by Kathryn Grant
In his April 2017 conference talk “Gathering the Family of God,” President Henry B. Eyring observed, “The youth of the Church have responded to the spirit of Elijah in an inspiring way. Many now hold their own limited-use temple recommend and use it often. Temple baptistries are busier than ever; some temples have even had to adjust their schedules to accommodate the increase in the number of young people attending the temple. It used to be a rare but welcome exception for youth to bring the names of their own ancestors to the temple. Now this is the norm. . . .
“In addition, many youth have discovered that giving of their time to do family history research and temple work has deepened their testimony of the plan of salvation. It has increased the influence of the Spirit in their lives and decreased the influence of the adversary. It has helped them feel closer to their families and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us (see D&C 128:18).”
Amber Sessions is one of the youth described by President Eyring. Inspired by her mother’s example, Amber attended the temple regularly after she turned 12. She also enjoyed working with her mom to discover more about her family and prepare their names for temple work.
As Amber grew older, she felt a strong desire to serve a full-time mission, but she wanted to be sure it was the Lord’s will for her. While at the temple one day for baptisms, she prayed specifically to know if a mission was right for her. She then opened the scriptures without any particular passage in mind, and her eyes fell on Doctrine and Covenants 42:6–7:
And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.
And ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Amber knew immediately that this was her answer from the Lord. She is now happily serving in Ecuador.
But the story doesn’t end there. Amber’s younger brother TJ was only 10, but he had been inspired by watching Amber and his other siblings go to the temple. Even though TJ couldn’t yet go there himself, he asked his mom to teach him how to find family names for his siblings to take to the temple.
His mom showed him a family she’d found in the census and then explained how TJ could find birth information for each member of the family. It wasn’t long before TJ had found the information, and then his mom guided him as he added the missing family members to Family Tree. As TJ helped gather his family, he felt connected to them.
Finally, TJ printed the temple cards. Seeing his own name on the cards was thrilling for him. He was even more thrilled when his mom talked with him about how he was helping to release their family members from spirit prison. She told him that just as Amber was teaching the gospel in Ecuador to give people the opportunity of baptism, he was doing the same thing for people on the other side of the veil. “Really!” TJ exclaimed, with wide eyes and a huge smile.
Not surprisingly, when TJ’s younger sister Grace saw what he was doing, she said, “Wow, can I do that?” Even as a 10-year-old, TJ set a wonderful example for his younger sister that made her want the same blessings.
Amber, TJ, and their siblings are typical of many youth who find spiritual strength and answers to their prayers through temple and family history work. They are growing in their ability to influence others, including their own family members. They reap the blessings promised to those who help to gather the family of God.