This talk is similar to one I gave previous this year, but there are a few added insights and personal details worth sharing.
Enable Salvation of the Dead: by qualifying myself and my family for the blessings of the temple and seeking out ancestors who are awaiting my assistance in this great work.
In the last five years. This work has begun to hit my radar. I think some of that motivation for me was the ease of use with many of the resources that have been created. I could not come up with any more barriers (excuses) not to do the work.
As I prepared for this talk, I had a bit of an excitement. In recent years I have done quite a bit to be involved in the salvation of the dead. This is an area of the Gospel that I actually feel like I’m kind of good at.
You see I am not an amazing speaker, or a great scriptorian. I grew up as second generation LDS, so I know all the primary songs, I understand the culture, I even served in leadership growing up, but because I made the decision to not serve a mission at age 19 like most young men, I was significantly behind in matters of scripture knowledge, using my priesthood, and feeling comfortable with the language of the gospel. I often times feel a lack of confidence in my abilities to perform certain church functions. For example, of my four children, I had to baptize three of them twice because I missed a word in the prayer, or didn’t dunk them the whole way. Each time I knew what to do, and knew what to say, but my nerves were so frazzled that it was difficult for me to perform the ordinance perfectly.
Family history and temple service has been a little different for me. This area of the gospel gives me a chance to “practice” the ordinances, the language of the gospel, and become more familiar with feeling the spirit on a regular basis. I’m able to do this in private and practice. By regular temple attendance and work on Family History, I’ve been able to build my confidence in gospel matters, which has now rolled over in other areas of service.
This has benefited me a few different ways. I’m able to be calm at the temple, and not nervous that I’m not doing or saying something right. I just enjoy my time and attempt to feel what the lord has for me.
When I’m asked to perform blessings, setting aparts, or perform priesthood ordinances, it’s not new to me. It’s something I feel more comfortable with.
Finally it’s something measurable for me. I can set goals and track my progress with indexing and family history. I can see the stack of blue and pink cards grow and shrink as the work is completed. I also enjoy the technology side of the coin… I love playing with the technology but if I don’t have something constructive to do with it, it feels like a waste.
So it’s in this spirit of humility and knowing my own shortcomings that I share a few stories surrounding Enabling Salvation of the Dead.
Attending the temple hasn’t always been an easy thing for me. I always envied those that went the temple and had these amazing revelatory experiences and felt so good when they went to the temple. When I first began attending, I didn’t feel that way at all. I was nervous, uncomfortable, and I felt like I was the only one that didn’t know where to go or what to do. There was one point where I actually couldn’t find my way back to the changing room. I just felt stupid. I left the temple on many occasions frustrated and not wanting to return.
A little over 9 years ago, I had made some really bad employment decisions that basically made our family homeless. I had started down the path of correction and got a new job, but my pregnant wife and kids had to go live with my in-laws for two months while I started a new job and tried to find a new home. I ended up living with a good friend of mine in his basement. I felt horrible for intruding on him and his family and I wanted to be there as little as possible so as to not intrude. I decided to attend the temple every week. I went after work on Wednesdays. I think the most I had been to the temple previously had been quarterly, or less. But I thought while I was away from my family, I might as well do everything I could do to work on me. By the end of this two months, I felt much more comfortable in the temple. I felt as though I belonged, and I know the Lord blessed that temple attendance. The home we were directed to is the home we live in now. My life has been richly blessed because of that decision to be in the temple… despite my past reservations and feelings of inadequacy.
Temple Dedications, Open Houses
I’m sure most of us feel the same way when President Monson announces a new temple to be built. We hear the city and country and most of the time we think, ah that’s amazing… So and so will love having that temple so close, or wow, there are a lot of diligent Saints there. Occasionally, you’ll hear a location and the spirit testifies to you it’s time for that place to have a temple. Often times an area you are very familiar with or have lived is announced and you’re overwhelmed with joy and immediately start planning your trip to be at the open house. Of course others, you hear the location, and think… I don’t even know where that is, but yay! Another temple?
Regardless, we are a temple loving people. It is one of the most exciting things for us to hear the Lord has another house to pour out blessing to his saints in that corner of the globe.
Whenever possible my wife and I make it a point to get to temple open houses with our family. I’m sure many of us want that. It is not coincidence that each of us wants to see our whole family in the temple together. Obviously, making covenants and performing ordinances someday, but for today, to walk through the temple and see our children inside the temple with us is an incredible feeling. I believe it is a brief prelude of the future. Our family together in the presence of the Lord. Could we desire anything more? I look forward to a repeat of this as the Provo City Center Temple provide the same opportunities.
One memory I have of the Draper temple open house wasn’t as reverent as I would hope. As I turned to admire and look at some room, I think it was an endowment room. My son, somehow got past the ropes keeping us away from one of the couches. He climbed up on the couch and for some reason actually bit the wooden banister on the staircase behind. I was horrified! But now I think back to a memory that is so locked into my mind. My son, in the temple! There is no picture that could leave a deeper impression in my mind. I’m sure many of us feel like their kids are not reverent enough to go to an open house, or do Family Home Evening walking around the temple grounds. But I know the Lord wants our children familiar with the temple. For many of them, it just takes some getting used to. Don’t keep yourself or your family away from the temple, for any reason.
Somewhere around this same time my wife and I heard this from President Monson: I’m pretty sure it was in a conference talk but it really had an impact on me.
President Monson related this story: The late Elder Matthew Cowley, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once recounted the Saturday afternoon experience of a grandfather as hand in hand he took his small granddaughter on a birthday visit—not to the zoo or to the movies but to the temple grounds. With permission of the groundskeeper, the two walked to the large doors of the temple. He suggested that she place her hand on the sturdy wall and then on the massive door. Tenderly he then said to her, “Remember that this day you touched the temple. One day you will go inside.” His gift to the little one was not candy or ice cream but an experience far more significant and everlasting—an appreciation of the house of the Lord. She had touched the temple, and the temple had touched her.
Elder Monson, ‘As we touch the temple, the temple will touch us.”
Having very young kids my wife and I thought this might be a good thing to do with our kids for family home evening, and then it branched out to something we looked forward to as we went on vacation. Please don’t think by some imagination it is this quite reverent stroll through the temple grounds. With three little boys, there is always someone trying to swing from a tree, wade through a fountain, pick a flower, or steal rocks and put them in their pocket.
Each time we have the kids pose at the door of the temple and put their hand on it, and we take a picture. To date, we have done this at 18 different temples. The visit usually ends with someone getting yelled at in a hushed, whisper. But I have confidence in knowing that my children know the temple, and they know it’s important to our family. I hope this is a good start to a life-long love of the temple. I do have faith in President Monson’s promise that the “temple will touch them”. In this day and time, they will NEED the temple to touch them.
100 Names in 100 Days
Each year, our ward participates is something to do with 100 names and the temple. One year it was to do 100 ordinances in 100 days of family names in our ward. Another was to have a member of our ward in the temple EVERY day the temple was open for 100 days. And then this year we did a special indexing effort of encouraging every to do 100 names indexing for the 100 days.
The year we decided to do 100 ordinances I really felt the impression to begin my temple work. I wanted to have some names that were included in this batch we were working on. At the time I was in young men’s and we needed to come up with names anyway to take for our next temple trip. We were going to be doing baptisms for the dead in the Monticello Temple as part of our youth conference. I had no idea where to begin. Fortunately, the ward hosted a family history class during Sunday School. A husband and wife in our ward, patiently helped us navigate through the new.familysearch.org. After talking with my dad and an aunt I got started. My number one goal was to find where my Brown line came from. My father had traced it back five generations in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, but I didn’t know where it went from there. I traced the line back to New York… for now. But in the process, uncovered dozens and dozens of names. I was so touched as the names I knew were done in that small temple. It was an incredible experience to do that for the first time.
How amazing it was to have the tools at my finger tips, in my home, that I could do at any time. I encourage you all to just get in and try it. It will take a couple of hours to get your bearings and understand the landscape, but after that each time you return you’re moving forward.
It has been such a wonderful feeling to connect to these ancestors I never knew. I have felt a special spirit as I do this work late at night. It’s kind of detective work in a way. I love to uncover forgotten names, or run across a mistake or something missed. I know I’m not alone in the work.
One thing that moves me each time I’m looking over a family record, or a census is the lack of the back story to go along with the ancestors I’m looking at. I’m moved when I see a child’s name on one census and then not there on the next census ten years later. Then in another record I find a death certificate and learn the child passed away at a young age. I have a few ancestors that were in second marriages with kids that are hers, mine, and ours. My heart is softened as I sit considering what those experiences must have been like; the suffering or the sadness that must have been felt. The sacrifices and trials my ancestors had to endure are humbling to me. To know that much of what they went through has gotten me to where I am today, and possibly shaped my character in some way.
Madison to the Temple
Another thought I want to share with you about my maturing down this path involves my daughter Madison. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but the moment Madison turned 12 we made it a priority to get to the temple for the first time together. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Madison loves the temple. It has been so inspiring to hear her talk about the temple and see the importance it already has in her life. I know my testimony of the temple wasn’t anywhere near that level when I was Madison’s age. One Sunday afternoon Madison took some time to set up her new.familysearch.org. It took us a few hours, but she found six names we were able to take to the temple. I had to guide her for a little bit to get started, but it wasn’t long before she was correcting me and directing where I made mistakes or was being inefficient. The spirit was very strong as I stood in the font with my daughter to perform baptisms for these relatives. It will be an experience I will always remember.
President Monson has offered a few of the benefits of this work:
Closeness to the Lord
Sense of purpose and peace
Will be able to bear every trial
Overcome each temptation
President Packer’s benefits of this work:
Receive Spiritual Perspective
The dust of distraction the haze seem to lift, we can see things that were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known.
Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection
Elder Bednar (October 2011 General Conference)
…Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
Doing the work of Salvation of the Dead is challenging and rewarding. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity I have had to dig in just a little so far. I’m very humbled by the mini successes I have had and the spirit I have felt as I perform the work. This gospel is a very hands on and there is a lot expected of us as saints. Many times we are expected to just know what to do or what to say at the right time. For some of us, this can be difficult. I testify that I’m thankful for that growth and strength it has brought to my life. I hope we each make the time to make the Temple more of a priority in our lives and be able to take of the blessings that come because of it. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.