Recalling the first time she heard her baby's heartbeat, Sister Nancy Duncan said, "It was his heart I was hearing, but it was my heart that was exploding. Exploding with a feeling of love and joy like nothing I had ever experienced before."
Sister Duncan and her husband, Elder Kevin R. Duncan, General Authority Seventy, addressed students at BYU-Idaho on Tuesday, May 21 during the university’s weekly devotional.
Sister Duncan explained that the feeling of pure love she had for her baby was an experience President Russell M. Nelson described as, “the Spirit of Elijah – a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family.”
Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Elder Duncan explained, is one of the most fundamental purposes of the earthly experience. He said, “We could rephrase that same idea by saying that love between parents and children and being sealed together forever is at the core of our eternal progression.”
Elder and Sister Duncan then gave an overview of the times where the prophecy was given in the scriptures. Elder Duncan highlighted the importance of this prophecy by saying that Malachi originally gave the prophecy, the Savior repeated the prophecy, and Moroni re-emphasized the prophecy to be fulfilled in our day.
“Elijah did come, and he appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple, declaring that his purpose was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” Elder Duncan said. “The ushering in of the fulness of times was in full swing.”
Applying the scripture story to the BYU-Idaho students, Sister Duncan said, “I think you are beginning to see your crucial role in the responsibility you have in the shared salvation for yourself and your ancestors."
She testified that those who participate in temple work will receive unique and personal blessings. The couple then shared a list compiled by Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of some of the individual blessings available for participants to receive as they engage in the saving work for their ancestors.
These blessings include:
- Assistance to mend troubled, broken or anxious hearts
- The ability to no longer feel alone
- Increased love for others, especially your family members living and dead
- Power to discern
- Greater influence of the Holy Ghost to feel direction in life
- Increased ability to repent and protection from temptation
- Refinement and sanctification of one's heart
- Increased family blessings, no matter one's current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect one's family tree may be
- Deep and abiding conversion to the Savior through increased faith in Him and a better understanding of His atonement
- And, increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord
After sharing these blessings, Sister Duncan related the true story of Frederick William Hurst to help the students empathize with their ancestors in the spirit world.
Fredrick and his brother Charles joined the Church in 1854 and tried to help other family members become converted, but none did in this life. One of Fredrick’s final journal entries states that his older brother Alfred came to him from the spirit world and told Hurst he believed in the Savior and his teachings, but needed Fredrick to do the work for him in the temple.
“Brothers and sisters, what about you?” Elder Duncan asked. “Are your ancestors weeping, mourning and waiting? Or are you helping them to progress?”
After inviting students and faculty to explore the Family Tree app and use the new “Ordinances Ready” feature to find an ancestor’s name to take to the temple, Elder Duncan invited everyone in attendance “to take their family names to the temple and experience the joy of helping to save your ancestors.”
For any who didn't find a name, Sister Duncan invited them to go to the temple anyway. She then quoted President Russell M. Nelson saying, “If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy.”
Returning to the initial feelings she had when she heard her baby’s heartbeat for the first time, Sister Duncan reflected that it would have been agonizing had someone told her that she couldn’t be with her child forever. Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without those we love most, she said.
“When I go to the temple for one of my ancestors, I realize that they love their children and grandchildren as much as I love mine,” Sister Duncan said. “They love their parents and grandparents as much as I love mine. All of this is possible because of the love of our Heavenly Father and the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. The temple is truly the house of love–the House of the Lord.”
Elder Duncan shared that when he was first home from his mission, he utilized his planning skills to set a regular appointment for himself to go to the temple. This turned the blessing of going to the temple more into a burden in his mind. That gradually changed into a feeling of overwhelming joy as he started going to the temple to draw close to Christ.
“I had served a mission and thought I knew the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Duncan said. “But in the temple endowment instruction I finally began to feel the gospel of Jesus Christ and His infinite love for the Father and for me. That love is so binding and strong that as we turn to Him, it is sufficient to bring us back to the Father.”