Turning my Heart to my Ancestors and to the Lord

December 6, 2006

 

Last August, I was reading an article in the Ensign magazine written by a Sister’s experience in doing family history work as a busy young mother.  I recall reading about this sister’s account of feeling overwhelmed with her life and yet she felt prompted that she needed to work on her family history and temple work.  The article goes on to discuss the souls she blessed and how her own life was blessed through family history and temple work. 

 

I don’t remember the details of what I skimmed through in that article as I sat at breakfast that morning, but I do remember feeling a strong impression that I too, despite the demands on my schedule as a young father and a PhD student in a demanding program, need to seek out my ancestors.  As Sister Sorenson said in the article, this may not “be expected of everyone in my circumstances, [though] I felt sure the Lord wanted me to become involved in it.”

 

So I set out contacting my parents and grandparents. I had a distinct feeling I needed to look at my mother’s side of the family.  I started looking at Census records available through my school library’s web site. Gradually, the pieces started coming together quite miraculously to bring an entire family to my attention whose information was not available in the 1970’s when my newly-converted mother worked so diligently on identifying her ancestors. 

 

I found in the census records entries for my great-great grandparents, August Borgwardt and Margarete Williges and their children.  As I saw their records, I felt a connection to these people as if they were reaching out to me, encouraging me to get to know them. I felt a sense of their making up an intrinsic part of who I am, and I felt gratitude for the sacrifices they made to lay the foundation for me to be born in the circumstances I’ve been blessed with.

 

The census information was vital, though incomplete.  I found through a database of the San Francisco Call newspaper archives an index pointer to a marriage between August and Margerete that provided me with the year they were married. 

 

With approximated birth years from the census and this marriage year from the San Fransisco Call, I had sufficient information to begin preparing their records for the temple. But I was troubled that my incomplete information might make it more difficult to find information on their parents as well as for those coming after me attempting to build on my work.

 

About one week before our ward (local congregation) was to take a trip to the temple in Louisville, KY, I received an email, almost out of the blue, from my grandfather, indicating he had written some one page biographies about each member of this family some years ago and he thought I might enjoy them. In the attached files, were exact dates and places for vital events for members of this family. 

 

One by one, my parents, my brother Wil, my sweet wife Molly, and I have participated in and coordinated ordinance work for these members of my family. Each of us has felt strong spiritual impressions of the love and gratitude they feel toward us and that we feel toward them. As I have sensed their anticipation, I have gained a greater appreciation for the value of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the cleansing and renewal that comes from participating in sacred ordinances and covenants made with God.

 

And the story continues, the Spirit continues to impress on me the need to keep going. My great-grandmother Williges has a sister Louise, with whom she came to America and who, I also feel, is waiting anxiously for her temple ordinances to be completed so that she to may enjoy the blessings of membership in the kingdom. I found the ship records of her immigration to the United States. My mother dug up an old audio recording of an interview she made with Louise’s daughter, whom my mother remembers as Tana Louise.  The tape is filled with rich genealogical information as well as illustrations from my ancestors lives. 

 

This is one more reason why I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My love for the Savior, Jesus Christ, prompts me to reach out to my extended family members, both living and dead, so that they to may feel this love. Service in the temple helps be draw near to God while sacrificing my time to perform a work for others they cannot do for themselves.  And I have come to understand more fully the words of the Savior to the prophet Joseph Smith in 1829:

 

10 Remember the aworth of bsouls is great in the sight of God;

  11 For, behold, the Lord your aRedeemer suffered bdeath in the flesh; wherefore he csuffered the dpain of all men, that all men might repent and ecome unto him.

  12 And he hath arisen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of brepentance.

  13 And how great is his ajoy in the bsoul that crepenteth!

  14 Wherefore, you are called to acry repentance unto this people.

  15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one asoul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

  16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the akingdom of my Father, how great will be your bjoy if you should bring many csouls unto me!

 

Pasted from <http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/18/15>

 

 

Note: the complete text of the Ensign article that prompted this journey can be found at the link below.

Kim Crenshaw Sorensen, “Blessings for My Ancestors, Blessings for Me,” Ensign, Aug. 2006, 34–35

 

Pasted from <http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/2006.htm/ensign%20august%202006.htm/blessings%20for%20my%20ancestors%20%20blessings%20for%20me.htm?f=templates$fn=document-frame.htm$3.0$q=$x=$nc=6677>

 

 

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