President Russell M. and Sister Wendy Nelson

RootsTech Family Discovery Day—Opening Session 2017


 

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President Nelson:

Brothers and sisters, Wendy and I are delighted to be with you today. We love families, we love temple and family history work, and we love you.

Sister Nelson:

And we love playing Scrabble together. Today we'd like to invite you to share a moment of Scrabble with us as we talk about temple and family history work.

President Nelson:

Please come with us to our RootsTech kitchen. You'll enjoy seeing Wendy beat me with her brilliant, winning plays.

Sister Nelson:

Are you kidding? You're the one who gets 176 points for one word.

We usually play Scrabble on one of our iPads, so let's see how many words related to temple and family history work we can spell.

President Nelson:

I just spelled "family." I'm so lucky I had all the right tiles.

Sister Nelson:

That's the perfect word, honey, to start us off. Why don't we begin by introducing the Nelson family to our RootsTech audience? Do you remember when we met with the county clerk three days before we were married?

President Nelson:

Oh, yeah, I do.

Sister Nelson:

I knew I was marrying a man with a large family, but the reality of just how large that family was never really sank in until, as we were waiting for the county clerk to arrive, you pulled out a list from your desk drawer and added the newest great-grandchild to that list. When I heard what number in your posterity he was, I knew what number I would be. Now, that was quite a reality check. And now almost 11 years later, your posterity has almost doubled. This is a cottage industry that is booming.

President Nelson:

Isn't that marvelous? Dantzel and I were only two people where we started out, and then we were blessed with 10 children. That made 12 in our family. But the size of a family is not the important issue. The important thing is that we are a family.

Sister Nelson:

Oh, I agree. My parents, Leonard David Watson and Laura Byrd McLean Watson, were thrilled to have three living children—my older sister, Kathy; my younger sister, Virginia; and me—because my mother had several miscarriages and two baby boys died.

President Nelson:

Each child is so precious, whether there's one or two or more in the family.

Sister Nelson:

Well, you and Dantzel raised 10 really great children, and now those children are raising great children, and many of those grandchildren are now raising their own great children. Here we are at your 90th birthday. That was such a wonderful celebration. You know, because Dantzel and you taught them so well, those little families are remarkably self-reliant because they are reliant on the Lord. That has to be such a comfort to you.

President Nelson:

It really is. As the patriarch of this ever-growing family, I'm grateful that we have wonderful fathers and mothers who are busily engaged in righteous, intentional parenting. This is not to suggest somehow we've escaped the vicissitudes of life, because we have not. We've had our share of sorrows, including chronic and life-threatening illnesses and the deaths of my dear wife Dantzel and our daughter Emily. We've experienced the anguish of divorce and the grief that comes when family members struggle with what they believe.

Sister Nelson:

Our hearts ache for those who struggle spiritually. I was thinking about them, especially when we made a huge spiral at our Christmas gathering. Think of this: If all of your posterity gathered together, and if everyone held hands and stretched out in a long line, the length would be longer than a football field—actually, almost two.

Can you imagine what each person might feel? Each would be only able to see a few people to the right and to the left. Each person could feel quite alone. Alone in a crowd, not really connected to anyone. But at our Christmas gathering, we held hands and spiraled in. That was pretty fun.

President Nelson:

There was such a great feeling of togetherness. Do you remember what little eight-year-old Whitney said she felt when she was in the spiral? She said, "I felt comforted."

Sister Nelson:

Out of the mouths of babes.

President Nelson:

With such a large family, we've tried to keep them close. Our monthly Nelson News is important to us. Each family contributes highlights of the past month. This helps us keep up to date on what's happening in each of our lives, and it also becomes our family history. At our monthly Nelson family gatherings, we celebrate all the birthdays and anniversaries for that month.

Sister Nelson:

And then there are the smaller family gatherings related to priesthood ordinances, everything from temple sealings to baby blessings. And let's not forget your ski days with family members during the winter season. Those are wonderful.

President Nelson:

In the document "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," we are reminded of the importance of family participation in "wholesome recreational activities." These activities will vary widely and will depend upon what each family enjoys doing together. Because most of our family lives in Utah, skiing has been enjoyable for us, but what we do is less important than that we do something. Activities that make family life happy and memorable are an important part of righteous, intentional parenting.

Sister Nelson:

The family truly can be a place for everything from safety and refuge to fun and happiness, and that shouldn't surprise us because of what we believe about the sanctity of the family.

President Nelson:

Absolutely. And I just spelled a name that explains why the family is so important: Elijah.

Sister Nelson:

Wait, I thought Scrabble wouldn't allow proper names. How did you do that?

President Nelson:

Well, this Scrabble game allows proper names. I think it knows we need to talk about Elijah. There's great significance in the name, Elijah. The name EL-I-JAH in Hebrew literally means "My God is Jehovah." Think of it! Embedded in Elijah's names are the Hebrew terms for both the Father and the Son.

Sister Nelson:

Wow, that's really something to think about. Elijah was the last prophet to hold the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood before the time of Jesus Christ. Elijah's mission was to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children, so they could be sealed, or else "the whole earth would be utterly wasted." (Joseph Smith—History 1:39). That's pretty strong language: "Utterly wasted"?

President Nelson:

It is very strong language. And it tells us just how crucial family history and temple work really are.

Sister Nelson:

I really like the way you've spoken about the spirit of Elijah.

President Nelson:

I like to think about the spirit of Elijah as "a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family." (Russell M. Nelson, “A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34).

Sister Nelson:

So when we say that the spirit of Elijah is moving upon people to encourage them to seek after their kindred dead, we're really saying that the Holy Ghost is prompting us to do those things that will allow families to be sealed eternally.

President Nelson:

That's exactly right. And Wendy, you do so much to fortify families on both sides of the veil. You're always doing something to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to their children, so that sacred ordinances can be performed.

Sister Nelson:

Well, speaking of hearts, you were certainly turning the hearts of the children to their fathers when you told some family members about a very unique episode in your family history: the visit of your deceased great-grandfather to his son, who was still here on the earth.

President Nelson:

Oh, yes. And that makes me think of the word stories. I wanted to tell the family about my Grandfather Nelson and the precious gift he gave to us. His name is Andrew Clarence Nelson. They called him A. C. He died when my father was 17 years old, so I never knew my Grandfather Nelson. He's the only one of my four grandparents I did not know. When my Grandfather A. C. Nelson was a young husband and father, just 27 years old, his father died. Then, about three months later, his father, now deceased, came to visit him. The date of that visit was the night of April 6, 1891. Grandfather Nelson was so impressed by his father's visit that he wrote the experience in his own journal for his family and his friends. And thanks to your encouragement, I took his journal entry and created this document and made copies of this document for every member of the family.

Listen to my grandfather's words about that sacred experience:

"I was in bed when Father entered the room. He came and sat on the side of the bed. He said, 'Well, my son, as I had a few spare minutes I received permission to come and see you for a few minutes. I am feeling well, my son, and have had very much to do since I died.'

"'What have you been doing since you died, Father?'

"'I've been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died. That is, since three days after I died. I received my commission to preach the gospel. You cannot imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the spirit world that have not yet received the gospel. But many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends who are still living to administer for them in the temples. I've been very busy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.'

"'Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we're doing?'

"'Oh, no, my son. I have something else to do. I cannot go when and where I please. There is just as much and much more order here in the spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work to do, and it must be performed.'

"'We intend to go to the temple and get sealed to you, Father, as soon as we can.'

"'That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout eternity.'

"'Father, is it natural to die?'

"'It is just as natural to die as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door.' And here he pointed at the door. 'When I told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the spirit world. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong. But it makes no particular difference. Correct records are kept here.'"

Sister Nelson:

I can't tell you how many times that statement from your great-grandfather has helped me with my family history research. Sometimes two people by the very same name can live in the very same town around the very same time period. It can be almost impossible to figure out who is who. However, with your great-grandfather's statement ringing in my ears that correct records are kept on the other side, I do the very best I can and then I move on.

President Nelson:

I'm glad that my great-grandfather's visit has helped you, Wendy.

Sister Nelson:

Thanks.

President Nelson:

Now here is a little bit more:

"'Father, is the gospel as taught by this Church true?'

"'My son, do you see that picture?' Pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall.

"'Yes, I see it.'

"'Just as sure as you see that picture, just as sure is the gospel true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain salvation in the kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that would displease God. Oh, what a blessing is the gospel. My son, be a good boy.'"

Sister Nelson:

I just love all those "be's." "Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. ... Be a good boy." Six "be's" brought to you by your departed great-grandfather. He certainly sounds a lot like President Gordon B. Hinckley, with his six "be's."

President Nelson:

He does, doesn't he. It's so precious to me that my grandfather would leave that record for us. We learned that his children were subsequently sealed to him. So the reason for that visit was accomplished.

Sister Nelson:

After you read that document to the family, we asked what stood out for them. Remember some of their responses?

President Nelson:

Jordan, whose mother has already gone through this?

Jordan:

My favorite thing, I think, was learning about how much missionary work that our ancestors do. Sometimes when I'm in the temple, I can feel my mom very close to me, and other times I can't. And now I know why, because she's got others to take care of.

President Nelson:

My grandfather's visit with his departed father happened 27 years before President Joseph F. Smith's vision of the redemption of the dead, dated 1918. That vision has become section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants. From President Smith's experience, he taught that the faithful elders continue doing missionary work after they depart from this mortal life. And I'm sure that's not just the elders. It would be the sisters, too. So many of our sisters are exceptional missionaries. So I'm sure that Jordan's mother, our dear Emily, is busy preaching the gospel over there.

Let's review a few more responses from the family.

Lindsay, what do you think?

Lindsay:

I just think with that, you know, they're so busy on the other side. But what a special thing that we have this experience, that those things were said and shared and then later written down for all of us to know and have and continue to share.

President Nelson:

Well, Grandfather felt this was very sacred. And he said, "I write it for the benefit of my family and friends." And now that I'm a General Authority of the Church, I assume everybody in the world is part of my family. And so I share it with you tonight.

Sister Nelson:

Other thoughts or feelings?

Nelson Family:

I do. I just liked how, I think sometimes we get caught up in feeling like there's a lot of things to do, a lot of things that we have to make sure we're trying to do in order to seem worthy. But he just says simply, "Just don't do anything that would displease God." And that is so sweet and simple.

"Be a good boy." "Be a good boy." "Be a good boy."

Sister Nelson:

Just think, that particular family history document spans seven generations. You were able to tell little Whitney, who was sitting right there by you, about her great-great-great-great-grandfather. That's amazing.

President Nelson:

Well, Wendy, you did the same thing recently with your great-nieces and great-nephews in Canada. You gave them that wonderful faith-promoting story about their great-great-great-great-grandmother Sarah.

Sister Nelson:

I did. I took a true experience from the life of Sarah Elizabeth Daggett Rosenberg and turned it into a children's story called The Power of Sarah's Prayer. I invited all 17 of my great-nieces and nephews, ages 3 years to 18 years, to help illustrate the story. And then I had the story and illustrations made into this little children's book. Gabrielle, age 16, drew this illustration for the cover. I used as my source material audio-recorded interviews I conducted with my grandmother when I was in my 20s, just a few years ago. We won't say how many.

I'll play for you a few sections of one of those interviews and show you a few pages from the storybook. You'll hear my grandmother Hazel Marie Rosenberg Kunz McLean telling me about her grandmother Sarah.

One evening, Sarah's husband, Ephraim, brought home two Mormon elders because they were hungry and had nothing to eat. "Mormon missionaries?" Sarah thought. She was not too pleased about that. In her little Iowa town, she had heard terrible things about the Mormons and what they believed.

She asked them for dinner and she said, "I just asked them." My grandmother was very blunt, that how such two well-appearing young men like they were belonged to such a notorious church.

One of the elders replied, "Mrs. Rosenberg, we would like to share with you and your husband what we believe. We have some tracts for you to read. Would you be willing to read them? We could return and talk with you more then." Sarah, who was always up for a challenge, said, "Young men, if I read your tracts and I can convince you that you are wrong, will you join my church?"

And they said, "Certainly, Mrs. Rosenberg." And then one elder, a little slyer than the other, says, "Now, if we can convince you that you're wrong and we're right, will you join my Church?" And Grandma said she laughed in their face, just to think that they thought they could. So she said that she reached her hand across the table and shook hands on that, to.

The next day, Sarah started reading. And much to her surprise, she couldn't stop. Everything was so interesting. Everything felt so right. She read and she read and she read. And she was so interested that she forgot to get Ephraim's dinner. When Sarah heard her husband come in the front door, she was surprised. "Eph, you won't believe this. I've been reading these missionary tracts ever since you left this morning. I have to read them to you. What the Mormons believe is so interesting, and they have all the Bible references right here. You make dinner, and I'll read to you."

Now, as a man who was about one-half Jewish and from the Pennsylvania Dutch, Ephraim was not accustomed to making dinner. But there was something about the way Sarah looked and how she sounded when talking about those tracts that somehow made it easy for him to say, "OK." So that night, Sarah read and Ephraim cooked. And they talked about what Sarah had read while they ate what Ephraim had cooked. And the next night, Sarah read some more and Ephraim cooked some more.

And this went on for several weeks, and she was converted. And she read to my grandfather, and she asked him what he thought about it. And he said he thought it was true, but he would rather go to hell with the dunkers than with the Mormons to heaven. So my grandmother says, "You've made your choice; now I'll make mine. I'm going to join the Mormon Church." But Grandpa found out that the elders wouldn't baptize her without his consent, and he wouldn't give it. So he had Grandma over a barrel, but he didn't know the power of prayer. And Grandmother told me that she prayed and she prayed and she prayed.

And Ephraim continued to refuse to give his consent for Sarah to be baptized. And Sarah became even more desperate to become a member of the Lord's true Church. So one hot night in June, Sarah prayed a different prayer. She prayed, "Please remove every obstacle so that I can join the Mormon Church."

And so that night in the middle of the night, she was rudely awakened by her two teenage sons, shaking her, telling her to come downstairs, that Grandpa was dying.

Now, Sarah was normally a very light sleeper. The slightest sound always woke her up. And yet that night, as her husband moaned and groaned with pain so loudly that her sons, who were sleeping in another part of the house, came running, Sarah heard nothing.

So she jumped out of bed, and she said when she came downstairs, she could hear Grandfather moaning and groaning, and he was in terrible agony. She said she could tell that. And she said when she opened the door, everything she had prayed for came to her mind:

"Please remove every obstacle so that I can join the Mormon Church." As soon as she remembered her prayers, Sarah exclaimed, "Oh, no! Not like that." And in that very moment every pain in Ephraim's body left.

Later, Ephraim asked, "Sarah, were you praying for me to die so that you could join the Mormon Church?"

"No, I wasn't praying that you would die," Sarah responded. "But I was praying that every obstacle could be removed so that I could be baptized."

"Sarah," said Ephraim, "You can join the Mormon Church. Just don't pray like that any more." And one morning about daybreak, Ephraim drove Sarah and the two elders in the surrey with a little fringe on top to the river so Sarah could be baptized.

President Nelson:

That is such a great story. And now those children can read it whenever they want. It will help them understand the power of prayer, and it will link them to Sarah to her faith. We've got a couple of pages of the children's reflections after they read and illustrated Sarah's story.

Sister Nelson:

Oh, yes. That's the really fun part of the book. I asked them several questions, including if there was anything they wanted to do after reading and thinking about Sarah's story. Their responses were inspiring. Everything from "It makes me want to read my scriptures every morning and night," to "I feel like I can stand up to people, even people I love, just like Sarah did, if they are stopping me from doing what is right." And this one was priceless. From Allison, age 14 (quote): "I told Sarah's story to a friend at school. My friend thought it was cool that Sarah's prayer was answered. We started to have a conversation about the Church. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this conversation happened during math class when we were supposed to be studying" (end quote).

President Nelson:

It's wonderful to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers by telling important family history stories in ways that are accessible and memorable. In Mosiah chapter 1 verse 5, King Benjamin teaches us the importance of keeping and preserving sacred things so that we can have them always before our eyes.

Perhaps having family history documents, stories, photos, and memorabilia always before our eyes can strengthen our testimonies. As we place them on the walls of our homes, on our tables, on our computers, iPads, or even on our cell phones, maybe we will be prompted to make better choices and draw closer to the Lord and to our families. However, if we leave it at that level, we haven't really done enough.

Here's the next word for me: "detours." As Church members, our interest in family history work has been motivated by instruction from the Lord that our ancestors cannot be made perfect without us, and we cannot be made perfect without them. That means we are to be linked together by the sacred sealing ordinances of the temple. We are to be strong links in the chain from our ancestors to our posterity. If our collections of stories and photos should ever become an end point in themselves—if we know who our ancestors are, know marvelous things about them, but we leave them stranded on the other side without their ordinances—such diversion will not be of any help to our ancestors who remain confined in their spirit prison.

Sister Nelson:

Oh, you are so right. Preserving ancestral stories is important, but it should never be at the expense of completing our ancestors' ordinance work. We need to make time to find our ancestors' ordinance-qualifying information.

President Nelson:

And that means sacrificing time we normally spend on other activities. We need to be spending more time in the temple and in doing family history research, which includes indexing. I love this photo of us with three of the children we love who live in Canada. They are indexing. Natalie, Logan, and Laura. I believe their grandmother—your sister Kathy—inspired them and taught them. Doesn't Kathy have a goal of indexing 100 names a day? Or indexing 2,000 names a month?

Sister Nelson:

Yes, that's her goal. And every time I open an indexed family history record on FamilySearch or Ancestry.com, I'm so grateful for people like Kathy and Natalie and Logan and Laura who are willing to give up some of their time so they can index. That leads us to the next word, sacrifice.

President Nelson:

Wendy, because of your sacrifices of time in doing temple and family history work, just this past year, you blessed a lot more ancestors' lives, proxies' lives, our lives, and our home.

Sister Nelson:

Well, it brings me such joy. At last year's RootsTech, I told the story about one of the sacrifices I made to experiment with family history research. I gave up playing Scrabble by myself for two weeks so I could invest that time in family history. I didn't think that would make any difference. Well, that little bit of time connected me with family history in a manner I had never experienced before. That sacrifice actually changed my life, so much so that I completely gave up playing Scrabble by myself.

Sacrifice does indeed bring forth the blessings of heaven. I was blessed to find so many ancestors who were desperate to make covenants with God and to receive their essential ordinances. And over time, I realized that if I was working on an overwhelming project and I was out of time, out of energy, out of ideas, if I would make a sacrifice of time by finding the ordinance-qualifying information for some ancestors, or by going to the temple to be proxy for them, the heavens opened, and the energy and ideas started flowing, and somehow I had enough time to meet the deadline. Totally impossible. And it would happen every time.

President Nelson:

And through that sacrifice of time, you became even a better Scrabble player.

Sister Nelson:

See how God blessed me?

But seriously, family history and temple work bring me a joy that is truly not of this world. This year on Mother's Day, after we had a great time with family members on this side of the veil, I wanted to do something to connect with my mother who lives on the other side. What happened really surprised me.

Over and over, my prayers and my family history searching on that Sunday afternoon led me to one baby after another who needed help. Each one had never been sealed to his or her parents, and after being led to about 10 infants in various families, I stopped and took note of the pattern that had emerged.

At that moment, I imagined my mother talking to a group of mothers who also lost their children in infancy. I pictured my mother with her two sons whom my parents lost as infants, Oliver Shand Watson and David McLean Watson, standing right there by her side as grown men. I could imagine my mother telling their story and recounting how grieved she was when they were suddenly taken from her after so many joyful months of anticipating their births. I could imagine my mother telling those mothers that because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, her two sons were hers forever. I could almost hear her inviting those mothers to come unto Christ and receive His gospel so they could then receive by proxy their essential ordinances and have their children sealed to them forever.

That was such a marvelous Mother's Day moment for me.

President Nelson:

I have to think that your mother was very close to you that day. How wonderful for you. Now there's something else we should talk about: the major role that family history can play in missionary work.

Sister Nelson:

I love what you teach the missionaries when we speak to them around the world.

President Nelson:

I like to tell them that if I were a missionary today, my two best friends in the ward or branch in which I would be serving would be the ward mission leader and the ward temple and family history consultant.

People have an inborn desire to know something about their ancestors. That becomes a natural opportunity for our missionaries. As the missionaries learn to love the people they are contacting, missionaries will naturally ask about their families. "Are your parents living? What about your grandparents, are they living? Do you know your four grandparents?" Conversations flow easily when those who are drawn to speak with the missionaries are invited to talk about the people that they love.

At that point it can be very natural for the missionaries to ask, "Do you know any of your great-grandparents? Do you know their names?" The probability is that they will not know the names of all eight of their great-grandparents. Then the missionaries can make this suggestion: "I have a friend at our Church who can help us. If we could find the names of some or maybe even all of your great-grandparents, would it be worth a couple of hours of your time to find out who your great-grandparents are?"

That friend at church, of course, is the ward temple and family history consultant. You know, Wendy, I think that what you often tell the missionaries is equally important. You broaden their understanding of missionary work. You offer them an eternal perspective.

Sister Nelson:

Well, I think it can be comforting for them to know that they are never alone when they are finding and teaching those who are receptive to the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. President George Q. Cannon, who was counselor to four Presidents of the Church, taught that in these latter days, those who are joining the Church are joining quite precisely because their ancestors have been praying for one of their posterity to join the Church so that they, the ancestors, can receive their essential ordinances by proxy. That's when I invite the missionaries to consider that one of their most effective prayers might be, "Please lead us to those whose ancestors have already received the gospel on the other side of the veil and who are desperate to receive their ordinances."

I also invite the missionaries to picture in their mind's eye, when they are teaching their investigators, at least 100 more people in the room. Those 100 people are, of course, the ancestors of the investigators and the ancestors of the missionaries. That's always quite a powerful moment.

President Nelson:

It really is. Now I'd like to say just a little bit more about the spiritual experience that brought all of our family members so close together. You and I held hands and started with our oldest daughter, Marcia; her husband, Richard; and they held the hands of their children and grandchildren. Then our daughter Wendy; and her husband, Norm; and their children and grandchildren joined in, and so on. And the spiral grew, linking everyone together. That makes me think about my last word, sealing.

That spiraling experience made me think about the sealing ordinances of the temple. I've had the privilege of sealing all of our children and their spouses and most of our married grandchildren to theirs. Exaltation is a family affair. Only through the saving ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ can families be exalted.

Sister Nelson:

Each class we attend, each time we serve, each covenant we make with God, each priesthood ordinance we receive, everything we do in the Church leads us to the holy temple, the house of the Lord.

President Nelson:

The ultimate end for which we strive is that we are happy as a family, endowed, sealed, and prepared for eternal life in the presence of God.

Sister Nelson:

And what makes all of that possible? The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the restoration of the sealing power. Just think, the prophet Elijah himself as a translated being bestowed the keys of sealing upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple. Honey, you hold that same sealing power, as does every temple sealer. You hold the very same sealing power that the prophet Elijah holds.

President Nelson:

According to the Bible Dictionary, "The power of Elijah is the sealing power of the priesthood by which things bound or loosed on earth are bound or loosed in heaven."

Sister Nelson:

There is so much power available for a couple and for their children through that sealing ordinance when we keep our covenants.

President Nelson:

President James E. Faust once said, "Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ's Atonement." (“Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 62).

Sister Nelson:

So no one is going to take anyone kicking and screaming into the celestial kingdom to live forever.

President Nelson:

No. We choose every day where we want to live eternally by how we think, feel, speak, and act. Our Heavenly Father has declared that His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.

Sister Nelson:

Just like earthly parents want their children to return home after important but hazardous journeys, so too our loving Heavenly Father wants us to return home to Him, clean and qualified.

President Nelson:

But He wants us to choose to return to Him. He will not, He does not force us in any way. The precision with which we keep our covenants shows Him just how much we want to return to live with Him. Each day brings us closer to or farther from our glorious possibility of eternal life.

Sister Nelson:

You know, we sing the song "Families Can Be Together Forever," but the operative word is "can." Families can be together if members of the family have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and receive other essential ordinances in the temple of the Lord.

President Nelson:

And then we each need to keep those covenants, repent daily, and seek to be more like our Savior. Then and only then can families be together forever.

[MUSIC - "FAMILIES CAN BE TOGETHER FOREVER"]

(SINGING) I have a fam'ly here on earth. They are so good to me.

I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Fam'lies can be together forever

Through Heav'nly Father's plan.

I always want to be with my own family,

And the Lord has shown me how I can.

The Lord has shown me how I can.

Sister Nelson:

Our dear brothers and sisters, we have loved being with you today and sharing our love for family history and temple work. It is my testimony that however fabulous your life is right now, or however discouraging and heartbreaking it may be, your involvement in family history and temple work will make it better. What do you need in your life right now? More love? More joy? More self-mastery? More peace? More meaningful moments? More of a feeling that you're making a difference? More fun? Could you use more answers to your soul-searching questions? More heart-to-heart connections with others? More understanding of what you are reading in the scriptures? More ability to love and to forgive? How about more ability to pray with power? More inspiration and creative ideas for your work and other projects? More time for what really matters?

My dear brothers and sisters, I entreat you to make a sacrifice of time to the Lord by increasing the time you spend doing temple and family history work, and then watch what happens. It is my testimony that when we show the Lord we are serious about helping our ancestors, the heavens will open and we will receive all that we need. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

President Nelson:

Amen. Brothers and sisters, you and I can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But until you and I do something to actually experience the joy for ourselves, our attendance here at RootsTech 2017 will have been something like a nice, warm bath. It feels so good at the time, and then it's over.

I would like to extend a challenge to each one of us so that the wonderful feeling can continue and even increase. I invite you prayerfully to consider what kind of sacrifice, and preferably a sacrifice of time, you can make to do more family history and temple work this year.

Brothers and sisters, together we are engaged in the work of Almighty God. He lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church. We are His covenant children. He can count on us. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.