Temple moments: ‘Why are we here?’

A dusty, 30-year-old audio tape "lit the candle" of Linda Conkey Shaw's interest in doing temple work for her forebears. In 1993, she received a tape recording by her long-deceased grandfather, Charles Austin Jacobs, telling his family history. The tape, recorded by her father, Donald, in 1968 after a family funeral, "captured the right moment at the right time."

It also shed light on some tough family history connections on the grandfather's lines. The tape led Sister Shaw of the Zionsville Ward, Indianapolis Indiana North Stake, to southern Ohio where she happened on a book with extensive genealogy on the Jacobs line. Grandfather Jacobs' tape told where in Ohio the family lived, and described in some detail the family farm, a chapel and a cemetery.

"We took our spring vacation and returned to Ohio," she said. Her husband, Mark, now a bishop, was very gracious about the trip, but their five children, ages 4 to 13, had other thoughts. As the family car rose and descended over the rolling hills of Ohio, some became carsick.

"Why on earth are we here?" they asked.

When the family arrived at the obscure, and very lightly populated, community of Bidwell in Galia County, Ohio, the children were in for another disappointment. There was no recreation for miles around. But they caught the spirit a little as they visited the cemetery, found names for which they were looking, and took pictures. Then, after riding four more hours for a horseback ride, they started the long, rolling ride back home.

"They hated it," recalled Sister Shaw.

When it came time to do the temple work, the Shaw family traveled to Colorado where their cousins lived. At the Denver temple, they did baptisms for their kindred dead, including the Jacobs' ancestors from an obscure farm in Ohio.

"It was a very powerful moment for my children and my nieces and nephews," said Sister Shaw. "We had a strong confirmation that members of our family were very ready for their temple work. It all clicked and it helped the children understand what the Church is all about, and why Mom was dragging them from one place to the next." — John L. Hart

Illustration by John Clark.