Thursday, December 12, 2013

Learning to Love the Temple through Family History


I have a One Year Movie Rule.  I do not watch the same movie twice in one year because I get bored! One year is long enough for me to forget a few parts, making the movie almost new again.  I guess I have a short attention span. This makes attending a temple session a challenge for me.  As soon as the movie portion of a session comes on, my mind turns off.  It was worse when I became a mother. I was so tired all the time that when the lights went out I started to fall asleep!  A friend suggested that instead of performing an endowment session each time, Landon and I could alternate performing baptisms, initiatories, and sealings too.  That definitely helped increase the time between endowment sessions, but I still felt bad because I looked at temple work as more of a boring burden than a blessing.  I needed to learn to love the temple.

I learned how last month. The change in my heart came from being able to perform ordinances for my own ancestors. It began with a Sunday school lesson about family history. I have heard the admonition to do family history many times before and felt inspired, but guilty too. I knew stories about my ancestors, but never discovered temple ordinances that needed to be completed.  When I came to the end of a pedigree line, I quit looking.  I figured I would tackle family history someday.  Well... someday came with this statement by Elder Eyring that was quoted in the lesson; it pierced my heart and lingered with me the rest of the day:

"When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope.  Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom.  In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment.  Their hearts are bound to you.  Their hope is in your hands.  You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them" (Elder Henry B. Eyring, Hearts Bound Together, Liahona, May 2005).



The name of an ancestor, Increase Pettit, from my Grandma Ogilvie's side came into my mind. The next day, I logged onto Family Search and looked into his line to see what I could discover.  I noticed my 10th great grandmother was missing.  I began to do some research online and to my complete amazement, I found her! Her name is Alice and she was born in London in 1599. I could now perform her ordinances and seal her to her husband! That's all it took to catch the spirit of Elijah. I began working on my Grandpa Ogilvie’s Scottish line and 1 person turned into 162 people that needed temple work done! Through Family Search, I was able to request their ordinances and print off their ordinance requests at home. Then I took the request paper to the Ordinance Desk at the temple and they printed the individual cards I needed. The process was much easier than I thought it would be.

I have not been that excited to go to the temple since I went through the first time for myself! I cried as my father baptized me in behalf of my ancestors. Taking their names to the temple changed my perspective of temple work.  I realized that going to the temple is not about ME.  The temple is not there to entertain ME.  The temple is there so we can seal families together for eternity.  It is there so we can all, living and dead, partake of eternal life and exaltation.  My ancestors became more than just a name on a slip of paper; they became real people who were counting on me to help them.  When I went through the temple for Alice’s endowment, I watched the movie through Alice’s eyes, not mine.  I noticed things that I had not before. I did not fall asleep! Taking a family name made more out of the entire experience.  More gratitude, more excitment, more fulfillment. Finding my ancestors and performing their work is a blessing I am grateful to be a part of.

If you have caught the family history bug, then you know what I am talking about! The spirit of Elijah is strong. If you have not, go to Family Search. You can sign in with your LDS account if you have one. If not, you can make one.  You do not have to be a member of the church to access Family Search either.  Once into Family Search, you will find access to millions of people from census, birth, death, military, and other records from around the world.  If you are a member of the church or you have family who has done some family history, your family tree will already be created for you. Find how far back it goes! And when it ends, or when you notice a missing person, you can begin to extend your family chain as far as you can. Even if you do not find ancestors who need their temple work done, it is still neat to learn about them! Family Search now includes places for stories and photos of ancestors.  My friend Trisha told me, “I've been sitting here…reading stories about and seeing pictures of my grandparents and great grandparents. I've been crying my eyes out, but in a very good way!”  

Every name we perform work for at the temple is important.  Each and every person on that paper is someone’s ancestor and deserves our respect.  But for me, taking a personal family name has added so much more significance to the ordinances I perform for that person. Their sacrifices are the reason I am here today. I am grateful I have a lifetime ahead of me to do more family history because I have discovered it never ends. One family links to another, creating a chain of families to be bound together. I recognize how thin the veil between heaven and earth is.  Our ancestors are all around us, acting as guardian angels and guiding us down the right paths. My eternal perspective has also been expanded. It is easier to recognize what is important – my testimony and my family – and what will fade when this life ends.  I see that I am a link in this great family chain. I want to be more than just a name to my great-great grandchildren; I want them to know who I was and what I stood for. I want to be an ancestor my children and grandchildren will be proud of. I like to think my ancestors are proud of me too.