“I’ve Been Cleared for Rebaptism!”
The third week of every month we hold a special home evening for a large group of ward members who come to my home. But one night was a particularly memorable one for everyone involved.
Our group of “regulars” consists of widows, widowers, recent converts, new move-ins, and others. We share potluck dinners, conversation, and what we have come to call our “bonding time”—when one or two people tell the rest of us about their lives and let us get to know them better.
We had all been particularly eager to get to know one older brother and his newly converted wife, and wanted to include them in our family home evenings. But although they always came to church, it seemed they could never come to our monthly gathering. As a result, I was elated one week when they consented to join us.
Then, the evening before our gathering, this brother telephoned. My heart sank when I heard his voice, and I teasingly chided, “Don’t tell me you are going to turn us down again!” Laughingly he responded, “Wait until you hear why we can’t make it this time. The bishop called me this afternoon and said I’ve been cleared for rebaptism.”
I had always assumed that he was a member in full fellowship in the Church, and was thrilled to hear the news. He continued to tell me that the wait had been long and painful for him. “You just can’t imagine what this means to me,” he said. “I want to be baptized immediately, if not sooner. The ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.” I expressed disappointment that none of us could attend because of our planned home evening, but wished him well.
But when the next evening arrived, a telephone call with the frantic voice of our bishop’s wife on the other end interrupted our preparations for the potluck dinner. The bishop, a doctor, had been called to the hospital for an emergency, she explained. To make matters worse, the ward mission leader had been called out of town. The brother to be baptized was waiting at the chapel with a few members of his family.
While the bishop’s wife tried to contact the stake president, my husband approached the group. “No one is there but the family,” he said. “Would you all be willing to go to the chapel and support this brother in this important event of his life?”
His words filled our hearts with the Spirit. We all hurried to our cars and arrived at the chapel to meet a worried stake president. As we took our seats, a strong spirit filled the room, so much so that tears began filling everyone’s eyes. When the brother to be baptized walked out and saw all of the tearful, smiling faces—full of support and love for him—he whispered, “I just knew everything was going to turn out all right and that you were all going to be here.”
What followed was a powerful, beautiful meeting I’m sure none of us will ever forget. When it was over, we congratulated our newly baptized brother and said, “We love you.” He hugged us, weeping openly. We returned to our home evening and enjoyed a profoundly spiritual night together, bearing testimonies of baptism, repentance, and the wonders of the gospel.
Brother Higgins’s Inspiration
I had just settled into my comfortable chair to watch my favorite television newscast when the doorbell rang. “Don’t get up—I’ll get it,” my wife said.
“Who would be coming at this hour?” I asked myself. “It never fails. The program I enjoy most is always interrupted.”
“It’s the home teachers,” she said. “I forgot to tell you that Brother Higgins called this afternoon. He made an appointment to meet with us early this evening so that he could see us before he leaves on his truck route tonight.”
As I arose from my chair, I already knew what Brother Higgins was going to say. He always said the same things—“How are you? How are things going? It has been a good day, hasn’t it? Is there anything I can do for you?”
Sure enough, that’s how he began. I kept thinking, “I’m missing the news.”
But when Brother Higgins asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” the thought entered my mind, “He can help. Give him a chance.”
“Yes, there is something you can do for us,” I ventured. “You know that our son, Mikhail, has just returned from a mission. He has been unsuccessfully searching for work and is very discouraged. I have been unable to help him. Do you know of any job openings?”
“Oh, boy, that is a tough one,” Brother Higgins responded. “I don’t know of any openings, but I’ll look around.”
I really didn’t think Brother Higgins would have a solution to the problem. But I had forgotten that home teachers are entitled to receive inspiration to help the families to whom they are assigned. Whether or not Brother Higgins could help, it made me feel better to have shared our problem with our home teachers.
Two days later, Brother Higgins telephoned me. “Tell Mikhail to go down to Read Brothers’ tire store and ask to speak with Brother Hogge,” he said. “He has a job opening.”
Mikhail was excited; he had been searching for a job for a long time. But an hour later, when he returned, I could tell by the way he walked up the driveway that he had been unsuccessful.
“I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed, as he entered the house. “Brother Hogge asked me, ‘Who sent you here? I don’t have any job openings. Even if I did, your request would be at the bottom of this thick stack of applications!’ I was so embarrassed—I was sorry that I had even gone to apply. I wish Brother Higgins hadn’t called.”
I felt Mikhail’s disappointment and tried to encourage him. But I couldn’t help wondering why our home teacher had been misinformed.
The next day, when I answered the phone, the voice on the other end said, “This is Brother Hogge. Is Mikhail there?”
Mikhail took the phone, and Brother Hogge said, “Come down to the store. I was impressed by your sincerity and willingness to work, and I can use you after all. I’ll need you this afternoon.”
When Mikhail arrived, he found that he not only had a job, but he could also choose the hours he wished to work. He was able to arrange his work hours so that they did not interfere with his college schedule—another answer to his fervent prayers.
As I reflected upon the sequence of events that led up to Mikhail’s new job, I suddenly realized that Brother Higgins must have known about Brother Hogge’s job opening even before Brother Hogge had known about it!
When Brother Higgins visited our home a few weeks later, I told him what had happened. He simply replied that he had prayed that he would be able to help Mikhail find a job, and he had called us when he knew of one.
It was obvious to us that the Lord had known of our family’s needs and had used our home teachers as instruments in meeting those needs. They had prayed for guidance, and the Lord had answered their prayers.
I Found My Dad
In 1950—few days before Christmas, when I was six years old and living in Palma de Mallorca, Spain—I stood on our living room balcony and watched a boat leave shore. On board were my father and brother. With me on the balcony were my mother and my sister. My father, a chemist of perfumes, was leaving to pursue opportunities in Uruguay, South America. He never returned. Several years later, he and my mother were divorced.
In the years that followed, I rarely heard from him. In the meantime, my mother took us to her native country, France, where, in 1964, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One year later I left France for Brigham Young University. In time, I served a mission, pursued graduate studies, and married.
Although my father had been almost completely out of my thoughts up to this point in my life, soon after my marriage a desire to do genealogical work for my ancestors began to bring him to my mind more and more often. My patriarchal blessing told me that the time would come for me to do the work for my ancestors through genealogy and temple ordinances and that “means and opportunities” would be provided for me to accomplish that work.
After I had joined the Church, my brother, who by then had moved to France, informed me that my father had accumulated facts, names, and dates on the Ainsa family. I resolved to write to my father, hoping to gain the necessary information to tie my genealogy from my grandparents to my paternal great-grandparents. I sent him a letter asking for details.
His reply consisted of a letter with only general information, nothing concrete, and a request that I not bother him again. I felt resentful and angry, but I continued to pray that the “means and opportunities” necessary to do my family history work would be provided.
Sometime in March 1986, while we were living in Arizona, my father wrote again during a family crisis in which my mother was losing her sight. I was comforted by the care and concern that my mother’s second husband showed her and was again offended at my father’s critical letter. I sent it back to him and indicated that if I couldn’t receive pleasant letters instead of criticism, I would rather not communicate at all. Within three weeks, my father answered the letter, telling me, “Your brother will inform you of my passing when it occurs. I don’t intend to write again.”
Nine months passed after I received the letter. Again I prayed about the admonition in my patriarchal blessing. The answer came unmistakably from the Spirit—I felt to apologize to my father. I consequently composed a five-page letter to him that detailed the events of the year and that included an apology for my erratic behavior in my previous letter. When I mailed the letter, I prayed that the Lord would soften my father’s heart.
Almost two-and-a-half months went by with no answer, until one day a registered letter arrived. In it, my father asked, “Would you spare ten to twelve days during your upcoming summer vacation to visit me? If you accept, I will send you the money to defray your expenses.”
I called my brother in Paris, France, who suggested that I wait a year, since my father had waited thirty-five years to try to see me. But as I prayed with my wife, Angie, we both thought of my patriarchal blessing and knew that my ancestors had waited long enough. I would go this year—a decision that was wholly confirmed by subsequent events that provided the “opportunity and means” to discover the records of my paternal ancestors. My mother’s husband offered to pay for Angie’s trip, as we couldn’t afford it ourselves. My mother-in-law offered to care for our four children in her home in California.
Everything went according to schedule—everything, that is, except my feelings of apprehension. I started worrying that my father might criticize my mother, my wife, or me. He had done it before. How would I handle it this time?
Only when two dedicated home teachers—to whom I will be eternally grateful—came to our home a few days before our departure and gave us a priesthood blessing did I feel at peace. They blessed my wife that she would be a source of inspiration to me, and they blessed me that I would be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit and would know what to say. I then knew that everything would be all right.
When we arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, I nervously looked for my father and saw him standing behind a window with his wife. He waved his cane at me. I waved back. Finally, the customs officer told me to proceed. As I walked through the customs door, my father eagerly came toward me. We embraced and kissed each other. As we left the terminal, the Spirit told me that the man walking beside me was a different person from what I had imagined.
We spent the next few days getting acquainted with one another, laughing together, discovering what we had in common, and becoming friends. Angie and I asked him to record on tape his experiences in youth and in courting my mother, and we discovered many things about his past. Then, one morning, Angie and I prayed that that day we would be blessed with the right words to ask my father to share with us the Ainsa genealogy and history.
It was my father’s eighty-first birthday. After opening presents at breakfast, he excused himself and came back with an object hidden underneath a towel. He handed me a box and said, “This is the least I can do after all these years. Somehow I feel that I have to make it up to you.” Inside the box was a beautiful watch.
Thirty minutes later, as we were upstairs sitting around my father’s oak desk, I inserted a blank tape into the cassette recorder and asked him to tell me about my ancestors. He talked for a few minutes, then stopped. “It’s a waste,” he said.
I panicked. “Lord, please help me,” I prayed. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for years.” Then I asked my father, “Why do you say it is a waste?”
“Because I have it in print,” he replied. My heart began to beat faster as he reached for a drawer in his desk, opened it, pulled out a folder, and handed me a sheet of paper with a list of names on it. “These are your ancestors on my father’s side,” he said, “and you’re welcome to this list.” I glanced quickly through it; it contained the names of his parents and his father’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, as well as those of distant relatives.
“What about your grandmother? Have you compiled a list on her?” I asked, my voice trembling.
“Your grandmother’s lineage is not important,” he muttered, brushing aside my inquiry. I replied that were it not for my grandmother, he wouldn’t be here, to which my father said, “Well, if it is that important to you, you can have it.” With that, he gave me an envelope containing names scribbled on several sheets of paper and said, “As a matter of fact, you might as well have everything.” He placed the folder in my hand.
I opened it and, as tears began to blur my vision, I read through several lists of names of distant relatives. Inside were pictures of my grandmother, my grandfather, and others. I wept openly. During the past twenty-one years, I had prayed on many occasions for this day. The Lord had heard my requests and had answered them at the appropriate time.
“Why are you crying?” my father asked.
“Because I am happy to be here,” I said.
At that moment, he, too, began to cry. He leaned his head on my shoulder and took my hand between his. “I am sorry,” he said. “I am sorry for what I did. I was wrong. I was never a father to you. During all those years, I never bothered to find out who you were. Will you ever forgive me?”
“Of course I forgive you—it is forgiven and forgotten,” I uttered between sobs. As I embraced him, the Spirit whispered softly, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10.) We were at peace. All the years of separation, loneliness, and turmoil melted away. He knew who I was. He had found a son. And I had finally found my dad.