At the Saturday evening session of our stake conference last November, our stake president asked who of those present would commit to personally identifying a deceased relative and then clearing that person for Temple ordinances. This was to be no idle promise. Each person making the commitment was asked to raise his/her hand. The name of each person was recorded.
The stake president admonished us not to jump in and do the Temple work right away for these people. Rather, we were to sit tight and await further instructions that would revolve around our upcoming ward conferences.
We have done much family history work over the years, following in the steps of other faithful relatives. Although we have many holes in our respective lines, all of the easy stuff is gone. Gone are the days when we gathered a number of relatives to take care of 150 baptisms in a single day. We now have to work hard for every single name.
But we sustained our stake president and we went to work completing the task we had promised to do. With guidance from the Spirit and the use of New Family Search, the members of our family that were under covenant were each soon able to clear at least one name for ordinance work.
And then we waited.
As our ward conference approached, we wondered what we were supposed to do with the names we had cleared. Then one Sunday a member of the bishopric asked that we supply these names for our ward conference Temple endowment session, having completed the other needed ordinances. It might have been nice if this had been mentioned earlier so that we could have more time to prepare.
This put us in a difficult spot. If we were going to do baptisms for the dead, we wanted our children that were of appropriate age to act as proxies for our deceased relatives. But finding a time to do that in the few remaining days presented a serious scheduling challenge.
Finally we determined that the only time that could work would be yesterday evening. We made arrangements for one of the grandmas to pick up our two younger kids from school, along with the class pet bird that we had agreed to watch for the weekend. As soon as child #1 and #3 were home from school, we dressed properly and embarked on a 65-minute drive to fetch child #2 from the university.
Since the Salt Lake Temple was closed for its annual two-week winter maintenance, we drove 35 minutes to the Bountiful Temple. Friday evenings are among the busiest times at LDS Temples along the Wasatch Front. So it still took quite a while to accomplish the small handful of ordinances we had cleared.
By the time we finished, everyone was hungry, so we stopped at a local fast food establishment. We were hurrying because child #2 had another commitment at the university. After ordering, we were reminded that the establishment took only cash or check.
With steadily fewer businesses taking checks, we rarely have our checkbook with us. I rarely carry much cash. My wife checked her purse and found a few dollars. The children checked their wallets and we pooled our cash, only to come up 40 cents short. The cashier told us that we were fine. But it was embarrassing.
Still, we had our meal, and then made the drive back to the university to drop off child #2 on time. Then we drove an hour to get home, so that our total trip took just under six hours. Thankfully the roads were in excellent condition and we weren't fighting weather.
I explained to the children that this expenditure of time and other resources to do Temple ordinances for a few people might seem somewhat extreme. But I wanted them to know that we felt deeply that it was very worthwhile. After all, I am certain that God cares for these individuals more than we can possibly comprehend at present. And I felt it was important to follow the counsel of our church leaders in this matter.
I am grateful for the experience we had in the Bountiful Temple last night with most of our nuclear family members. I am grateful for an opportunity to serve. I am grateful for inspired church leaders.
I'm not sure why our stake and ward leaders didn't make it clear from the outset of this assignment that the preparatory ordinances needed to be finished by a certain date. But once this was made clear, having the deadline provided a framework for yesterday's experience. So while I would have preferred better communication, I am not sorry for the outcome.