One week in Relief Society the lesson was on President Howard W. Hunter’s words regarding temple and family history work. A particular phrase grabbed a hold of me and inspired me to stop procrastinating learning how to do family history work. He said, “I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.” Up until this point in my life I had only really experienced half of the blessing and wanted to feel the power of both halves.
I got to work and after a few months I began to understand the Prophet Elijah’s promise. My heart was turning to my fathers and I felt their love from beyond the veil, encouraging me in my efforts. Soon I had hundreds of names reserved and had enlisted the help of my family in completing the temple work for these individuals.
One day my grandma remembered an old box of pictures given to my grandpa many years ago — some of them well over 100 years olds. I started sifting through the box, connecting each picture to an ancestor on Family Search. In doing so, I found a photo of Leo Bowers, son of Andrew Bowers (the brother of my great- great-grandma, Elizabeth Bowers Porter). He was pictured with a girl labeled as Mary Bass.
Wanting to connect the picture to this girl, I started digging through records to find out who she was. Was she Leo’s wife? A friend? Turns out Andrew Bowers was married three times, instead of the single time found by the genealogist Grandma hired years ago. Andrew’s first wife died in child birth with the couple’s third child. Leo and his sister Mary were born to Andrew and his third wife. Mary later married a man with the last name of Bass.
From a single picture I was able to find Mary and her mother, who had until this time been missing. Grandma later commented that she never knew why the old family scrapbook had been given to Grandpa and not someone else in the family. Now she believes it wasn’t a coincidence. Heavenly Father knew that this box of pictures would be a valuable tool in uniting our family for eternity.
How grateful I am for the chain of events that led me to start doing family history work right now and the spirit of Elijah that has helped me to come to know people who lived well before this time and love them as if they were living with us now.
— Jamie Belnap, Gordon Lane Ward, Stansbury Park Utah South Stake