“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse,” Malachi 4:5-6
The spirit of Elijah, as referenced in the book of Malachi, is described by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a “distinctive influence of the Holy Ghost (that) draws people to identify, document, and cherish their ancestors and family members – both past and present” (David A. Bednar, The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn).
For Marisa Dye, a young women leader in Orem, Utah, she witnessed that influence in the lives of her youth during what she calls the best lesson she has ever given.
“I left with a testimony that the spirit of Elijah is not an ethereal concept,” she said. “It is a force that takes people by storm. And man was it stormin’ in my ward today!” Watch a short video clip of Marisa Dye and her young women’s experience with the Spirit of Elijah.
An Inspired Lesson
The youth curriculum in July was centered on the temple. To prepare for teaching on the subject, Sister Dye spent time on her knees in prayer.
“I felt like my girls needed to be taught specifically on getting to the temple,” she said.
After receiving that answer, she went to LDS.org to read over the curriculum and she came upon the youth temple challenge.
“I thought, ‘I’m talking about the temple to the youth. I should see what this is.’”
Sister Dye watched the short video and heard Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issue a challenge to the youth to “help prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms [they] perform in the temple.”
“I thought, ‘I’m just a grown teenager. I’m going to accept this challenge too.’ I typed in my name and I accepted the challenge,” Sister Dye said.
She continued to explore the content on the page and watched a short video on how to find a family name on FamilySearch.org. Within an hour on the web site, she found her fifth great grandmother.
“I was so pumped I called my mom and I called my dad. I called my grandma,” she said excitedly. “And, I said, ‘grandma, you’ve got to come to the temple with me and we’ve got to do this name.’”
For the first time in several months, Sister Dye felt a pressing need to go to the temple.
“I had had a baby not too long ago and my temple attendance had gotten kind of down,” Sister Dye said. “But the second I had that name printed out I thought, I’ve got to go do this.”
After feeling the spirit of Elijah so strongly in her heart, Sister Dye knew that she wanted her young women to feel it too. She hoped that it would help drive a desire within their hearts to go to the temple.
“There’s no peace that can be found anywhere else like it can be found in the temple.” Sister Dye said. “It’s something that I can’t give to these girls. I can’t teach them, I can’t impart that to them. They have to go and they have to experience it.”
Accepting an Apostle’s Challenge
On the Sunday of the lesson, Sister Dye borrowed as many laptops as she could from ward members and brought them to class. She had the executive secretary print off the membership numbers for the young women so that she could help them all set up FamilySearch accounts. She also made a handout of the instructions to find a name as detailed in the short how to video featured in step 2 of the challenge.
When class began, she showed a short Mormon Message about the temple, introduced the temple challenge, and then let the girls get to work.
“The youth are so savvy. They picked it up and they were finding names before I ever even made it over to help them,” Sister Dye said. “What surprised me the most was how many girls found names within that 30 minutes.”
Sister Dye said a girl who had never come to church before happened to be there that Sunday and Sister Dye watched her at a computer, eyes lighting up as she found name after name.
As the end of church approached, they didn’t want to stop.
“I had a couple girls that said, ‘Please don’t make us go. Let us keep finding names.’”
Sister Dye stayed an hour after church to oblige their request.
And, then, the moment she said she’ll never forget. The girls begging to go to the temple the very next day to perform the ordinances for the family members they had just found.
“I said to those girls, ‘Do you guys have your temple recommends?’ Neither of them had ever been before and I said, ‘Well, I just saw the bishop walk by, I think you better go talk to him.’ I will never forget those girls sprinting, all reverence thrown out the window.”
“They sprinted to the bishop’s office and in that moment I thought, you know, I bet the spirit of Elijah is nipping at their heels. They got their recommends and the next morning before 6:00am, we were at the temple and I knew this was all inspiration. The spirit knew what those girls needed to get to the temple. It was accepting the youth temple challenge.”
When Elder Andersen issued the temple challenge he said, “As you seek to contribute to this sacred work, both by finding those needing ordinances and then beginning their work in the temple, your own knowledge and faith in the Savior will increase and you will receive a more certain witness that life continues beyond the veil.”
Sister Dye can already testify of seeing some of those promises come true in the lives of her young women.
The fast Sunday after attending the temple to perform ordinances for their own family members, nearly all of the girls went up to bear testimony about the temple and family history work.
The less active girl who accepted the challenge during Sister Dye’s lesson texted her a couple of hours later and wrote, “By the way, I’m not sure how to do Personal Progress. Can I come to your house? Can you teach me how to do Personal Progress?”
For Sister Dye, it is all a manifestation of the spirit of Elijah, which she said became real to her as she watched these events unfold.
“It’s a domino effect,” said Sister Dye. “It’s not even just the temple work, just the family history; it goes into they start to come to church, they build relationships, they learn messages that’s going to protect them.”
Apostles have said that there is no greater protection against the influence of the adversary than participating in temple and family history work.
Sister Dye trusts in that promise and has hope for her girls.
“To now know that there are several girls that will be sitting in the temple with their own family names and putting on that armor of God and getting that protection in their lives, it’s absolutely inspiring,” Sister Dye said.