Me and Anne Iverina Pedersdatter

Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord–not just to communicate quickly with your friends.  The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.

Elder David A. Bednar, October 2011, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn”

About three versions of familysearch ago, my dad sent me some pedigree charts so that I could enter the data because I’m less prone to computer-related frustration than he is.  While checking for duplicates, I made it a habit to go three pages into the search before creating a new record. Except when I got to Anne Iverina Pedersdatter.  I felt a prompting to go to the fourth page.  And I felt a warm feeling inside when I looked at one of the names on that page.  I just knew it was her.

Triple checking that the already-entered information  matched what I had, I noticed something about the dates. Specifically her marriage date and the birthdate of her only child.  Anne married Erik Hanssen on 03 May 1807 and little Hans Peter Andreas Eriksen was born 12 July 1807.  Even with today’s medical advances, a child born after only three months gestation isn’t likely to live for nearly sixty years.  It was more likely that she was already pregnant when she got married.

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As I put this information together, I received a strong impression that she was desperate for her work to be done. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, I understood that her spirit had come to accept the Gospel.  All that she was waiting for was some body to receive the necessary ordinances on her behalf.  I reserved them without hesitation.

At our next ward temple trip for baptisms, there was some miscommunication, and someone else was baptized for Anne Iverina instead of me.  But it didn’t bother me.  It felt better to watch.  Later, I realized that the other sister was an endowed member and that our ward had an endowment session scheduled a few weeks later.  Anne Iverina wanted all of her work done, and I hadn’t received my own endowment yet, so I asked the “accidental” proxy if she would do the rest of the ordinances as well.  (Sidenote: it was fascinating to see the site update as the work was recorded by the temple office between the initiatory and the endowment.)

Anne’s work was done!  Even though I have no memories of anyone who would have memories of my fifth great grandmother, I feel a connection to her.  I know that she is grateful to me for the role that I played in helping her obtain her exaltation.  I have no pictures of her, or even of her headstone, but still I know that I will know her when I see her because she will recognize me.

Anne Iverina is as real to me as my one of my best friends, Savannahjan.  That’s not her real name, but it’s the name I know her by. That’s her contact name in my phone.  Even when I see her name on facebook, it’s still “sav” to me.  We first met on a (now defunct) website that specialized in social networking before “social networking” was a term.  I came to know and love her as a person, despite not physically meeting her until we had been communicating for six years.  When we first met, we were just names and A/S/L (age/sex/location for those unfamiliar with chatspeak).

Which, if you think about it, is all the more connection we have to most of the people whose names are on the ordinance cards at the temple.  The Church has recently championed the cause of young people doing more temple and family history work.  Not just the statistical information, but the humanizing information, too.  The stories, the personalities, the memories.  Recognizing that the names on the card at the temple or on the screen at home (or at BWW) are more than just names: they’re symbolic of actual people.  Real people who lived real lives.  People who had hopes, dreams, struggles, and triumphs.  People working to find their way back to our home in heaven.

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Millennials understand that symbolism almost instinctively.  Don’t believe me?  Go through your Facebook friends list.  You take it for granted that each account, each name, is symbolic of a real, live person.  A person you probably know, if not love.  A person you can help to come closer to Christ.  A person who is a child of God.

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