“Tell Him I choose Him as My Father”
In January 2007 while serving as a missionary in the US/Canada Zone of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, I had an occasion to mentor an elderly gentleman from Utah, serving in another zone in the library. I’ll call him Elder Jones. He wanted me to mentor him in the Church’s new genealogical program known as new FamilySearch.
We went to Elder Jones’ pedigree and started to discuss his immediate family. We looked at him and his current wife, who was sealed to her deceased husband. Then we looked at his family with his previous wife to whom he was sealed, and we up-dated some of the dates and places. Then I asked him if his families were now complete.
He looked at me and said, “Well, no. I did have another wife.” I asked him if we should add her to his Spouses & Children screen. He said no, he didn’t think so because they got divorced and he didn’t want to be sealed to her. I said okay. Then I asked him if he had any children with this first wife. He blushed and flustered a little, and then admitted that they did have a child. In fact, she was pregnant when he married her, but that he was never really sure if this son was his. That’s why they divorced after the son was born.
The woman raised the little boy in a rather wild and rough life, without the benefit of the Church or a husband. The little boy had no stable father. He struggled through school, not graduating from high school, and ended up in prison for minor drug offenses. When he was about to be released, his mother humbled herself and called Elder Jones, who was well-off financially, and asked him if he would help this boy get an education and/or a job.
Elder Jones did both, helping the boy get his GED and a good job in southern Utah. The boy eventually married, had a couple of children who considered Elder Jones their grandpa, and was headed toward full fellowship in the Church. Unfortunately, he was killed in an auto accident in his mid-30’s traveling from work to home before receiving the saving ordinances.
By the time this whole story came out, my mentoring time with Elder Jones expired and we agreed to schedule another session. But after Elder Jones left, I couldn’t stop thinking about this boy. My busy day went on, but whenever I got a brief moment to myself, his story kept coming back into my mind. Finally after a day and a half of this, I was able to find a longer stretch of time alone, with no phone, TV, or family to interrupt.
In this quiet moment, as I began thinking about this boy again, he seemed to enter into my mind’s eye and I could vaguely see his face and brown eyes. He was dressed in white, and was clean and pure. He looked directly at me and said, “Tell him I choose him as my father.” He repeated this. “Tell him I choose him as my father.” Needless to say, I got a severe case of goose bumps and knew I had to tell Elder Jones this message and all that it implied. It implied that the boy wanted to receive his temple ordinances and be sealed to Elder Jones.
The next day, the first thing I did after our zone prayer meeting was find Elder Jones. I told him I had an important message for him and related the special spiritual experience I’d had with his son. Elder Jones looked at me in astonishment and his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well this changes everything, doesn’t it.” I said yes, I think it does.
He said he would contact his son’s wife and children, all of whom were active in the Church, about getting this boy’s work done. We considered how he would be sealed to Elder Jones – but with which wife? He decided he’d better do the sealing with his second wife and not the boy’s mother, but this seemed to be getting more complicated than he could handle at that time. Elder Jones promised me that he would move forward on this boy’s work, prayerfully considering what to do with the sealing. Two months later, I met Elder Jones two days before he was to be released from his mission. He reassured me that it was his first concern to take care of his son’s temple work.
This experience was wonderful to me and reinforced my conviction that the work we do in God’s temples is sacred and necessary, and that those who have gone into the spirit world without the work, are trying to communicate with us to help them acquire the ordinances by proxy.
I feel that this brief time I spent with Elder Jones was a magic, once-in-a-lifetime moment for this boy, one which he took advantage of when his dad was thinking about him, and would be receptive to hearing his plea given through me.
I am thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the ability for each one of us to repent and do better to make something of our lives, and this because of the sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I bear testimony that “He was, that He is, and that He is to come.” I bear testimony that the work the missionaries do in the Family History Library, Elijah’s temple, and elsewhere as consultants, is sacred. This experience reinforced to me the deep responsibility we have to our direct and extended family members to help them progress through acquiring temple ordinances. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to serve as a missionary there and a consultant in my stake.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Submitted by Sister Catherine Pearce Anderegg, of Sandy, Utah