Every week I teach two Family History classes–one on Sundays in the ward and one for my friends and their friends every Tuesday morning. The response to these classes has been overwhelming. I have enjoyed every minute of my preparation and being with men and women who thirst to know about the things I’ve studied and learned these last many years since immersing myself in family history work. I’ve told several of them that for me teaching this class feels like relieving the pressure of pent up joy that’s been in my heart and mind for many years–I finally have an outlet for it.
Today we learned about finding the histories and stories of family members. I told them something magical happens when a name has a story added to it. A name becomes a person. That person becomes a friend. We discover things we have in common, or not. We learn how they served and sacrificed. We learn how they did hard things. We have the advantage of seeing their lives from a perspective even they did not have–we can see beginnings to endings and learn how choices determined consequences and outcomes. We can see, from our perspective, how they worked out their salvation.
Joseph Fielding Smith (as quoted in Life Everlasting, pp. 83-84) said: “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. We begin to realize more and more fully, as we become acquainted with the principles of the Gospel, as they have been revealed anew in this dispensation, that we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world . . .
. . . And therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; they can comprehend better than ever before, the weakness that are liable to mislead us into dark and forbidden paths. They see the temptations and the evils that beset us in life and the proneness of mortal beings to yield to temptation and to wrong doing; hence their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”
In other words, their hearts are turned toward ours. So now, they, from their perspective, can see how we are working out our salvation. I love knowing that they are aware of me and my family. They see what is before us (not only what we see behind us), and they are in a position to assist, lead, guide, prompt, and nudge.
We each have Heavenly Helpers who’s perspective is grander than our tiny mortal one. We can trust our lives to their influence. In my experience, I am only granted access to or from those I’ve learned to know and love. If I care for them, they care for me. It’s that simple. The more ancestors I care about here (find and learn about), the more help I receive from them There. That is worth any price to me.
In this Thanksgiving week, I am Grateful for my family beyond the veil and I am thankful for my family and friends here. I feel surrounded by love. From the inside and out.