One day during my senior year in high school, a strong feeling came over me that my grandfather wanted to see me. So after school I got a notebook from my locker and walked over to Uncle Jacob Cline’s house, where grandpa had been staying since grandma’s death.
When I arrived, grandpa was sitting up in bed. “Come in, Ray,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
He wanted to tell me the history of his family, and I was to write the information down. I knew then why I had brought my notebook along with me. Over the next hour, he told me the history of his family four-generations back—names, dates, places, and stories. When he finished, he laid his hand on my shoulder and said very quietly: “Ray, I give unto you a charge to preserve this information, for someday you will need it. And when that day arrives, you will hear my voice and know now is the time, and this is the reason.”
I felt a shiver go down my spine and a warm feeling in my chest as my eyes remained riveted to the penetrating eyes of grandpa. I promised I would, even though I had no idea why I was writing down or preserving the information. Grandpa died two weeks later.
Years passed, and I was attending a radar technician school in the U.S. Air Force at Biloxi, Mississippi. During a general discussion one day, one of my instructors, Norman M. Hale, mentioned that he was a Mormon. That night, as I lay in bed, I couldn’t get the day’s conversation out of my mind. Finally, I got out of bed, dressed, and walked to where the instructors were housed. By then it was past midnight. I knocked on Norman Hale’s door and got him out of bed with the greeting: “Hi, I’d like you to tell me about the Mormon Church.”
Hale and his roommate had been companions in the mission field. They spent the remainder of the night giving me the discussions. When they mentioned temples, genealogy work, and vicarious work for the dead, a voice rang in my ears, Grandpa’s voice, and I heard again the solemn charge that he had given me. A warmth filled my bosom and I knew that what I was being taught was true. I started attending the Latter-day Saint church the following week, and was baptized in October 1954.
My parents weren’t very happy about my baptism. My father even made me give him my word that I would never preach “Mormonism” to him.
Ten years passed, during which time I met a young lady, taught her the gospel, baptized her, and married her in the Idaho Falls Temple. All that time, even though we were active in the Church, I kept my word and never mentioned the Church to my father.
Then one day he said to me, “You never are going to mention it, are you?”
We both knew what he meant.
“No,” I replied.
“Well then, would you answer a couple of questions?” he asked.
His questions indicated that he had done some serious thinking. After I answered them, I kept quiet, even though I could tell he wanted to know more.
“Well,” he said impatiently, “aren’t you going to tell me any more?”
“No,” I answered. A long quiet followed. Then I said, “I can tell you have been doing a lot of thinking about the gospel. Since we’re so close, I don’t think I should try to teach you. But I know two fine young men who can answer your questions and tell you about the gospel.”
“Ray, I’ve heard about those two fine young men. One minute you’re having a few questions answered and the next minute you’re being baptized.”
“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I’ll let them know that these will be informational discussions only, and that if they try to pressure you in any way, I’ll personally ask them to leave. And if you don’t mind, I’ll sit there during the discussions to make sure they keep to the agreement.”
“All right,” he said, “but if they pressure me to be baptized I’ll show them out of the house.” I assured him there would be no pressure.
The following Tuesday evening, my parents and I sat and listened to the missionaries present the gospel. I was pleased and a little surprised when my father said that everything they said was just common sense and that he believed it. After the second discussion, which both my parents accepted, the missionaries did what they were not supposed to do but which the Spirit prompted them to do: They challenged my father to be baptized. Before I could say anything, he answered, “Yes, I will.” Mother agreed. Appointments were made for the next discussions the following week.
That Sunday, I received a phone call from my youngest brother. His voice choked with tears. All he could say was, “Ray, … father is dead … Auto accident. …” I wept at the loss of my good friend, confidante, companion, and father.
A year later we went to the temple to do my father’s work. During the session, as I acted as proxy for him, good feelings told me that I was doing something he wanted me to do.
When we were in the sealing room to have him sealed to his parents, a warm glow came over me as we knelt around the altar. I knew my father was there in spirit. Looking at the temple president, I saw tears in his eyes. “Brother Snelson,” he said, “tell me about your father.” I started to tell him of the love and closeness I felt for him, but he interrupted me: “No, no—what did he look like?” As I described father, a gentle smile came across the temple president’s face.
After completing the sealing, he asked everyone but me to step out of the room for a moment. Taking me by the hand, he led me to the side of the room and we sat down next to each other. By then both of us had tears in our eyes, and the room felt as if it were filled with electricity. The temple president asked, “You know, don’t you?” “Yes,” I replied quietly.
He continued, “Your father was standing right behind you.”
Again I wept, this time for joy.