A few years ago , Blanche Madsen, a single mother for many years, invited her brothers and sister to attend a temple day in honor of their deceased parents, Henry Moroni and Eliza Stirland Zollinger.
"Six of us went the first time in 1990," she said, and a tradition was born. "We felt our parents would be pleased and we enjoyed the spirit." Later she invited extended family members to attend. The extended family was spread across the continent.
About that time, she felt impressed to begin research on her mother's Stirland line. She already had lists of names and began to organize the lists into families and submit them for temple ordinances. She did the research and her son, Brent, entered the material into a computer. Then it came time to do the ordinance work.
"I thought, 'Why am I doing this myself? I have cousins who can help.' "
When the next annual family temple day arrived, she had a collection of Stirland names waiting and invited cousins and other relatives to attend and do ordinance work. Many responded, and the event grew from one year to the next.
At the most recent family temple day, held in March 2000, some 125 family members participated. They came from all over the United States and Canada. Twenty-five children wanted to take part, so they were baptized in behalf of their ancestors. Culmination of the work that day came when many, many Stirland families were sealed. Family members requested and received three sealing rooms. They used each one for two hours.
The family "has developed such strong ties between one another," said Sister Madsen. "Some told me, 'We leave looking forward to the next year.' They have felt a spirit they haven't felt before," she continued. "We can't explain the feeling that is there, and it lingers on." John L. Hart
Another in a series of "Temple Moments"
Illustration by John Clark