'Time of great awakening in family research'

President Thomas S. Monson told Family History missionaries they are serving in a time of a great awakening, a time when prophecies are being fulfilled.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed missionaries serving in the Family History Mission at a banquet Jan. 17 in the Church Office Building. Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve and chairman of the Temple and Family History executive council also addressed the gathering. Other General Authorities present were Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve and adviser to the Family History Department, and Elder J. Richard Clarke of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Family History Department.The Family History Mission has 105 single or widowed sisters and 120 couples serving as missionaries. Pres. Preston B. Brimhall presides over the mission, serving with his wife, Elizabeth.

In recounting examples of individuals who are not members of the Church who have become interested in family history research, President Monson related stories of corporate executives who schedule visits to the Family History Library during business trips to Salt Lake City. "A great awakening is taking place," declared President Monson. "It's like a wonderful contagion. This prophecy of the drawing of the hearts to the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers is being fulfilled before our very eyes."

He spoke of the crowning roles that temples play in the process of redeeming the dead, and of the desire of members everywhere to not only attend temples but also to contribute to their construction. He related the experience of a young boy in Canada who had such a desire. He recalled that while he and Sister Monson were attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Toronto temple, he heard an account from the bishop of the Cornwall Ward, located near the St. Lawrence River.

"When it was announced that a temple would be built in Toronto for all of the saints of the northeastern part of the United States and the eastern part of Canada, Jacob Fortin, about 10 years of age, began to donate a few pennies, or nickels or dimes, and he would pencil in `temple' as the designated fund," President Monson said. "His grandmother gave Jacob a twenty dollar bill for his birthday. Jacob had been planning all year what he might do with his birthday money. But without telling his mother or his father or anyone else, he just slipped that $20 in the donation envelope and marked it for the temple fund.

"His father was a member of the bishopric, and was going through the contributions that day to make an accounting of them. There he saw the contribution of his own son. Tears came to his eyes as he realized that here was a 10-year-old boy who had caught the majesty of the Spirit, the spirit of temple work. The boy gave it all - everything he had, like the widow's mite."

President Monson reminded the Family History missionaries that inspiration for the work they do comes from various sources. He told of Mabel Barnum, whom he described as "devoted a genealogical worker as I have ever seen," who had accumulated a lot of data in the St. Lawrence River area. However, she came to the point where she couldn't find any more names. She continued searching.

One day, as she walked by a bookstore, she felt compelled to go inside where she found volumes one and two of the book, Pioneer Life on the Bay of Quinte. At first, she thought the books were novels, but she discovered they were genealogical records of all the people who had lived in the Bay of Quinte from the time records could be maintained. She searched through the books and found information that opened her lines to research again. The books were too expensive for her to purchase, but the elders quorum bought them and sent them to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

"I received a letter indicating that these same books had been the means of opening up the lines of connecting heritages for thousands of names and many dozens of people, including President Henry D. Moyle," President Monson said. "All that information became available to the Church," he added, "because one woman refused to just give up, refused to be discouraged, refused to say that there was nothing she could do as an individual."

President Monson quoted President Joseph F. Smith, who said: "This gospel revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith is already being preached to the spirits in prison, to those who have passed away from this stage of action into the spirit world without the knowledge of the gospel. Joseph Smith is preaching that gospel to them. So is Hyrum Smith. So is Brigham Young, and so are all the faithful apostles who lived in this dispensation under the administration of the Prophet Joseph.

"Through our efforts in their behalf, their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them and they shall hear in the spirit world of the work that has been done for them by their children here, and will rejoice with you in the performance of these duties."

President Monson commented: "When we think of the effectiveness of the priesthood leadership of this Church who are now in the spirit world preaching the gospel, we realize all of us must do our work with greater zeal so the temple work that must be done in mortality by us and other members is done so that no one's eternal progression is halted. This is what I believe spurs us on in this day of great awakening."

On speaking of the worth of souls, President Monson recalled having attended a leadership conference years ago during which an elders quorum president was asked, "What is the worth of a human soul?" The elders quorum president answered: "The worth of a human soul is its capacity to become as God."

To the Family History missionaries, President Monson said: "You are working with your hands, with your minds and with your hearts in rescuing human souls. The work you do is marvelous."

Elder Haight, in reflecting on the purpose of family history and temple work, referred to a statement in which Joseph Smith said that the objective of the gospel is real happiness. Missionaries involved in family history research have a major role in helping others achieve that happiness, he said.

"Behind each of you is a wonderful story that could be told as to why you're here," Elder Haight told the missionaries. "When we talk about real and true happiness, you're representative. You enjoy the work. You're not here under any pressure, under any duress. You're here because you love the work."

He noted that some of the high points of the Savior's ministry were obedience and love. "You who are here demonstrate the love you have for this work," Elder Haight said. "The first great commandment is to love God. If we love Him, we do His work. If we love His work, we want to see it succeed. If we want to see it succeed, we become involved."

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