When I first met Mike and Liz, they had come to Salt Lake City for Liz's radiation treatments. She had cancer of the spine.
They also knew her time was short and wanted to find her ancestors and so they could do their temple work.
"I want you to find out everything you can about them and teach it to us through your research projects," Mike said. "We will do the temple work for them.”
Time marched on. The weeks and months went by. Liz's lines arched back earlier and earlier while researching, and previously unknown ancestors were found. Her sheaves were full of ancestors and relatives names, dates and places. I was sending the projects with the family file cards so that she and her husband performed ordinance work in the temple, as agreed.
I remember a few months later receiving an email from Mike indicating that she was slipping into a comatose state. The last check-up results showed a spread of the cancer moving into her lungs. It seemed as though the days were turning into hours for Mike and us. A few days later, she passed away. Humility and gratitude engulfed me for having the privilege of filling the desires of Liz and Mike's hearts.
Attending her funeral that following weekend, I learned that her life had not been easy. Indeed, there was her share of difficulty and set-backs before she met missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and later, Mike came into her life. She was certainly a woman who bore up against many challenges. Amazement struck me at what changes she made during her lifetime.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ was a definite blessing in her life. Her heart turned to her fathers and mothers and she and Mike had made attempts to research them out of the records. She was providing the blessings of the Atonement to her ancestors through the temple service they were doing for them.
After the funeral at the cemetery, Mike came up to my wife, Leslie and I and put his arms around us said, “Thank you for all the work you have done to this point in finding her ancestors and relatives.”
From time to time, I think of this wonderful couple and the privilege it was for us to research her ancestry. When things become challenging in other aspects of our lives, this is one experience that Leslie and I talk about. We feel peace and comfort, a subtle assurance that we helped Liz find her ancestors.
The writings of John the Apostle describe this good couple in the following verses of Revelation 7:13-17:
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
"And I said unto him, Sir thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
"Therefore, are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth upon the throne shall dwell among them.
"They shall hunger no more; neither shall the sun light upon them, nor any heat.
"For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections, Inc., at ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker; and adviser to Treasured Souls to Keep, at treasuredsoulstokeep.com.