Family History Discussion

Sister Sheri L. Dew and Sister Wendy W. Nelson


 

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Sheri Dew:

Wow. This is big. Good afternoon. We’re delighted to be here. My name is Sheri.

Wendy Nelson:

And I’m Wendy.

Now, Sheri, just before we begin, I have to ask you a question. Do you find it just a little bit ironic that you and I are here together at RootsTech? If we weren’t speaking together right now, you would be at a BYU basketball game, and I’d be here in the audience.

Sheri Dew:

Yeah, tip-off was just, I think, about three minutes ago. I hope they can win without me. I can’t believe I let myself get talked out of those tickets today, not to mention the fact that when my brother, who actually used to work for the Family History Department, heard we were speaking today, he said, “Seriously, whoever thought of you for RootsTech?” So there you have it.

Wendy Nelson:

I know exactly where your brother’s coming from. Do you remember all those worldwide memberships on Ancestry.com I gave you as Christmas presents, trying to interest you in family history work?

Do you remember when, for a surprise for your birthday, I went online to FamilySearch, looked through your family tree, and found some of your family members who needed their ordinance work completed, and printed off the cards—all so you could see your own name on ordinance cards and have the thrill of taking your very own family members to the temple? Do you remember that?

Sheri Dew:

Of course I remember. I loved doing the ordinance work for my ancestors that you found. In fact, I can’t understand why you stopped. I thought we were on a really great roll.

Wendy Nelson:

Just saying, little did I know that all it would take to get you focused on family history would be phone calls from Elder Packer and Elder Grow, and here you are at RootsTech. I should have called in the troops a long time ago. Well, I don’t know how you read all of this, Sheri, but I take it as a sign from heaven that your ancestors have not given up on you just yet.

Sheri Dew:

I hope they haven’t given up on me just yet. Perhaps you sensed in some of my dearest friend’s comments that Wendy and I are here today as exhibit A and exhibit B when it comes to family history.

Unfortunately, I am exhibit B. That fact has been reinforced by Elder and Sister Renlund’s and Ashley’s wonderful comments. Elder Renlund caught my attention, and he pricked my conscience with his challenge to find as many names for the temple as ordinances we perform in the temple.

That’s a pretty tall order for me. For decades now, the temple has been my lifeline. I love the temple. And years ago I decided that I needed to be in the temple at least once a week. But when it comes to family history research, I’ve been a slacker. And I shouldn’t be. My grandma Dew was an avid, dyed-in-the-wool genealogist back in the days when everything about doing family history was difficult.

Grandma served for years as a genealogy specialist for the Western States Mission, which took in parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nebraska. And she traveled to district conferences throughout those states, trying to motivate the Saints to do genealogy and show them how to do it.

She dragged me with her. I was her eldest granddaughter. I was bored stiff in those meetings. But I loved being with her. And because I was there, I heard Grandma preach again and again about how important it was to redeem the dead.

She got me my own book of remembrance. This is the very one Grandma gave me. And she stood over my shoulder while I filled out family group sheets by the dozens. One of my most vivid memories is of Grandma in her genealogy room, surrounded by stacks of pedigree charts, family group sheets, census data, and letters she had written far and wide, searching for birth and death dates.

The other thing I vividly remember is that her scriptures were always open. It’s probably the visual image I have of her scriptures that has affected the way I use and mark mine, with lots of verses underlined and notes scrawled all over the margins. I can still remember one verse that she quoted in those meetings again and again.

It’s from the 128th section of the Doctrine of Covenants. You’ll be very familiar with it: “It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, … this power has always been given.”

The sealing power is a bold doctrine. It changes everything. And yet even with my grandmother’s amazing example and her testimony ringing in my ears decades later, I’ll confess that I did more family history research before I was 11, which is when she died, than I’ve done since.

Believe me, it hasn’t been for a lack of interest, and it’s certainly not been without a whole lot of guilt. But now an Apostle has declared that no one is off the hook. No one—meaning you, Sheri—is too busy. So something clearly has got to give. So you now have the confession of exhibit B, which means that Wendy gets to be exhibit A. She used to be a slacker, too. Then something changed for her.

Wendy Nelson:

I too was influenced by my grandmother Hazel Marie Rosenberg Kunz McLean. This is a picture of her on their mission in Hawaii. When I was 17 years old, Grandma gave me all of her boxes of genealogy and said, “Now I can die.”

And I thought, “This is going to kill me.” For decades, I lugged those boxes with me when I moved from one city, even one country to another. And the truth is that if I ever wanted to have a really good nap, all I needed to do was think of delving into those boxes.

But something changed for me when I heard Elder Richard G. Scott’s general conference talk of October 2012, entitled “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead.” I was so taken with his message. I studied it more than 100 times in two months.

I could not get enough of his talk. It felt so personal. I felt like he was talking directly to me and allowing 15 million others to listen in.

At the end of his talk, he said, “But what about you? Have you prayed about your own ancestors’ work?” I heard it as “Well, what about you, Wendy? Have you prayed about your ancestors’ work?”

No, I hadn’t, and I hadn’t even thought about doing so. To that point, just like Sheri, the thing I had done the very most about my ancestors was to feel guilty. And I had done a lot of that. But when Elder Scott said, “This work is a spiritual work,” I believed him, and I started to think about what I needed to do to make family history work a spiritual work for me.

I was led to do several things, including (1) work in silence, which is not natural for someone who loves music as much as I do, and (2) create a spiritual environment in a storage room in our basement. This little room was of course filled with Grandma’s boxes.

One day in the temple, I had the impression that this little room, which we named our family history room, needed to be one of the most sacred rooms in our home. My experience with a stake patriarch came to my mind. When I asked how he prepared to give a patriarchal blessing, I anticipated him saying something like “Oh, I study the attributes and blessings of the twelve tribes of Israel, I read my scriptures, I fast and pray, I go to the temple.”

Instead he said, “I begin by vacuuming.”

At that point our little family history room needed far more than a good vacuuming. And yet I could feel that I was not supposed to spend a lot of time organizing my family history in order to create a clean, uncluttered environment. I had taken that approach before for decades, over and over again, and yet with all of my sorting and filing, I had not made even a small dent in what my grandmother had given me.

Most tragic of all, I had not given even one new ancestor the privilege of making covenants with God and receiving essential saving and exalting ordinances. Elder Scott’s message compelled me to do something different this time.

So without going into details, let me just say that inexpensive, ready-made white curtains hide a multitude of boxes. Working in silence in such an environment led me to pray, “Please lead me to those who are ready to make covenants with Thee and receive their ordinances.” That prayer opened the heavens for me and helped me feel which branches, limbs, and sometimes even twigs I should pursue.

I remember one night I was teetering out on a twig on my family tree, and wondering what was I doing way out there, when suddenly a woman on that twig married a man on a twig from two nights before. I can still feel the joy of noting their marriage date and place so they could be sealed as husband and wife.

My dear brothers and sisters, this work is indeed a spiritual work. When Elder Scott said, “Perhaps you have been prompted to look for ancestors but you feel that you are not a genealogist. Can you see that you don’t have to be anymore?” I believed him. And that truth has helped me so much.

Whenever I hit a tough spot or dead end in my research and wish I had more genealogical skills, I remind myself, “Wendy, you don’t have to be a genealogist.” Because of that prayer that I say as I begin each of my research sessions, “Please lead me to those who are ready to make covenants with Thee and receive their ordinances,” whenever I have a block and can’t find the information which would qualify a person for his ordinances, I think about the possibilities behind the block.

Could it be that this person has not yet been taught by the missionaries on the other side of the veil and has not yet embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ? Could that be the reason for the block? So I move on to someone else who has been taught and is now ready to make covenants and receive their ordinances.

I’ll come back to that other person later.

When Elder Scott said, “Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life?” well, as a not-so-young person, I absolutely did. And I determined right then to do as much family history research as possible in order to keep the adversary’s destructive deceptions out of our home.

When Elder Scott taught that some sacrifice would be involved, I believed him, but what could I possibly sacrifice? And then he counseled, “Set aside those things in your life that don’t really matter. Decide to do something that will have eternal consequences.”

I wanted to do just that, but I could not imagine what I could set aside. I thought I was using my time really well on things that really mattered. I was certainly exhausted enough. And wasn’t that an indication? And then I remembered the time I spent by myself playing Scrabble on my iPad. I didn’t think that little bit of time could make any difference. But I set Scrabble aside for two months.

Now, that may not seem like much of a sacrifice, but for me, as someone who has sometimes felt a little fun-deprived, I was giving up a bit of harmless fun.

Sheri Dew:

So for three years now, Wendy has been intensely involved in family history research. She may not want me to say this, but to give you an idea about the scope of her work, she has found more than 10,000 names, and each name has been sourced and merged, whatever that means. Apparently it’s important. And she has found those names on family lines where, supposedly, most of the work had already been done. Have you heard that before?

So Wendy, we’re here for you to teach us. What do you know today that you didn’t know three years ago when you listened to Elder Scott and heard the message and began?

Wendy Nelson:

Well, actually I learned several things in just the first two weeks of this new approach to family history. First, I learned that those on the other side of the veil are very much alive and actually not that cheerful about being called dead. You’ve had experiences as you’ve helped my ancestors.

Sheri Dew:

I have. Not very long ago I was in my office, buried with work and a very packed day, but the name of a woman whose initiatory I had done just a couple of days before—her name was Eliza—kept flashing through my mind.

I mean, actually it was more like she was yanking on my collar. And for several hours she did not let up. It was just incessant. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. So I rearranged my schedule for the afternoon and slipped across the street to the Salt Lake Temple to perform her endowment. Her insistence that day was absolutely palpable.

Then, just a few days ago, I did the initiatory for a mother and her four daughters. I did the mother’s first, and then I put the daughters in age of their birth. And I didn’t really sense anything unusual when I did the mother’s initiatory, but the minute I started helping her eldest daughter, I knew the mother was there, almost as though she had come to make sure that all of her daughters’ work was done and that it was done correctly.

Not only could I tell she was there; I could sense the love this mother has for her girls. It was such a tender experience for me and for the ordinance workers. So, clearly, those on the other side are alive. So what else have you learned?

Wendy Nelson:

Well, I’ve learned just what your two examples have taught us—that those on the other side are eager— well, actually they’re desperate for their ordinances to be performed, and many know when and where their ordinances will take place.

One Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my cell phone and recorded my husband telling of this experience, which means so much to him and to me.

[Video]

Wendy Nelson:

Do you remember the wonderful day we had found 76 ancestors?

President Nelson:

Yes, you’d given me 76 cards for people who needed baptism and confirmation ordinances performed. And so I took those and left them with the folks at the desk and returned later on at the close of the day when my meetings were over. And when I came back to retrieve those cards, I was greeted by a committee of people who wanted to tell me what happened that day.

Apparently one of the young women had received the name of Annie McIntyre, and when that name was called out in the baptismal font, she shouted out, “I know her. She came to me last night in my dream. And she said I was going to be baptized for her that very day in the temple.”

Then again, when it was time for the confirmation to be done, the same young woman got that same name, Annie McIntyre, and she said, “I had the feeling like she was there, approving of the ordinances that had been performed for her.”

There’s a great feeling of accomplishment when those vicarious ordinances are performed. Those people are ready. They’re waiting. They’re anxious.

Wendy Nelson:

Anything else you want to add about family history work?

President Nelson:

Well, may I say something that you wouldn’t want me to say? But I have noticed a difference in you. When you’re immersed in this work, serving others on the other side of the veil, you are a happy girl. And of course, you’re always happy. You’re always wonderful, but there’s a special spirit about you when you’ve been involved in redemption of these folks who are on the other side of the veil, who are yearning for their ordinances to be done.

Wendy Nelson:

Thank you, dear.

Sheri Dew:

Don’t you love that? I love that. One of the reasons I love that story is that it shows yet again the spiritual strength of our young women. They can dream dreams. They can receive revelation. I just love everything about that. OK. What else have you learned?

Wendy Nelson:

Sheri, didn’t you give a general conference talk entitled “Are We Not All Mothers?” Well, after just the first two weeks of my feeble attempts at family history, I was ready to write the book Are We Not All Cousins? Because here I am with deep Scottish and Swiss roots, but one day as I was researching, something like this happened. An ancestor married a man whose mother was Italian.

Suddenly I felt a great connection to Italy and found myself craving ravioli.

It makes me think of this photo of my husband and me at the famous banyan tree on the north shore of Oahu. Talk about roots and branches.

Sheri Dew:

I’ve been to that same banyan tree, and it is amazing. Young banyan plants put out aerial roots, which then put out secondary roots, and on and on. Over time that one tree can become a family of trees.

In many Asian countries, banyan trees are actually planted at places where they know families and communities will gather, so that they can enjoy the protection and shade of the tree. I just think it’s a wonderful metaphor for the fact that what begins as one couple can lead to endless posterity and that the extended family can provide great protection to every member of that family.

Wendy, I know there’s something else you’ve learned, because I’ve witnessed it too. I’ve been watching it too. It’s that when the Lord knows you’re serious about family history— which He knows, she’s serious about family history—people show up to help. I remember, very early on, you coming back from the Bountiful Temple, having had an amazing experience there. Would you share that with us?

Wendy Nelson:

I’d love to. Actually, I went to the Bountiful Temple to help one of my ancestors receive her endowment. And I thought while I was there, I would have ordinance cards printed off from my second-ever Family Ordinance Request form.

I intended to dash home right after that. However, with those ordinance cards in my hand, I could feel I was not to leave the temple without having those people baptized. The temple worker who welcomed me to the baptistry apologized that there were no proxies there who could help me. It was a Wednesday afternoon, and all the youth were still in school.

So I asked if I could go sit by the font. I could feel that I was not to leave the temple. There I was, alone, praying by the baptismal font. I prayed, “If it is important for these people to be baptized today, please send the proxies.”

Shortly, a man and a woman, a boy and girl came and sat right in front of me. I assumed they were there to do their own family names. I didn’t know if I dared ask them to help me, but for my ancestors, I’m willing to do almost anything. So I leaned forward and with some hesitation asked, “Do you have your own family names to do?”

The man, whom I’ve never met, answered, “No, Sister Nelson, we believe we are here to help you.”

Sheri Dew:

Wendy came home from that experience just amazed and thrilled with what had happened. And since then she’s seen that proxies are often very literally heaven-sent. Plus, she’s basically enlisted and prevailed upon every single person we know—friends, her family and mine, neighbors, and, of course, ward members. She got her Relief Society sisters involved. I think she even motivated the high priests to do some work.

And the youth—that’s not coming down on high priests, by the way. And the youth in our ward have helped a lot.

Wendy Nelson:

All of that is true. Listen to what our Young Men’s president, Brother Dave Wolfgramm, had to say.

[Video]

Wendy Nelson:

Brother Wolfgramm, you’ve been a bishop, a stake president, a mission president in Milan, Italy. Your calling presently in our ward is?

Dave Wolfgramm:

Young Men’s president.

Wendy Nelson:

Can you speak about that?

Dave Wolfgramm:

We tried to get a little more serious about our family history work. We just weren’t consistent at getting names and then going to the temple. And then, Sister Nelson, you came along and asked us if we would do family history work, and so we decided as a quorum that we would go to the temple monthly and do family history work.

And I think another thing that helped with this consistency is that we go to the temple at 5:00 a.m. And parents have expressed concern that their young men aren’t going to get the necessary rest. And yet I have never heard one young man say how tired they’d been that day—in fact, just the opposite. And I can testify for myself that it’s not just the youth. The energy I expend to get up in the morning, it’s added to during the day.

This family history work we’re doing at the temple—it’s not just work. We’re actually bringing salvation, opening the door for salvation to those who have passed on, because they aren’t names. They’re real people.

Sheri Dew:

Brother Wolfgramm had the same experience taking those young men at 5:00 a.m. as I had as a Laurel adviser taking young women. I learned through that experience an interesting thing—that it’s actually easier to motivate someone to do something difficult, like get up and go to the temple at 5:00 a.m., than it is to motivate them to do something easy.

I think that’s because our spirits are divinely endowed with the desire to progress. Accepting righteous challenges is part of the Lord’s plan for each of us.

Wendy Nelson:

So Sheri, do you think there’s any chance that that particular principle—that it’s actually easier to get someone to do something difficult than something easy—could in any way apply to you and family history?

Sheri Dew:

You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

Wendy Nelson:

I also interviewed one of the young priests in our ward, who was proxy for my ancestors. Let’s hear what Kade Larson has to say.

[Video]

Wendy Nelson:

So tell me your name?

Kade Larson:

I am Kade Larson.

Wendy Nelson:

And you are how old?

Kade Larson:

Kade Larson I’m 16 years old.

Wendy Nelson:

Tell me about the first time you ever did proxy work for our ancestors. Do you remember the first time?

Kade Larson:

Yes, I can. I remember. I was 14 and I was a new teacher, and I remember hearing about, in quorum, that we were going to go—try and go to the temple on Tuesday morning at 5:00 a.m. And I don’t know if I’m going to get up or not. And I woke up and I went, and I remember that I had—it was just the greatest time I’ve ever had. It was amazing. I just felt the Spirit so strong. And it was actually my first time going to the temple.

My life changed drastically, like I felt like I could just do a lot more, and that when I read my scriptures, it was a lot more meaningful. And I remember that I had football after school, too, and that I didn’t feel tired. Nothing happened. I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a while. It was great. It all started with going to the temple in the morning.

Sheri Dew:

Kade is a perfect example of why we want our youth serving as proxies in the temple, because the temple changes them. They get to serve and help someone else, but through serving, they are changed. We’ve seen this again and again and not just from the youth in our ward, but in the lives of many of the young adults in the institute class where Wendy and I used to team teach.

Wendy Nelson:

Let me just add that several of those institute students have now started to find their own family names by doing their own work on FamilySearch. So now they are totally involved.

Sheri Dew:

Let us just share the comments from just one of these institute students. We could—I think Wendy could show you countless emails, but here’s one email that came from a young adult woman that was in our class. She said, “Everything about my life has changed. My life has changed completely. My temple experiences are much more meaningful. I have more spiritual experiences, and I have learned more about those on the other side of the veil and how the Spirit communicates with me. I have more peace and power to deal with trials and greater ability to receive revelation. It has helped everyone around me, especially my family. I’m even a better nurse. People at work have even talked to me about it.”

Family history and temple work change us. That’s what this young adult woman just told us. And I have to say that—could I just add something to what President Nelson said about you?

Wendy Nelson:

You mean that I’m such a happy person?

Sheri Dew:

That you’re such a happy person generally, but happier, of course, when you’re doing family history. I’ve seen the dramatic impact—and it is dramatic—that family history has had on Wendy. I’ve seen a softening in terms of her attitude about certain things. The work has energized her, and perhaps most of all, she’s been strengthened to handle the unique stress and the demands of her life.

The Lord seems to be showering His grace upon her, and the changes have been striking. Now, is there anything else you’d like to share about what you have learned?

Wendy Nelson:

Well, I’ve learned that family history research is really fun. It’s actually even more fun than Scrabble. More fun than anything I used to do to have a little R&R.

Sheri Dew:

More fun than reruns of Monk and Matlock? And I’ve told you a lot about her by telling you that.

Wendy Nelson:

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? But yes. Now, for me, super-sleuthing a mother’s maiden name trumps watching any detective movie I used to enjoy. And no one is more surprised than I that I feel this way.

Sheri Dew:

So brothers and sisters, what we’re really saying today is that the combination of family history and temple work has a unique power to build faith and testimony, because when all is said and done, this work is all about people. It’s about giving every one of our Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters the chance to make covenants and receive saving, exalting ordinances. It’s all about helping His children return home to Him.

You know, the older I get, the more real the eternal nature of our lives becomes to me. For example, Wendy and I are often asked how we met and how long we’ve known each other. Well, there are a couple ways to answer that, probably. One way would be to say that we met 19 years ago. Another is to say that we’ve known each other for eons.

We are talking today and have been talking about families and how priceless those relationships are. But one of Heavenly Father’s most generous gifts to me has been my friends. I love my friends. I’m so grateful for them. And I’m so grateful, in a special way, for this friend.

Wendy Nelson:

When I met Sheri, I finally understood what Elder Orson F. Whitney taught: “Why are we drawn to certain persons, and they to us, as if we had always known each other? … We believe … ties formed in this life, will be continued in the life to come; then why not believe that … some of them at least, have been resumed in this stage of existence?”

You know what? No friend has ever done or would ever do what Sheri has done for me. Sheri, did I say that the way you wanted me to say that?

Sheri Dew:

Now you know a little something about our friendship, right? That’s how that goes most of the time. The bottom line is that this mortal life is just a small slice of our eternal existence. We all know that. Today we’ve talked primarily about how eager those living on the other side of the veil are for our help.

But Wendy and I have come to appreciate just how eager those living on the other side are to help us. President Joseph F. Smith taught something truly profound when he said this:

“When messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred [and] friends.... In like manner, our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they have learned to love in the flesh.”

Wendy Nelson:

Well, I know that’s true. Sometimes I hear counsel that sounds a whole lot like my mother.

Sheri Dew:

What we’re saying is that Wendy and I believe in angels. We believed Elder Holland when he said, “Ask for angels to help you.” Think about that. Ask for angels to help you. Then we believed him also when he said that angels could be dispatched to help us, and then he explained further: “Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.”

We have both had far too many experiences with those from the other side of the veil to ever doubt their presence or their involvement in our lives. If you want to have a truly great experience, read the Book of Mormon again, marking every time angels ministered to someone here on earth. Pay attention to why they came, what they taught, what they did to minister to a mortal man or woman, and the difference it made in those people’s lives.

Wendy Nelson:

I taught Elder Holland’s teachings to our institute students, and one, whom I’ll call Barbara, followed through with Elder Holland’s counsel with amazing results. Barbara has served as proxy for many of my ancestors. She had special proxy experiences with a woman named Genevieve and with Genevieve’s biological sisters. So Barbara prayed and asked if Genevieve and her sisters, all who live on the other side of the veil, could be dispatched to help Barbara’s own sister who lives on this side of the veil.

Barbara’s sister had not been active in the Church for years. She was having heart-wrenching difficulties with some really rigorous life events. Here are Barbara’s own words: “I prayed that my sister could find peace in this world, that she could find direction back to Heavenly Father, and that the sisters of Genevieve could help her find her way back and watch over her in this process.

A few weeks later, my sister told me that she was taking her three boys to Church. Later she asked how to get her patriarchal blessing. The eldest boy turned eight this summer and was baptized. And my sister is now attending temple preparation classes.” I find that just so thrilling.

Sheri Dew:

What Barbara was describing in every respect is a miracle. How can we explain miracles? Moroni told us, “My beloved [brothers]”—and may I add sisters—”have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. … And the office of their ministry is to call men”—and, I believe, women— “[to] repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father” (Moroni 7:29, 31).

Wendy Nelson:

Here’s what I know to be true. Family history and temple work will bring miracles to your life and to the lives of those you love.

My dear brothers and sisters, we have loved our time with you today. And in closing, I just want to add that there is an urgency that accompanies this work. Many of you have felt it.

My sense of urgency revved up because of what I experienced on June 15, 2013. On that day my husband and I woke up in Moscow, Russia, and ended the day in Yerevan, Armenia. That morning I was privileged to gather with our wonderful Russian sisters for a sisters’ meeting. When I asked our sisters to stand as the name of a tribe of Israel as declared in their patriarchal blessing was announced, we were all surprised and overwhelmed to realize that eleven of the twelve tribes of Israel were represented in that little gathering of less than 100 women. All but Levi were present.

Later that day in Armenia, my husband and I met a young missionary who was of the tribe of Levi. He just happened to be from Gilbert, Arizona. So think of this. Within one 24-hour period of time. I was with children from all of the twelve tribes of Israel. I couldn’t believe it then, and I can’t get over it yet.

These are indeed the latter days. Israel is being gathered on both sides of the veil. There’s never been a time like this in the history of this earth, ever. And this is our time to do what we covenanted premortally to do. We promised premortally to help our family members who would never have a chance to hear the gospel here on earth.

Now, as my husband and I travel, we see many signs. There is one in every airport that chokes me up every time: “Ticketed passengers only beyond this point.” I immediately think of those on the other side of the veil who are in prison, unable to move forward with their lives, unable to progress, to grow, to ever be with their families unless something changes. The only way for those prisoners to become ticketed passengers is by our efforts to find their qualifying information and then to perform their proxy ordinances.

Those essential, exalting ordinances are the ticket they need for eternal life. We are the ones who can turn our ancestors and our cousins into ticketed passengers. And now is the time for each of us to find joy as we find, take, and teach.

It is my testimony, my dear brothers and sisters, that family history and temple work is the Lord’s work. We know He can do His own work. So just think of how generous He is to let us participate.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sheri Dew:

I have admitted today that I’ve been a slacker about family history. But I haven’t been a slacker about temple worship and temple service. The pressures and disappointments of my life would have crushed me long ago if it weren’t for being in the temple a lot. I’ve learned for myself that the promises in the 109th section of the Doctrine of Covenants are true—that when we emerge from the temple, we emerge armed with power; that it is in the temple that we grow up in the Lord and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost; that the temple is a house of knowledge and revelation and peace. The temple puts this world and everything in it in perspective.

If you haven’t yet established a pattern of regular temple service, and if you live within a reasonable distance of a temple, may I say to you what my stake president said to me several decades ago, before I started to attend regularly. He said, “Sheri, just go. Go and see what the Lord will teach you. It’ll change your life.” And it has.

These last few years I have loved, as I’ve been going to the temple, helping so many of my dearest friend’s family. But I know that the temple would mean even more to me if the names were from my own line. So Elder Renlund, with Grandma Dew and thousands of witnesses, I accept the challenge. I don’t know how. I’ll make it work.

I’m not busy really between midnight and 5:00 a.m., and Wendy tells me that’s often heaven’s time, so maybe that’s when it’ll be. There may be some of you here who are slackers, too, and not because you’re not deeply committed to the Lord, but just because you haven’t figured out how to make it fit, like I haven’t. So my question today, and really my invitation, is, will you join me? Will you join me in accepting Elder Renlund’s challenge to find as many names as ordinances you perform?

If we will all begin and just try, I wonder how many people we can bless on both sides of the veil. I never get over the magnificence and the majesty, the power and the saving nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the work of the Lord, and I testify that the work of salvation is the only work that will ultimately matter. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.