestral File, researching who was related to whom, for a project he is involved in on “spiritual communities”. It is his belief that certain “communities” are created genealogically by people “unconsciously” marrying into them and perpetuating their beliefs. As Latter-day Saints we might be more inclined to relate this to the Blood of Israel being attracted to those with similar lineage. This doctor was trying to find a psychological explanation for something we might explain by foreordination. He is so intrigued that he is writing a scholarly work on the subject.
Another non-member, the director of a science center, became obsessed with his Polish ancestors. After ordering a few films from the library in Salt Lake City, he determined that this was too slow, and so he made a vacation trip of several weeks to the Salt Lake Family History Library. This led him to take a trip to Poland which was a journey of miracles. He would be walking down a street and feel prompted to ask a passer-by if they knew of the house where his ancestors lived. They would come alive. Not only did they know the house, they had pictures of what it used to look like before his ancestors lived there. They had known his ancestors. They told him stories of them. He ambled through a forgotten cemetery where the headstones had been desecrated and spoiled by Hitler’s army, vital information lost at the plunderer’s hand.. Yet a wall remained with inscriptions. When he looked upon the wall, he found generations of his family recorded there with all their birth and death dates.
Miracles are happening minute by minute to member and non-member alike in order to get vital information from the other side of the veil to this. Righteous spirits seek to communicate with us, so that we can find and identify them. With the falling of the Iron Curtain, more and more records to which we never thought we would have access are becoming available. Modern technology is accelerating the sharing of information in a way we never could have dreamed even ten years ago. Temples are dotting the land in profusion so that this work may go forth as it has never gone before.
At a recent women’s conference, Brother S. Michael Wilcox related an incident which will haunt me always. He had taken his family to the temple to do baptisms for some of their kindred dead. Before the baptisms commenced, the priesthood holder in charge, took them aside and said, “Most of these people lived hard and bitter lives. They lived out their lives, some of them thinking God had forgotten them. Today will be the first time some of them have heard their names spoken in love in a very long time.”
I had ancestors who existed in harsh circumstances for 160 years along the Volga River in Russia. I have recently found a Russian census of these ancestors which was miraculously preserved in the Russian archives all this time. Words cannot express the joy I feel at being able to give these people, who suffered such hardship in their lives, the gift beyond all gifts, the peace beyond all peace–the chance to taste of the pure and delicious fruit of the Tree of Life.
This work is coming to resemble a great river, rushing ever faster to its goal. Should we decide to jump in, the swim is the most exhilarating journey we can make in this life, for it is a swim in “living waters”, bringing us closer to the veil, closer to the true meaning of eternal life, closer to the Savior and his mission, than anything else we can do.
2004 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.