Remembering Those Who Wait


I was stalled for only a short time. But what of our ancestors who wait seemingly endlessly for their temple ordinances?

On my way to visit my grandparents so I could clarify some family history matters in preparation for a family reunion, my car suddenly started to sputter and groan in heavy freeway traffic. I barely managed to reach the shoulder of the road before the car quit.

Now what? I wondered. I found a white handkerchief in my purse and tied it to the car antenna. Then I raised my hood as another sign of distress. Nothing remained for me to do but wait for help.

Remembering that I had brought along my Relief Society study guide in anticipation of having a little time to myself, I decided to work on the lesson I had been asked to teach. My topic was a challenging one for me: redeeming the dead. I felt the lesson would be better given by a family history specialist or a temple worker who could speak with authority or from significant personal experience.

Surrounded by traffic noises and a hot breeze, I found it hard to concentrate—and of course I was worried that my primary source of transportation was disabled. I kept interrupting my study with backward glances. Would anyone stop and offer aid? I wondered. I was surprised at the intense longing I felt at the sight of other cars whizzing past to their destinations.

Back to the lesson, I told myself repeatedly, well aware that craning my neck to look back would not bring help any faster. Nevertheless, my eyes would return to the road every few moments in search of a rescuer.

Then it happened. In a moment of inspiration, I realized that my prayers had been answered; I could learn something valuable from sitting stalled alongside the road. I had been praying for at least a week for help to liken my Relief Society lesson to myself and the sisters I would teach. Now I knew from personal experience how it felt to be on my way toward a worthy goal and then become unable to go farther. Sitting there by the side of the road, I was halted in my progress toward my loved ones. As I hoped and prayed for someone to care enough to provide the help I needed, I felt I was experiencing in a small way the frustration and anticipation those beyond the veil must feel as they wait for someone to do their temple work so they can continue in their eternal progression.

A comforting warmth confirmed my insight, and I looked forward to sharing it with my Relief Society sisters. When only a moment later a kindly older couple pulled behind my car and asked if they could be of help, I replied: “As a matter of fact, you certainly can. I’ve been here as long as I need to today.”

President Spencer W. Kimball taught us the same principle: “Some of us have had occasion to wait for someone or something for a minute, an hour, a day, a week, or even a year. Can you imagine how our progenitors must feel, some of whom have perhaps been waiting for decades and even centuries for the temple work to be done for them?” (“The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?” Ensign, Jan. 1977, 7).

Safely home with a repaired car, I made a point of attending the temple as soon as I could to help a stranded stranger continue her eternal journey.

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett

Susan C. Eliason serves as Relief Society president of the Brigham Young University Third Stake.