The Long Wait and the Joy That Cometh in the Morning
The pictures above represent but a small chapter in a very large and personal story, one that began centuries, even millennia ago in the premortal realm. We were all participants in this story and continue to be such as the days, the weeks, the years, and the centuries of our life come and go. All of the scenes in this great story are recorded somewhere. Some are rather close and personal as we experience them day by day and others require a great deal of time and effort to uncover. These stories are very meaningful and significant, not only to those whose personal story is told, but also to the rest of us, because we are all a part of one great family and our Father is God, who holds the power and the keys necessary to breath life into each member of His family and all living things, something which no mere man, regardless of all their learning and earthly experience has been able to do. In fact, the collective intelligence of the inhabitants of this earth throughout the eons of time have not been able to create the breath of life in a single thing regardless of whether it is as complex as a modern human being or as simple as the smallest amoeba to inhabit the primeval pond. The crowning achievement of all Creation was patterned after our Father, our God, Himself. We as human beings were created in His image and are His sons and His daughters, a part of a great and growing family whose immortality and eternal lives are described as being the very essence of His work and His glory.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ we are privileged to know of this plan, but not just to know, but to be active participants in helping it to come to pass. Many of the things we do in life, the places we go, and the people we meet are significant chapters in this great story. There was a time, in my life when I failed to understand how this great story unfolds. I credited, such things as"destiny" or "luck" or "coincidence" to much of what happens to us and around us personally, as families, or even as nations and national cultures. As I have gotten older and have had the opportunity to experience life and to converse with people and beings much more knowledgeable than I, I have come to understand that coincidence, fate, luck, and destiny as these terms are most commonly understood, play almost no role whatsoever in our lives. I have come to recognize, what I call, "an unseen hand" directing the affairs of men. This "unseen hand" belongs to our Heavenly Father, who loves His children, and wants us to have those experiences in life, which will help us to develop character, strength, and ability. Thus some of our experience may seem to be very difficult or even unfair, but in reality they are carefully planned to allow us, through the use of our agency to develop, albeit sometimes very slowly, the attributes which will help us to become as He is and to do the things He does. We are never forced, but rather allowed to determine what our course of action and our own personal attitudes will be as we approach and experience all of the ups and downs, the vicissitudes of life.
When we left our Heavenly Home to come to this earth, we knew that it wouldn't be easy. In fact we knew that it would not be possible, except that a Savior would be provided for us. We would never have left our premortal home, had we not had absolute faith in our older brother, Jesus, who promised to come to the earth and to work with us patiently and with long suffering in our journey back to the Father's presence. He promised to be our Savior and we believed Him. We had faith in Him.
It would not be an easy experience. Easy experiences do not produce the faith, nor strengthen and character needed to dwell in the eternities with God and to become as He is. All around us are evidences of our Father's love and His desire for us to learn of Him and to become as He is. Sometimes we fail to recognize His hand in all these things and try to go it alone. Always when this happens, the day must come when we come to acknowledge Him and reach out to Him that we might allow His great love to lead us and direct us from hour to hour and day to day.
Now, to the chapter in our family history I alluded to at the beginning of this blog, as most of you know I seem to have caught the family history bug, at least that part of it which pertains to temple work and the sealing powers of the priesthood. Until the past couple of weeks I had thought that Iris' father, Rupert Lee McMichael was the first member of the Church in the McMichael family having been baptized in 1931, but a while back I discovered another person, a man, on the family tree with the name,McMichael, who had been baptized and confirmed into the Church in Georgia, in 1910 or 1911. He had had his temple work done by proxy by some person unknown to me. I was glad for that, but it really didn't have a great and deep significance to me beyond the ordinances that had been performed. I have since continued to research the McMichael family tree with the help of the book, Trailing Our Ancestors, by Sarah Lois McMichael, who is a distant cousin of Iris', who spent the greater part of her adult life researching McMichael family history. Incidentally sje was not a member of the Church. It was a marvelous work and contains the names and important information about approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people who are associated by blood or law to the McMichael family. Aunt Shirley had had this book in her possession and it came into our hands at the time of her passing. I was impressed with the work that had gone into it and the detail which it contained, together with some very interesting stories of the McMichael family. About last November, I seemed to catch a little stronger inclination to do the work for those in that book, who had not had the chance to receive the gospel in this life. They were a good and god-fearing people as indicated by the many stories related in the book. So far we have been able to do some or all of the work in the temple for about 1,500 of these people, but there is still a vast amount of work yet to do. The book we have, traces the McMichael and associated families back several generations, but generally stops with the earliest ancestors who came to America as colonists from England and Ireland. A few references were made to both England and Ireland, but no real connection was shown conclusively. I decided to just get on the New Family Search program and see if I could find members of the McMichael family in the British Isles. I did and there were literally hundreds and hundreds of McMichael relatives and their families. I seemed to feel strongly the Spirit working with me as I tried to make connections with the McMichaels in American and those in the old countries. Finally, one night my research led to Londonderry, Ireland and McMichaels who had been born in that area. Suddenly, I clicked the name of a Robert McMichael, who had been born in Londonderry, Ireland in the early 1800s. The New Family Search program I was working with shows what temple or other ordinances have been completed. For the aforementioned, Robert McMichael, it showed that his baptism and confirmation had been done in 1841 and that his initiatory and endowment work had been done in Salt Lake City in 1854 in the "President's Office". I knew that the Church had not yet been introduced to Ireland in 1841 and so I surmised that that particular McMichael family had gone to England sometime before 1841. In checking out a little Church history I earned that many of the very earliest converts to the Church in England had immigrated to that country from Ireland. Such must have been the case with at least some of the McMichaels, The earliest missionaries from our Church to England went in about 1836. They met with some early success and soon many of the Twelve apostles were called to serve missions in England, including Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilfred Woodruff. They had great success and soon baptized hundreds of people. Among these early British converts were several members of the McMichael clan. So far we have found others of the family who had joined the Church at about the same time as Robert McMicheal and his wife, Elizabeth McMillan. Among these were a man by the name of Thomas McMichael who was baptized and confirmed in early 1841, as were two females by the names of Elizth McMichael and Jane McMichael. The dates of their baptism and confirmation as members of the Church were also listed as 1841, but their initiatory and endowment work was still not done. My supposition was, that they had not been able to travel to the United States and to Utah during their lifetimes and thus had no possibility of receiving their sacred temple ordinances. Iris and I have since had the opportunity to bring this long wait to an end and completed the initiatory and endowment ordinances by proxy for them here in the Logan Temple. I certainly felt a special joy in my heart to know that their time of waiting was over ,and that they now have the opportunity to progress, and to feel that special "joy that cometh in the morning" spoken of in the scriptures. "The morning has broken", not just for them who have waited so long but for each of us and others of God's children, as we make these sacred covenants with the Lord in His Holy House and receive the fullness of the blessings promised to the faithful. One hundred and sixty-nine years had passed before we were able to find and do these sacred ordinances for them by proxy. Truly, they feel the joy just as we have done by this discovery and by the opportunity to help bring the promised blessings of the Lord to some who have waited for so long since they first recognized the true gospel as taught to them by the early missionaries in England. They rejoice and we do as well.
An interesting little sidelight to this story, the Brother Robert McMichael mentioned earlier, somehow found his way to Utah. He received his initiatory and endowment ordinances in the office of Brigham Young in 1854. There was no temple in the Church then and some ordinances were performed there before they Endowment House was built and until the Salt Lake Temple was completed. With a little further research, I learned that Robert McMichael was eventually called to move his family to an area near present-day Coalville, Utah to help in the colonization of this area. He is now buried, together with his wife, Elizabeth, in the Hoytsville Cemetary in Hoytsville Utah. One of his sons, a William McMichael, also settled in the area where hecontructed a beautiful pioneer mansion. Today that home still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places in Summit County, Utah. I know, it would take a lot more research to flesh out this brief, but eventful history, but to me it is at least worth a stop in Hoytsville to see the sites important to the earliest McMichaels to recieve testimonies of the restored gospel. I have come to believe that this family is one of the elect families in all creation and am so glad that I have been allowed to return in a small way some of the blessings that have come into our lives through the McMichael family. I will sing praises to the Lord for eternity for the blessings I have received and pray that each of you will find time to give thanks for your heritage as a part of a very special and blessed people.
The Spirit of Elijah is alive and well. Take advantage and become a part of it. It is necessary and it will bless your lives beyond your wildest dreams. I pray for you all the "Joy That Cometh in the Morning, for those who wait and for those of us who are here to help.