06 June 2004

Copyright 2004 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail

The Spirit Of Elijah

This week I was at a company party after work. As everyone was standing around talking I overheard two people talking about genealogy so I went over and joined in the conversation. The one lady and her husband are avid genealogists and just got back from a trip to the east where they spent their vacation looking up ancestors and visiting places where they had lived. They even met cousins that they did not know they had. Then the husband made this remarkable statement. He said, "We were driving along AND WE HAD THE IMPRESSION TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD. We had no reason to go down the road and did not know where it went. But we followed the impression and we came upon a cemetery. There in that cemetery we found the very grave of the great grand father that we were looking for."

That statement brought back so many memories of my past and being a professional genealogist. I so many times talked with people who were not members of the church, but who had these "IMPRESSIONS" while doing genealogy, and following those impressions found records of their ancestors. On many occasions I would ask them if they had these impressions in other parts of their lives and they would say, "no, just when we do genealogy". I asked that same question of these people who are not members of the church, at the party this week, and they did not know what I was talking about when I asked them if they had that kind of inspiration in their normal life. They said again, "No just while doing genealogy". So I decided to press the issue. I made the statement that I felt that our ancestors were allowed to come back and help us find them, even if we could not see them. Both of them agreed with me and said that ! many t imes they had felt the person they were searching for there helping them.

That is so amazing to me every time I encounter it. As members of the church I wonder if sometimes we just take for granted the prompting of the Holy Ghost in our lives not realizing that it is a special gift that people who are not members of the church do not have. They have the light of Christ, a conscience that leads them to know right from wrong, but they do not have the gift of the Holy Ghost that talks to them as a voice in their mind, who impresses them to do or not to do. It is a gift that teaches us and comforts us and leads us. People who are not members of the church do not have that. Yet I have met so many who, while doing genealogy do have a very similar gift. That gift is "THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH". This encounter with the friends at the company party this week was not a new experience for me. I have met many people who were not members of the LDS Church, who acknowledged that angels were helping them! do th is work. There is a woman here in Everett who is not a member of the LDS Church, who is an avid genealogist. She has 20 or 30 filing cabinets full of genealogy that she has collected. When you go into her house it is like going into the temple. The feeling that is there in Bill and Sandy's home and especially in that room with those records are, is unbelievable. She openly talks of ancestors who have visited her and helped her many times to find their records. Melvin J. Ballard promised us that if we would do all that we could do to find them, then, if necessary, they would be allowed to come and help us.

I know that our ancestors are allowed to come and help us. I have had literally 100's of experiences as a professional genealogist where they have come and helped. May I share just one short story with you of an experience that Janice and I had years ago.

Janice and I have always tried to go on a date every Friday night. When we lived in Salt Lake we tried once a month to make that date a trip to the Genealogy Library to work on her ancestors.

We went there many times and had many wonderful experiences, but there is one night that I will never forget. Because I was a professional genealogist I knew how to do the work. So she would sit at the reader and in a sense be a "READER" for me and I would tell her where to look and what to look for. I would bring her the films and get her all set up so all she had to do was just read.

This one night we were looking for Henry H. Haynes, her great grand father. He lived in Putnam County Missouri. I had her reading the 1880 census records where he should have been about 5 years old. She started reading and I went on about my business finding other things to do. It was late evening but the library was quite busy with lots of people there. Because I worked there every day I was used to all the people and the quiet buzzing noise of them turning the microfilm readers and quietly talking to each other.

After a while, I came by Janice's reader and noticed she was crying. I learned a long time ago that when someone is sitting at a reader and is crying if you will sit down and listen you will likely hear a wonderful experience. So I sat down beside her and asked if she could tell me what had happened.

She said that she was doing what I told her to do, looking for Henry H. Haynes in these census records but could not see him. As she read along turning the reader page after page of census records, she said that she heard a voice in her mind that said, "YOU MISSED ME". So she backed the microfilm up a few pages and read all the names again. Again she heard a voice in her mind that said, "YOU MISSED ME". So she backed it up again and then the third time she looked over at the page I had prepared for her telling her what to look for and noticed that his middle initial was H. So this time she read more carefully and noticed a family by the name of Haynes who had a son H. H. Haynes age 5. That is when I came along.

It was about 10 P.M. by then and there is a little guy who goes around the library at closing time saying, "the library is closing, the library is closing". They do that so you have time to put all of your films back and get out of the building before they lock the doors. So Janice reached up and turned off her reader. When she did that, then all the other people there in that library just disappeared. The whole room was full of people doing research most of the evening. They were just normal looking people, but when Janice turned off her reader then we realized we were the only ones in the library on that floor, except for the man telling us the library was closing. It was then that we realized that many many of her ancestors had been there with us that night doing research. We saw them but did not realize who they were until she turned off her reader and they were then all gone.

Help from the other side of the veil is very real to us. We have had many experiences like this over the years. But the interesting thing is that we only have those experiences when we are actively doing genealogy. When we are not doing it, we have no such experiences. So I guess in a sense we are not unlike the people who are not members of the Church. The spirit of Elijah is only with us, helping us when we are "DOING THE WORK".

Here is some feedback from last week that I thought we should all read:

To: Cordell Vail
Date: Tue, 01 Jun 2004
Subject: Re: Sunday Sermons Part III - Who to seal who to and when 30 May 2004
From: Sue

This reminded me of one of my wise Bishops counsel: The Lord won't force you to be with someone for eternity you don't like.

Somehow I think those who make it to the Celestial Kingdom (and the other kingdoms for that matter) will be satisfied with what and where they end up with. Isn't that an integral part of the Plan of Happiness? It is all about choices!

Helaman 14:31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.

D&C 88:32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

Enjoy your vacation! Mine starts Friday afternoon!


To: Cordell Vail
From: Rea
Subject: Re: Sunday Sermons Part III - Who to seal who to and when 30 May 2004

I asked, because Matt had a case like that in his family. She had been sealed in her lifetime to her 2nd husband after her first died. The family subsequently had her sealed to the first also, and then Salt Lake notified them that since she had chosen in her lifetime to be sealed to the second, they cancelled the later sealing to the second. But, I am thinking it was President Benson, relaxed the rules again, and said they could be sealed to all, even though they chose in their lifetime to be sealed to one, so that they could chose after. So then, Matt's parents went to Salt Lake and met with someone in the Family History Department, and he said, yes, the POLICY now was that they could have that sealing done again, and so they did. I can see where that would cause confusion, though, since I'm sure to many people, the doctrine of only one husband but many wives doesn't sit well!


NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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