Miracle of the temple ordinance cards

A first-person account of the miraculous recovery of some lost temple ordinance cards

GLENDORA, CALIF.

The Glendora California Stake was scheduled for a day at the Los Angeles Temple on Thursday, June 26. I sent a stack of around 200 temple family file cards ahead of time with Sharon Gordon, a temple worker from my ward, so that others could help with the work early that morning, and then didn’t end up attending due to emergencies at home.

Renee Starr, of the South Hills Ward, Glendora California Stake, sits in her home surrounded by temple ordinance cards.
Renee Starr, of the South Hills Ward, Glendora California Stake, sits in her home surrounded by temple ordinance cards. Credit: Photo by Janet Colley

A kind brother, also a temple worker from our ward, offered to bring the cards home at the end of the day after some ordinances were completed, although most were not. But, when he arrived home, the temple ordinance cards were nowhere to be found. He called the temple to see if someone had turned them in and even drove back to the temple to find them. They had disappeared!

After searching for the cards, he realized they were left on top of his car and had blown off while he was driving. The following Sunday morning the man told me what had happened and how horrible he felt.

I told him not to worry and began to pray that the names on the lost cards would be identified so their temple work can be accomplished.

“Please help someone to find all my temple ordinance cards, Heavenly Father. I don’t know what to do. These particular ordinance slips did not come from a specific batch. I will not be able to figure out who they are. They could be lost forever!” was my prayer.

The new familysearch.com Web site made it so easy for me to search the thousands of family names that needed their ordinance work done. This stack of ordinance cards was only a tiny portion of names stored in my files that I had gathered over two years time, making them difficult to identify again. I didn’t know how long before the names would be completed and dropped from stored names on my computer.

A stack of temple cards was left on top of a car and scattered across a busy freeway in Southern California.
A stack of temple cards was left on top of a car and scattered across a busy freeway in Southern California. Credit: Courtesy of Renee Evans Starr

All during the following week I worried about these temple cards. Each day I thought, “I should call the Los Angeles Temple today and see if anyone has found them.” I knew that Heavenly Father knew where the cards were, and as I prayed I received a peaceful answer saying “just wait.” Day after day those same words came to me giving me comfort, knowing that this problem was in the Lord’s hands, and it would be all right.

Late Saturday night, July 3, 2009, a week and a half later, I checked my phone messages. I received a call from Brother Marty MacDonald saying he is an ordinance worker in the Los Angeles Temple and as he was on a walk he saw through the corner of his eye some family file slips caught between a fence. He had gathered the cards and said he would mail them back to me.

I listened to my next message and heard Sister Frannie Bailey’s voice saying that she had found some temple cards as well.

I couldn’t believe my ears. This was a miracle!

Because it was too late in the evening, I decided to call them both back on Sunday. I spoke to my friend at Church who had misplaced the cards and told him not to worry because the temple cards had been found.

After Church that day, I called Brother MacDonald to thank him. He was excited to tell me that the story didn’t end with his phone call that day. He had gone back to the freeway two more times and found more cards. (See Church News article, “No Coincidence,” Aug. 22, 2009)

Brother MacDonald told me that when he saw the ordinance cards on the on-ramp of the freeway he thought, “You know, you don’t see family file cards on the freeway every day.” Brother MacDonald walked down the on-ramp to where it meets the freeway and gathered up many of these cards. It is absolutely amazing that they were still there more than a week later.

Excited to hear from my second caller, I called Sister Bailey. She shared with me that she was a new convert to the Church and was just starting to do her own family genealogy. Frannie and her family had just recently moved to the Los Angeles California Stake across the 10 Freeway to the Santa Monica Stake. Wanting to explore their new neighborhood her husband suggested that they go to the park located at Overland and the Santa Monica Freeway. While walking through the park Sister Bailey saw two pieces of trash on the ground all wet and folded.

“I have no idea why I looked down to see those two pieces of trash in the middle of Los Angeles, but I did,” she told me. To her surprise, when the papers were unfolded, she held two temple ordinance cards. She shared her experience with me in a letter dated July 12, 2009:

“Sister Starr, Here are the names we found by Overland and the 10 Freeway. The first 2 were found on July 4. As you can see the work was done June 25 so they must’ve been floating around L.A. for about a week before I happened to see them folded like a pile of trash in the grass. My husband went back to the park July 5th and found William Reid’s card in a different place and on July 6 found Urban Paugn’s. We’ve been back several times since and haven’t found any more but will definitely mail them along if we do. Keep up the good work! God is clearly finding it to be worth His time in personally helping you. I’m so happy to have taken part in this genealogy miracle. Take care! Your sister in the Lord, Frannie Bailey.”

Two weeks after my family file ordinances were lost I received another call. This time it was Diane Pratt from the Las Vegas area. She had been visiting her mother, who is ill, in the Los Angeles Stake. During her visit, she had heard Frannie Bailey bear her testimony in fast and testimony meeting the week before and was jogging over the bridge in the same area that Frannie had described and found an ordinance card on the sidewalk.

It is very interesting that each of the people who found the ordinance cards were members of the Church. This is probably not the end of the story. I would not be surprised if I heard from other people who will find the remaining cards in the future. Approximately 88 cards were found still needing hundreds of ordinances to be done.

The Lord will surely guide His people as they keep themselves worthy and listen to the promptings of the spirit. The freeways in Los Angeles are extremely busy and windy. It is nothing short of a miracle that these cards were found after being scattered by the wind one, two and three weeks after this event.

My testimony is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. The Plan of Salvation is a precious gift that our Heavenly Father has given to each one of His children on both sides of the veil. The work for our kindred dead is important to Him. I have no doubt that He loves us and wants us all to return to live with Him again. Temple work for the living and the dead is the key to eternal happiness that we cannot even imagine. Nothing can stop the work of the Lord. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for answering my prayers.