Edwin's Promise

Edwin’s Promise

Edwin’s Promise is a new video promoting what we have been calling the Edwin Westover Family Project.

When discussing this idea with some cousins several years ago it seemed then – and now, frankly – an impossible task. The work of family history is the gathering of information of our ancestors who have passed on.

But in the case of Edwin Westover, my fourth great-grandfather who lived from 1824-1878, he was given a promise. He was told of a future gathering in which both his ancestors and posterity would attend.

In discussing this with cousins we mused what it would be like to gather the living descendants of Edwin Westover. How many could there be? What are their stories? How have we all added to the legacy of Edwin Westover in 200 years?

As I set out again for Rootstech this year I’m asking these questions anew. I’m hoping that perhaps I might meet even more cousins who might be interested in the Edwin Westover Family Project.

What we’re putting together here is more than just a family reunion. It is a family history event that is unique because we’re trying to learn the extended story of Edwin Westover. We’re a part of it.

We have roughly 18 months to put this together. We want to offer it to those in person and online. All of those details are yet to be worked out but as it comes together we will share through regular updates right here and through as many family channels as we can acquire.

I’m excited for this event. I cannot wait to learn more about my cousins of the 20th and 21st centuries who claim Edwin as an ancestor.

The work of learning how to do family history at Rootstech is one I gladly take up again after three years away due to the pandemic. In years passed I have been able to meet family – almost all exclusively related as well to Edwin – that I did not know previously. Through this website and Rootstech I have met so many wonderful cousins and I cannot wait to meet more.

According to my Rootstech app and FamilySearch.org, I have more than 45,000 relatives attending Rootstech either in person or online.

So, if you’re there, drop me a text or give me a call at 435-294-9783 – I will be there all three days. I would love to meet with you, take a photo and exchange contact information.

With each contact we make we take another step forward in fulfilling Edwin’s Promise.

Join the Westover Family Christmas Card Exchange

Christmas! Yes, I’m going there. I know it’s only August. But I tried to set up a family Christmas card exchange last year and failed spectacularly.

I think I got it up too late and didn’t put enough push behind it. This year I vow to do better.

So, here’s the deal: the Westover Family Christmas Card Exchange is opened to all registered users of the site. But to participate in the exchange you will need to sign up.

I’m not expecting huge numbers. But I am hoping enough of us sign up that we get a good little exchange going. My goal, of course, is to connect as many of us together as possible. I believe good family history comes from sharing and we cannot share if we cannot connect.

If there is one powerful lesson I’ve picked up in the course of this year it has been the importance of connecting with family wherever and whenever we can. One cannot go to every reunion or visit far-flung family very often. But we can all afford to send a merry greeting with a stamp — and maybe share a little bit about ourselves in the process.

Those who know me know I’m something of a Christmas freak. I have managed for the past 27 years a Christmas website known as mymerrychristmas.com. One of our beloved events at that site is an international Christmas card exchange. It is, far and away, the most popular event on the site. Everyday from Thanksgiving to Christmas I receive dozens of cards from my friends made there who just happen to come from all over the world.

The cards add a lot to our home. And it makes me one of the more mysterious people on our mailman’s route.

I don’t have any aspirations to make the card exchange we do here near as big as what happens at mymerrychristmas. But I know the value and the power of this simple tradition and I know it will add great cheer to your home to have greetings arrive from as many family members as we can get to participate.

So sign up. I will collect the list information between now and Thanksgiving, then I will distribute that list to participants on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Bear in mind that you need to be a registered family member to sign up. That means you need to login below to access the sign up page.

If you cannot recall your password to this site, go here.

If you cannot remember your username, click here.

If you are lost and just can’t figure it out, just contact me.

One way or the other, if you’re family and you want to be on this list, we’ll make it happen.

I hope you join us in this fun little event.

A Trip to Minnesota

Alice BegichIt hasn’t even been a week since we received word that Aunt Alice passed away.

Last Sunday Bunni posted on Facebook in a message broadcast to family and loved ones far and wide that at the age of 91 Alice had gone home to be with Pete.

Very quickly my Dad and my brother and I exchanged messages to each other. “We have to go,” Jay said.

We all felt that way.

Alice is the wife of my Uncle Peter Begich, my Grandpa Carl’s big brother.

You know the story of Grandpa Carl and hopefully you know the story of how Pete and his family came to know us.

Alice was such a big part of that story.

Pete and AliceI cannot recall the year exactly, maybe 1978 or 79, but Pete and Alice and Bunni made the trip to California to be sealed together in the temple.

This was the first time all of us except my father had met any of my mother’s family. My Mom was understandably very nervous about the whole thing.

It was Alice who made it all so easy.

She was so sweet, so fun, so accepting – how could anyone NOT love her?

She was funny, warm, talented, and so very gracious to all of us. She had my mother silly in minutes. Alice was, in the shortest terms possible, instant family. She was simply all about love.

The news of Alice’s passing was not unexpected. When Bunni and Jim popped into Aubree’s wedding reception late last year she told me that her mother was not doing well at all.

So we were ready for that news. It was never a question whether or not we would go when the time came. We had to go. My mother would want to be represented – and we would want to remember Alice with all those who loved her as well.

On Monday, I came home from work and messaged Bunni first thing to learn the arrangements. She told me the funeral would be on Thursday.

Whew. I wasn’t sure I could make arrangements for myself that fast. But I messaged Dad and Jay again and within the hour plans were formalized. I packed a bag not knowing if when
I returned to work in the morning they would give me the time off.

We figured that if we left from my house on late Tuesday afternoon we could drive the 1500 miles there in time for the funeral and then get back later on Friday night, so I could squeeze in one more day of work into this week.

What good could come from 70 hours of driving and 3 hours of funeral?

Miracles rarely take that much time.

~ A Long Ago Trip ~

I had been to Minnesota once before in my life.

After Pete and Alice came to California Bunni and I kept up a light correspondence that lasted through my mission. I came home from the mission field on April 26th, 1984. I was home all of three months before I moved to Utah.

I think it was the following summer, in 1985, that Bunni and her parents came through Salt Lake City on a trip. I recall meeting with Bunni briefly during a stay at the KOA on North Temple in Salt Lake.

Their trip came on the heels of a visit to Salt Lake City by my Grandma. Dad called me one day and he told me she wanted to go to the recently opened Family History Library and to visit with her sister, my great aunt Elma. My job was to get Grandma around wherever she wanted to go.

So each day of that week-long visit I drove out to Ralph and Elma’s house in Kearns and drove Grandma and Elma to the library. Most days I had to work while they were at the library but on my days off I spent the day there with them.

Grandma showed me how to use a micro film reader and how to look up possible locations of family records. She very wisely encouraged me to work on my mother’s side of the family and using her direction I was soon very deeply involved in name research.

I called my mother nearly every day that week as I found more and more information that was new. I very quickly became hooked on the idea of mining my mother’s information.

So when Bunni told me she was coming through Salt Lake City and wanted to see me I was anxious to see her – so I could ask about the Begich side of my mother’s family. That side, beyond my Grandpa Carl’s parents, was unknown – and unavailable at that time through the Family History Library.

We had a delightful visit and after a long conversation she thought it was best for me to come visit. I told her of my desire to see Grandma Begich. She told me she would discuss it with her father and that if anyone could make such a visit possible it would be her father – or herself if necessary.

Some months later — I don’t recall the date – I set out on my own from Salt Lake for northern Minnesota. My mother was well aware of the trip. We discussed it. She doubted Grandma Begich would see me but she encouraged me to get as much information as I could, especially pictures.

I look back on it now and it was a little crazy. A 22 year old kid driving by himself across the plains to somewhere he had never been. But it was an adventure to me. I drove 24 hours straight and stopped only for gas, my curiosity growing it seemed by the mile. Wyoming and Nebraska were kind of boring but as I made my way through Iowa and the landscape began to change I started to wonder what was ahead.

By the time I had arrived in Minnesota and specifically in Gilbert I was clearly in a different place – something entirely new and old all at the same time.

But I was welcomed with opened arms, good food and lots of love. That would be my enduring memory of this entire trip – it was filled with love.

Looking back on it now and the record I made at the time of what I learned there are so many things I would do different. Not that I did anything wrong. But age and perspective have a way of making you see things you didn’t see at the time.

The focus really was on getting a chance to visit Grandma Begich. Each day I was there Pete would disappear for a while to discuss it with his mother. And each day he would come home with hopeful words that by the end of the week it could possibly happen. As the days passed I was given the grand tour of the area and I heard many stories of family. Pete and Alice completely immersed me in their world, sharing their music and their love of simple things. I did copy a lot of photos that Pete had and I called my Mom a time or two to share things with her.

As my time there wound down I could see Pete’s anxiety growing over the visit with Grandma. I can recall a conversation around the dinner table where he expressed his frustration and said, “I think you should just show up.” Bunni then said that she wanted a crack a Grandma, that she could convince her to see me.

I was very torn over the whole thing. My mother had long before expressed to me that she felt growing up that she wasn’t wanted, that the family in Minnesota didn’t want to know her. How mother came to feel that way she never explained. But she felt that way and that fueled her doubts about me being able to visit Grandma. I wanted badly to prove mother wrong about all that.

But at the same time, as Pete would explain how Grandma would put her hands up around her ears and start to cry, I couldn’t just not acknowledge her feelings. The thought occurred to me that I was about the age Carl was when he died. What if I never came home to my mother from this trip? Would Mother then understand?

It occurred to me that I was putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. Yes, if I could see Grandma that would be a great thing. If I could hear her story from her own lips that would be even better. If I could get to know her that would be the best.

But if that would put her in the pit of grief for the rest of her days what good would we be accomplishing?

My Begich experience up to that point had been about love – love extended to me. How could I love Grandma enough to honor her request to avoid that pain?

So I told Pete and Bunni it was okay. It was enough for me to be there, to see them, to learn what I could.

Love had brought us together. And love would solve this in time.

~ 33 Years Later ~

We stayed in Bozeman last Tuesday night. We got up early on Wednesday and left at 5:30 am – and drove all day, getting to Duluth, Minnesota before 9pm. We were going to make it for the funeral just fine.

We got to Gilbert the next morning a little early and decided to see what we could of the cemetery. We very quickly saw where Pete was buried and where Alice would be. Then we started to look for others.

Catholic Church of Eveleth, Mn. Why hadn’t I gone to the cemetery when I was there 3 decades before? It never dawned on me then to do so – plus all the people I wanted to see then were still living.

A quick search revealed that Grandpa and Grandma Begich were not in the same cemetery with Pete – they were over in Eveleth. So we jumped in the car and drove a few miles to Eveleth – the boyhood home of my Grandfather.

Again, why hadn’t I visited Eveleth thirty years ago?

We poked around a bit trying to find the cemetery. We found the Catholic church and stopped to get a picture of it. While there a man was kind enough to give us directions to the cemetery.

We drove there, saw the thousands of headstones and did the best we could in the very few minutes we had. But it wasn’t meant to be – we did not find Grandma and Grandpa.

But it was time to go. Time to head back to Gilbert and pay our respects to Alice – and anyone who might be there from the family. We didn’t know what to expect. I knew some of them were getting along in years and I was worried that they, like Alice, were maybe feeling the effects of age and maybe could not attend.

We walked into the tiny funeral home and saw the many people gathering. After a few quick hellos with Jim and Bunni we were at last introduced to Aunt Tillie and Aunt Belle – my grandpa Carl’s sisters. They welcomed us with wide smiles and warm hearts. We dove into conversation so very quickly that it seemed a shame we had to end it for the start of the funeral service.

The tributes to Alice were nice. I so wanted to stand up and shout, “We love her too!”. But at the same time it was nice to enter into her world as kind of a fly on the wall and to hear others say the things about her we already knew.

As things concluded, and Alice’s casket was wheeled out of the room, I heard Aunt Belle – age 94 and strong in every way – say very softly, and respectfully, in a voice full of love – “Bye, Alice”. It broke my heart a little bit because of the sadness in her tone. But I quickly understood it wasn’t because of loss – it was because of love. And I wondered as I thought about these two great ladies – Alice and Belle – and what they must have shared over the years.

Events at the cemetery were very brief, and we returned for a long as we could stay to the VFW hall next door to the funeral home, where a luncheon had been prepared for the family.

In the conversations that ensued and the great things that were expressed we learned some things that we had not known before. These are small things, but they are great things, at least to me. Here are some things we didn’t know:

1. Grandpa Carl was an artist. Aunt Belle told me he could draw anything. She said that if she had to do a homework assignment for school that he could help her. When she needed Sir Francis Drake, Carl drew him. This small detail, of course, is really reminiscent of my mother, who had the same great ability.

2. Aunt Tillie doesn’t believe for a second the story behind Carl’s death. She too recounted his lack of love for the water, something we had heard before. But she also noted with great suspicion that he died days after the war was declared over and that his drowning was a very unlikely scenario – that he would never go near the water.

3. Aunt Tillie said she was in possession of the letters Carl wrote home to their parents. We want to get copies of those letters so we can add them to the collection we already have.

4. Bunni told the story of a memorial service held for Carl after the war. Grandma Begich was presented with a flag from that traditional ceremony. She told them they could keep the flag, that she wanted her son back.

5. Aunt Tillie indicated that she had been in contact with Sandy Minot, Pete’s daughter from his first marriage. Sandy has been pushing her to write Grandma Begich’s story and Tillie said she was deeply involved in that effort. This is perhaps the most exciting news of all.

6. Belle told me her mother came over from Yugoslavia at the age of 17 and that she left because the future she saw for herself there was only as a housekeeper for the Catholic Church. She said that she had to have the sponsorship of a cousin who lived in Oregon to make the trip.

7. It was in Oregon that she met Grandpa Begich, who had gone there for a job in logging. They moved to Minnesota because a cousin had told him about the mining jobs.

By far the most rewarding part of these precious few hours of Alice’s funeral was just being in the presence of these family members, all of whom expressed love and a few who shed a few tears.

In the end, it was again all about love. We felt it in abundance.

~ A Happy Coincidence ~

Aunt Belle is 94 and Aunt Tillie is just five years behind her. Both use walkers and have a little difficulty with their mobility but at the same time I found them both to be remarkably conversant and so very sharp. They both had a lot to say.

Belle told me that she was recently in the paper and I made a point to snag it to see what it said. I’m thrilled to share it here, because I think it showcases so nicely her demeanor and personality.

Like all of our family of this generation she had quite an experience during the war and I’m grateful for this record and the pictures that went along with it:

Rosie the Riveter was the star of a campaign aimed at recruiting female workers for defense industries during World War II — and Katherine “Belle” Begich, now Vukelich, was an enthusiastic participant.

The Eveleth native, now going on 94, became a Rosie the Riveter, joining the thousands of American women who entered the workforce during the war. This was because male enlistment left holes in the industrial labor force. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home.

While women during World War II worked in a variety of positions previously closed to them, the aviation industry saw the greatest increase in female workers — including Vukelich. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just 1 percent in the pre-war years). The munitions industry also heavily recruited women workers — including Vukelich.

Based in small part on a real-life munitions worker, but primarily a fictitious character, the strong, bandanna-clad Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history, and the most iconic image of working women in the World War II era. Though women who entered the workforce during World War II were crucial to the war effort, their pay continued to lag far behind their male counterparts: Female workers rarely earned more than 50 percent of male wages. The Saturday Evening Post in 1943 published a cover image by the artist Norman Rockwell, portraying Rosie with a flag in the background and a copy of Adolf Hitler’s racist tract “Mein Kampf” under her feet.

From the Mesabi Daily News:

VIRGINIA — It was the 1940s and her three brothers were serving in World War II — Carl Begich in Germany, Mike Begich in Africa, Pete Begich in the Philippines. So Katherine “Belle” Begich, now Vukelich, wanted to do her patriotic part.

BelleVukelich, soon to be 94, described it this way in an interview at her home in Virginia’s Washington Manor. “I graduated in 1942 from Eveleth High School. There were no jobs to be had and I wanted a job. I said, ‘I’ve got to do something for the war effort and that’s what I did.'” Women found employment as electricians, welders and riveters in defense plants.

Vukelich grew up in the Eveleth mining location, populated mostly by Slovenians and Croatians, known as Kurjavas, or Chickentown, near the Spruce Mine. “I had a friend from Milwaukee, Tillie Tonko,” she said. “She invited me to come to Milwaukee. She said I could do defense work. There were are a lot of girls down there from the Range. So I took a train to Milwaukee. Tillie said, ‘You can live in my mother’s house. Her name is Mrs. Snidarsich.’ Other girls from the Range were Marion Krall, Josephine Trost, Ann and Rose Lopac. For $7 a week I got a breakfast and a bag lunch and supper, had a little apartment by myself in her huge house. We lived on East Knapp Street. Mrs. Snidarsich took me by street car here and there to apply for a job.”

Vukelich was hired by Nesco, a company that made pots and pans which had been converted to a munitions plant, she said. “I ran a machine called an indenter. We were on an assembly line. I made the firing pin hole in the shell. We made 20-mm anti aircraft shells. First I would make a cup of a little sheet of brass. If I put a shell in the wrong way, the mechanic would have to fix it.” She is proud to say that she was able to hold five long shells at once. She remembers when a woman got her long red hair hair stuck in a drill press — she had forgotten to put on the protector over her hair.

Belle Vukelich, then 19, came down with infected tonsils that had to be removed, and she went home to Eveleth to recuperate. But it didn’t keep her down for long. She had a sister who worked with the Northwest Glider Company in St. Paul. “I got itchy feet and had to get another job,” Vukelich said. “I was hired at Northwest Airlines at Holman Field (Twin Cities) where they had B-24 Liberator bombers.

“First I had to go to school to learn all parts of the plane and the lingo. I was drilling and buffing rivets. I liked being in the bomb bay where bombs were stored when the plane was in flight for war. I became a parts runner, had a moped and went from hangar to hangar. These airplanes came from Texas with just the bare necessities to fly. We had to install plumbing, electric and hydraulic lines before we could let the planes go back to Texas. I was there a couple years. And in 1945 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced that the war was over. We all got laid off except a skeleton crew that was left to clean up.”

After the war she came home to the Iron Range and found employment at Reed’s and Sears department stores. Her fiance, Paul Vukelich of Virginia, came home from the service and the two were married in 1948. They had three children, Steven, Nicholas and Donna. Belle Vukelich later attended the Eveleth Area Vocational-Technical School and became an LPN. She was employed by the East Range Clinic and worked for the late Dr. George Ewens, dermatologist, and also at the ERC pharmacy with pharmacist Dennis Greben and others. She retired in 1981 and “became a homemaker again,” she said with a smile. “And that’s the end of my story.”

Asked about her feelings on helping with the war effort, she said, “I got thanks from people. I’m glad I did it. The girls — that’s what we did during the war. The girls left home and put on these ‘toilet seat’ covers (head coverings) and coveralls. We didn’t make much money. My mother cut up all my uniforms for making rag rugs.”

BelleShe said, “I feel proud that I did it. I have no regrets.” Then she added with a chuckle, “I left a couple nice boyfriends down there.” And sometimes married men would try to make advances — to whom she’d say, “Leave me alone. I’m a single woman, you’re a married man with lovely children and a beautiful wife. Oh, was I mad. They didn’t bother me again.”

She and her husband Paul Vukelich — who died in 2017 one month shy of 96 — were married 69 years. “It would have been 70 in June,” she said. He had played in a tamburitza band, she said.

Vukelich has one surviving sister, Tillie Gulan, who also resides at Washington Manor. Her other sisters were Mary Yurkovich and Rose Biondich.

~ What Happens Now ~

I’ve taken the time to write this because this is family history in the making. It is, in reality, a story that dates back 100 years to a time when our Begich great-grandparents came to the USA.

And we are continuing to write it.

We must build on these tender relationships. We need to remain in contact with Belle and Tillie and to come to know them better. We must learn about their lives and families. They must learn about ours.

We’re part of each other.

Perhaps we can make up with them some of the time we never had with Grandma Begich and Grandpa Carl. We can most certainly share with them the love we have for our collective families.

I see great love there. I see great pride there in heritage. It is exciting to get to know them. I pray what we have started here continues for generations to come.

Grandma Knows

This past week we had the opportunity to do the baptism for Sandy’s grandmother, who left this life six years go.

I knew going into it that it would be a tender moment for Sandy but I was quite surprised that it ended up being the same for me.

It left me to ponder, after it was done, and as we walked out of the temple we had a very interesting conversation that ended with the question: “Does Grandma know?”

Too often the thought of death is one we avoid. The natural man tends to think of death with great finality. We know as members of the Church that there is a deeper meaning but even still we do not spend enough time pondering these bigger questions.

Therein lies another rich blessing of doing family history and temple work.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul advises “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

After we had completed our work for Grandma and a few others in the baptistery that day I watched in wonder as the waiting room for the Logan temple filled with people. Across the glass the work of baptisms continued without stopping. There were two witnesses and a recorder, as well as those lined up to go into the font and those waiting in white for their turn. On our side of the glass sat rows of people line up for their turn to enter the font room, while still others were busy getting white clothes to change into or to check in for their turn for the whole process.

Everything was in order and working efficiently. There was a lot of work being accomplished thanks to the sacrifices of everyone there.

As I watched that I pondered the other side of this process.

What is it like? Do they feel what we feel? Are they accepting what we are doing on their behalf?

It made me contemplate a little deeper what Joseph the Prophet meant when he said, in a letter to the Saints, “And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect — neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”

It is easy to see, as we do their temple work, how “they without us cannot be made perfect”. But what does it mean that “neither can we without our dead be made perfect”?

And just what does it mean to be “made perfect”?

At one time, the Prophet Joseph spoke of the words of the Savior from the book of Matthew when he said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”. The Prophet related that the word “perfect” is better translated as “complete”.

“Be ye therefore complete, even as your Father in Heaven is complete”.

That changes things a bit, doesn’t it? Would it not apply as well if we think of the phrase as “they without us cannot be made complete, neither can we without our dead be made complete”.

Indeed, it makes more sense. The thought condenses the grand scope of it all and makes it easier to comprehend – at least for me.

Brigham Young taught —

“Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not. It no doubt appears a singular idea to you that both Saint and sinner go to the same place and dwell together in the same world. You can see the same variety in this world. You see the Latter-day Saints, who have come into these valleys,—they are by themselves as a community, yet they are in the same world with other communities. When they are in the world of spirits, there is the Prophet and the Patriarch; all righteous men are there, and all wicked men also are there.”

What happens then when either the righteous or the wicked arrive in the afterlife? In other words, where is Grandma?

“The great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits, where they go after death, is to know that they come short of the glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their own accusers” (Joseph Smith)

In other words, they will see those who have a knowledge of the truth and who are free through the Atonement of Jesus Christ in that they are happy – and they will want that for themselves.

Jedidiah M. Grant was a member of the First Presidency, and still quite a young man, when he got very sick. If you recall he was the leading figure of the Mormon Reformation of 1856, a time when members of our own family took to rebaptism in elevating their commitment to the faith. Just days before he passed away, he had this experience of the “other side” as related by another member of the First Presidency from the time, Elder Heber C. Kimball:

“[Brother Grant] said to me, [Brother] Heber, I have been into the spirit world two nights in succession, and, of all the dreads that ever came across me, the worst was to have to again return to my body, though I had to do it. But O, says he, the order and government that were there! When in the spirit world, I saw the order of righteous men and women; beheld them organized in their several grades, and there appeared to be no obstruction to my vision; I could see every man and woman in their grade and order. I looked to see whether there was any disorder there, but there was none; neither could I see any death nor any darkness, disorder or confusion. He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities; and when he looked at them he saw grade after grade, and all were organized and in perfect harmony.”

That order that President Grant described is very similar to the order we see in the temple.

But if Grandma is there and part of this ordered effort to teach the Gospel, does she accept it?

This question was answered by several presidents of the Church, including Lorenzo Snow, who said:

“The great bulk of those who are in the spirit world for whom the work has been done will receive the truth. The conditions for the spirits of the dead receiving the testimony of Jesus in the spirit world are a thousand times more favorable than they are here in this life.”

Why? Because they lived here and live still. Perspective has changed. Circumstances have advanced.

In other words, yes, Grandma knows.

Interestingly, I found this story of the Logan temple that is now more than 70 years old:

“Elder Ballard sat at our baptismal font [in the Logan Utah Temple] one Saturday while nearly a thousand baptisms were performed for the dead. As he sat there, he contemplated on how great the temple ceremonies were, and how we are bringing special blessings to the living and the dead. His thoughts turned to the spirit world, and he wondered if the people there would accept the work we were doing for them.

“Brother Ballard said: ‘All at once a vision opened to me, and I beheld a great congregation of people gathered in the east end of the font room. One by one, as each name was baptized for, one of these people climbed a stairway over the font to the west end of the room. Not one soul was missing, but there was a person for every one of the thousand names done that day.’
“Brother Ballard said that he had never seen such happy people in all his life, and the whole congregation rejoiced at what was [being] done for them” – Nolan Porter Olsen, from the book, Logan Temple: The First 100 Years

It is interesting to note that President Brigham Young said that in the spirit world there exists both “the Prophet and the Patriarch”. By that he means the organization of the Priesthood and the organization of the Family.

The many things I have experienced in working on Family History so intently these past five years have taught me that our family is organized on the other side.

I have long told my wife how much I wish she had known and had met my Grandma Westover, and that they both would have enjoyed each other immensely. When Sandy’s grandmother died six years ago, I mused whether or not these two beloved grandmothers would meet on the other side.

I do not know that they have. But it would not surprise me in the least. That’s how connected our families are within the spirit world.

Sandy’s Mom this week had a dream of her mother. Due to its sacred nature I will only touch on it in passing here other than to say this is the first time since Grandma passed that my mother-in-law has seen her mother since she died.

I don’t consider that a coincidence or a game of the mind. I consider that a sacred reality of the family and a testimony of this great work.

Included in the names we did work for this week were several from my mother’s family. I knew none of them and I possess very little information about their lives.

But I left the temple feeling my Mom was aware this work was now done – and that a greater effort lies in the days ahead to further free her family there still in “spirit prison”.

This is how we are made complete or “made perfect”. This is how our dead help us.

Join us in the month of December in going to the Temple for our family.

We are challenging all members of the family, no matter where they live, to audit the temple work recorded at Family Search for any and all family members. Find a name a take it to the temple.

If you cannot find a name, then contact another family member you know who might hold names in reserve. I have dozens ready to go right now.

We are targeting December 3rd as our Westover Family Temple Day. But really it can happen at any time in December at any temple of your choosing.

Let’s end this year with a rush of names that we complete in the temple. Let’s give our family on the other side something to cheer. Then we can set fresh goals for the year ahead.

A Family Temple Day

We are looking to engage family in the work of family history through organizing a Family Temple Day in December 2016.

The purpose of this day would be to advance the completion of family ordinance work. Wherever you are and whatever temple closest to you that you can attend would be all you would need if we coordinate the family names needing work.

For example, I presently have about 148 family ordinances in my possession that need to be completed. All ordinance work must be done in order. In November, we are going to complete the baptisms, confirmations and initiatory work for those names. This is being done by just a few of us.

Where the work gets bogged down will be with the endowments. 30+ names will take my wife and I months and months to complete endowments. But a concentrated, coast-to-coast family temple day in December could mean we can complete the work for these family members by the end of the year.

We are proposing a day such as this for Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. Please contact me if you can participate and take a family name or two to the temple on that day. Additionally, if you have a stockpile of names that need work done, please share so that we can spread out the work.