Back in 2010, when I had been baptized almost a year but was not yet endowed, I spent a great deal of time on FamilySearch, working on my ancestry.
I was overjoyed – ecstatic – to one day find my ancestors connect, by marriage and through several great-grandmothers, to a real live member of the church!
I contacted them using the email address in the site, and discovered any little girl’s dream: not only were they members, but they were temple workers!
This was huge for me, coming out of my years of shame, and being baffled by a patriarchal blessing that spoke of righteous ancestors and millions of angels cheering me on to help my family heal, which still seemed so impossible at the time.
I was, by then, writing letters to my father every Sunday, but he was not yet responding, but my mother was writing me back.
So in a bold move, I called her and asked her if she wanted to go on a road trip with me.
We had not had contact for ten years, almost, because I had run away senior year and spent a decade making a mess of things.
She, surprising to me, said yes.
This is from the blog post after:
My mother, however, was up for a spontaneous weekend trip! I found family that were members! Distant, but family! I was doing family history work and connected to another line through my mother’s great-grandfather (the one who settled Eureka Springs), and this lady and I began to email back and forth. She was so sweet, and turned out to be a Temple worker in Mesa. I was so desperate for family, and so excited to have found family that was a member, that I decided to go meet her!
So, my mother drove over Thursday night, and then before dawn on Friday morning, she and I started driving west! Just like that! It was so fun! Such an adventure, and again it was good time for us in the car, with nothing to do but talk and heal and chat and laugh. It is one of my best memories ever of my mother.
We drove all the way to Albuquerque the first night! Of course I made it there in time to go to a baptism session at the Temple there!
We slept a few hours, and then left all our stuff in the hotel and got in the car and drove all that day to Mesa!
It was so fun, because we had many adventures along the way and spent so much time talking things out. This is when I knew I needed to move her in with me, and take care of her, though I also knew I wouldn’t be good at it at first, so it seemed hard and scary, but I want to be faithful. I am so willing to be obedient, even when the obedience part is hard.
And my mother and I got to see the Really Grand Canyon together! That’s what mom said, that it wasn’t just the Grand Canyon. It was really grand! She is so funny.
Then finally, right at rush hour, we made it to the Mesa Temple!
I got to meet this lady, who helped me do baptisms, and while I did that my mother filled the car up with gas and got us food… so by the time I was back out again (and finished taking hundreds of pictures of the gorgeous garden grounds!), we were back on the road to Albuquerque! We made it in the middle of the night, slept a few hours, and then drove all the way back to Tulsa the next day. We did the whole trip in three days, from tulsa to Albuquerque to Mesa and back again. It was CRAZY! But it was amazing! And our hearts turned just like the temple promises, and my mother and I are reconnected and healed, and I promised in the temple I would take good care of her – not just because of repentance or restitution, but because I love her.
And it gave me the courage to keep trying with my dad, even though he is the most angry and hurt. I will keep telling him about the prodigal son because he knows the story and talked to me about it when I was little. It will give us a starting place, if he is willing .
I didn’t know then that my father would not respond until he was dying of cancer.
I didn’t know then that my mother would soon be killed.
I only had faith, and a desire to repent, and a willingness to try the impossible.
And much of my strength came from that trip to Mesa, where a random temple worker barely related to me very distantly took time to be kind to a convert.
And last night at the fundraiser for the baby, she showed up all the way from Arizona just to give me a hug and to hold that baby.
And it made me cry.
Because that’s the kind of real power from temples, to turn hearts like that, to bring healing like that, to connect like that.
I know it is true.