Although it happened back in Feburary, until yesterday I hadn’t seen President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson’s wonderful joint address to the RootsTech conference. President Nelson shared a remarkable story from his family history. This weekend Elder Kopischke of the Seventy came to our Stake Conference and he quoted the story at length while speaking of the importance of Family History and Temple Work. I offer the story with the caveat, of course, that it is not canonized revelation and does not supplant D&C 138 in any way.
I wanted to tell the family about my Grandfather Nelson and the precious gift he gave to us. His name is Andrew Clarence Nelson. They called him A. C. He died when my father was 17 years old, so I never knew my Grandfather Nelson. He’s the only one of my four grandparents I did not know. When my Grandfather A. C. Nelson was a young husband and father, just 27 years old, his father died. Then, about three months later, his father, now deceased, came to visit him. The date of that visit was the night of April 6, 1891. Grandfather Nelson was so impressed by his father’s visit that he wrote the experience in his own journal for his family and his friends. …
Listen to my grandfather’s words about that sacred experience:
“I was in bed when Father entered the room. He came and sat on the side of the bed. He said, ‘Well, my son, as I had a few spare minutes I received permission to come and see you for a few minutes. I am feeling well, my son, and have had very much to do since I died.’
“‘What have you been doing since you died, Father?’
“‘I’ve been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died. That is, since three days after I died. I received my commission to preach the gospel. You cannot imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the spirit world that have not yet received the gospel. But many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends who are still living to administer for them in the temples. I’ve been very busy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.’
“‘Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we’re doing?’
“‘Oh, no, my son. I have something else to do. I cannot go when and where I please. There is just as much and much more order here in the spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work to do, and it must be performed.’
“‘We intend to go to the temple and get sealed to you, Father, as soon as we can.’
“‘That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout eternity.’
“‘Father, is it natural to die?’
“‘It is just as natural to die as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door.’ And here he pointed at the door. ‘When I told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the spirit world. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong. But it makes no particular difference. Correct records are kept here.'” …
“‘Father, is the gospel as taught by this Church true?’
“‘My son, do you see that picture?’ Pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall.
“‘Yes, I see it.’
“‘Just as sure as you see that picture, just as sure is the gospel true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain salvation in the kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that would displease God. Oh, what a blessing is the gospel. My son, be a good boy.'”
There is much I could say about that incredible vision. But I will only add a few thoughts. First, I love how this deceased father cares so much about his son and his family. That eternal love is the essence of the Gospel. Second, I love his declaration that “we will yet” make an eternal family. It is never too late to seal and family together for eternity thanks to Heavenly Father’s plan. As someone whose father passed away quite recently, that thought brings me a lot of comfort. Third, the spirit world is organized after the pattern of this world. This may be a source of discomfort for those who chafe at Church organization on this earth, but to me it suggests that God has a plan and is not leaving anything to chance. There is a systematic effort to teach the vast number of spirits in the spirit world.
Elder Kopischke added his testimony that deceased sisters are also lanolin dilligently on the other side of the veil. I imagine my mother, preaching the Gospel to her ancestors and those who have not yet heard of it. That thought fills me with such gratitude. Even though she died more than a decade ago, I can sense that we are co-laborers in the work of the Lord. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation and for the remarkable vision and President Nelson’s willingness to share it with the world.