Monday, July 31, 2017

Ella's talk

Ella was asked to speak in sacrament meeting.  She was nervous (but also seemed a little excited although she wouldn't admit that.)   Her topic was opening our hearts to our ancestors and to figures in church history.  She immediately told me that she wanted to talk about the Whitmers and how Peter Whitmer's heart was changed when an angel (or unknown helper sent from God) plowed part of their fields.  This was her first opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting.  She mostly decided what she wanted to say and I typed it...although I helped her find the quote about what Malachi 4 says and I shared several stories about our ancestors and let her choose which one to share.  Bless her heart...I realized just before she stood up that I hadn't written out that she should close in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  I hoped she would know/think to do that.  She was nervous enough that she read her talk...and then sat down.  The brother speaking after her must have whispered to her to close and so she quickly stood up, closed and sat down. She was embarrassed about that.

Here's her talk:
I’ve been asked to talk about opening our hearts to others particularly to our ancestors and people from church history.   In Malachi chapter 4 verses 5 & 6, it says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained these verses in this way:  ““Who are the fathers spoken of by Malachi, and who are the children? The fathers are our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples.
“The turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers is placing or planting in the hearts of the children that feeling and desire which will inspire them to search out the records of the dead.”
In other words, we have the responsibility to do family history and temple work for our ancestors.
My mom and I just took a trip to the church history sites in upstate New York.  One of the places we visited was the Peter Whitmer farm in Fayette, New York.  While we were there, we heard a neat story about how Peter Whitmer’s heart was changed.  Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery needed a place to stay while they finished translating the Book of Mormon. They asked David Whitmer if they could stay at his father’s farm.  At first, David’s father, Peter, said no.  But then he said if David finished plowing the whole farm, he would let Joseph and Oliver into his home.  David worked hard but it wasn’t going as fast as he would like.  He prayed that if this was the Lord’s work that the Lord would provide a way for him to be a part of it.  The next morning when he went outside to begin plowing, a large section had been plowed for him.  After his father saw this, his heart was opened and  he sent David to get Joseph and Oliver.  They were able to finish translating the Book of Mormon in the Whitmer home.  David Whitmer became one of the 3 Witnesses to the Book of Mormon and 4 of the Whitmers were among the 8 Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.  In addition, the Church was organized in their home. 
          This summer I have been able to go to three different temples to do baptisms for the dead.  I can feel the spirit when I am there.  I’ve been able to do baptisms for ancestors that lived 300-400 years ago.  They weren’t able to be baptized for themselves, so I am able to do those ordinances for them.  I feel happy and at peace when I do that work. 
          I also like to hear stories about my ancestors.  One of my great, great, great, great grandmothers was named Mary Fitzgerald.  She was born in Ireland.  She had very dark curly hair and an olive skin. She was short and did not weigh much over 100 pounds. She was very careful about her dress. It was said of her that she always changed all of her clothing and put on clean before going any place.
She worked in the coal mines in Wales.. Later she went into the candy business, making her own candy. Even though she never learned to read or write, she was a keen business woman and kept her accounts straight. She saved money from her business and also some each week from her husband’s wages, because she was determined to come to Zion.  She had to save money for a long time in order to join the Saints in Utah, but she did come.  I admire her faith and sacrifice.  Learning about her and other ancestors helps them seem real and helps turn my heart to them.
Opening your heart to others can really bless your life and the lives of others.  It helps you in many ways.