The family is eternal—the ties of wife and husband and of children and parents are meant to be everlasting. This blessing from our Heavenly Father can only be realized when the sealing ordinances are performed by those holding the proper keys of authority.
This is why Elijah’s mission is important.
Who is Elijah?
Elijah is a prophet in the Old Testament who, as prophesied in the scriptures, returned again to this earth for a mighty work. This event and his mission were of such importance that the prophecy concerning Elijah is repeated, with only slight variations, in each of the books of scripture that the Lord has given to us:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:5–6. See also 3 Ne. 25:5–6; D&C 2; JS—H 1:38–39.)
This event was significant enough that the angel Moroni related its details four separate times to young Joseph Smith.
After Elijah had visited the prophet in Kirtland, he explained that the office and work of Elijah was one of the most important truths that God has ever revealed to man. Said the Prophet: “He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children … without us, they could not be made perfect, nor we without them; the fathers without the children, nor the children without the fathers.” (Documentary History of the Church 6:251–52.)
For us this means that we need to search out the records of our direct ancestors, identify them and their families, prepare the information in an acceptable, creditable manner, and submit it to the temple through the Genealogical Society. Then if the sacred ordinances of baptism, endowment, and sealing weren’t done while our ancestors were alive, these same ordinances may be done for them vicariously in the temple.
The Savior died on the cross to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. By the same token, this same Jesus calls us to do for our kindred dead what they cannot do for themselves.
Many young people find genealogy exciting and highly rewarding. It’s an answer to that need for personal identity and a sense of belonging. Such a search gives one a sense of history and a hope for the future. Sometimes life even takes on a new direction.
Nancy Ashby of Draper, Utah, tells the following experience: “I was having my doubts about the Church. Was it really true? Was it really worth all the effort? Wouldn’t it be all right to marry outside of the Church (which I was seriously considering at the time)? After this life is over, is there really anything else?
“Then my mother asked me to do some typing for her. It turned out to be genealogy sheets. She also handed me an article on genealogy that included the statement:
“‘It matters not what else we have been called to do, or what position we may occupy, or how faithfully in other ways we have labored in the Church, none is exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder. Place, or distinction, or long service in the Church, in the mission field, the stakes of Zion, or where or how else it may have been, will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 148–49.)
“I decided to do something about all this, considering the words of the Savior: ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.’ (John 7:17.) I found that genealogy can be fascinating and fun—and for me it has resulted in a firm testimony and conviction of all the other principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It changed my life.”
Ronald Millet of Long Beach, California, has a book of remembrance of his own that is complete with certificates to prove his birth, baptism, graduation from Primary, and ordinations in the Aaronic Priesthood, with achievement awards for each year. He has many special events recorded that show his progress thus far in his spiritual journey.
As a dedication to his father, who died three years ago, he is compiling and writing a very remarkable life story in the form of a book of remembrance. Through a lively correspondence with his dad’s former friends and personal interviews with relatives and old friends, he has built a beautiful memorial and testimony of the life of his father. Many testimonies and incidents that might have been lost are now written down and illustrated with available pictures. What a literal treasure.
This book has been arranged in chapters dealing with the different periods in the life of his father, such as childhood, schools, mission, and church activities. Ronald said, “I look forward to each day that I am able to spend with my father’s life story. I have uncovered so many accomplishments that I did not know of before. I hope I can carry on his honored name.”
Kevin Von Hunt is a seventeen-year-old genealogy enthusiast from Mesa, Arizona. He has been working on family records since he was a child. His records date back to early American and English ancestors. They are indexed and tabbed, with the sealing records and ordinance work completely and accurately indicated. Currently he is enrolled in a BYU extension division course on the subject.
Tommy Ayres moved with his family to Arizona, hoping the climate would benefit his father’s health. Tommy was ten years old at the time. The family attended an Evangelical Church; and at one gathering, President L. Harold Wright of Maricopa Stake was invited to explain the beliefs of the Mormon Church. Tommy was interested but did nothing about it until his father’s ill health kept them from driving the several miles to church. Tommy started attending Scout meetings at the nearby Latter-day Saint Church. Then he was on his way. He and his mother were taught by the missionaries and were baptized. His father, in a nursing home, was later baptized by Tommy. Two elders helped Tommy with the baptism by wheeling his father to the edge of the font and gently lifting him into the water. One month later his father died. His temple work was done two years later from sheets carefully prepared by Tommy.
Tommy’s interest in genealogy began soon after his conversion. He has spent hours researching family records for his own direct lines. It was a sweet moment for him when his parents were sealed (someone standing proxy for his dead father), and a brother who had lived for only two days and Tommy were sealed to their parents. Tommy left shortly afterward for his mission. He is serving in the Montana-Wyoming Mission under President Wright, the man from whom he first heard about the gospel.
Families are indeed forever; what a joy when every child of every family back through the ages and the generations has been accounted for and sealed in a family group.