Saturday, March 19, 2016

Temple Work and Family History- Provo Tabernacle to Provo City Temple

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power"
(1 Corinthians 15:42-43).

Well, I was released from my ward and stake callings in Family History- or I should have been- hahaha- because I switched to the Provo Utah Wasatch (Tongan) Stake about a year and a half ago.
And I already loved where I was! I loved my calling and the families that I served- living and dead ( Use that word for your benefit because I do not think of them as dead.  We always exist.)

I switched mainly because I was prompted to- itʻs good when we listen because we are BLESSED.
I was in the temple when I was still serving in the Provo Utah South Stake one day and saw many many Pacific Islanders. I was at the recording office and saw the PUWTS Stake President, President Makai who I recognized from a Moana Nui Utah fireside weʻd held- wonderful brother, wonderful spirit, wonderful leader.
I asked him why everyone was there- he said it was their stake temple day and that they went TWICE a WEEK. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
What great devotion! My stake had a hard time getting people to go once a month!
It was not for awhile that I felt strongly that I should attend the local unit for their stake- located just a short walk from where we live. Also, another huge blessings- Heavenly Father knows we love to live within walking distance. (In fact, before moving here- we prayed to find a home walking distance to everything we frequent- the market, schools, church, river, doctor, etc. And we have. Now our chapel is even closer. I think spending six years in boarding school and then living and working at a city property spoiled me.) First, I attended their gospel doctrine class taught by Sister Fale after our own church services. I received great personal revelation as I participated (having taught my own class for 3.5 years- I had not been in gospel doctrine during that time.)
Then I asked Huali my daughter to consider attending. She was adamantly against it as she had some dear friends in our Native American ward (and my whole life was in that ward- how I love them! What a wonderful, nurturing ward the native ward is! I loved also that reading the Book of Mormon in this ward was not just reading a spiritual ancestorʻs story but literally their own family history)- but agreed. After going once, she said- letʻs switch! hahaha. (I think the curry the Young Women served after church helped. hahaha) I told her to hold on and wait till she went to Young Womenʻs. After going to their activity- that was that.

Temple for us is not alive without Family History and genealogy and vice versa. They go together. The whole point of the temple is to strengthen the eternal bonds of families.
Now that I serve as the Primary President of one of the units in the stake I actually get to work on my own family history and temple work. (I am just kidding, actually- I never thought I would have a more fun and demanding calling than what I had in Family History at the stake and ward level, and I was totally wrong. hahaha. I spend more time on this new calling, BUT I AM SO SO SO thankful for it. It is a very happy, positive place to serve and be blessed. We have 135 children so it is a very large Primary- but our ward and stake put the children first. And we find ways to integrate a love of Family History and the temple into our work.) Our youth have wonderful leaders and go to the temple regularly and have been able to help us with our work. And my stake has helped with hundreds of ordinances.
Much of the work they did was on our Azorean side. (MY great-great-great grandparents were recruited along with others from the Azores, which is a part of Portugal, though like Hawaiʻi, located in the middle of an ocean- in this case, the Atlantic-to work on the sugar plantations the American haole started in Hawaiʻi because the climate was similar, and the Azores also had a sugar cane industry. Their grandson married my great grandmother who hailed from Niʻihau.)

Our  Azorean line sat untouched for decades but I opened it up by finding an online publication and also record matching it with the help of a brother I know from Molokai- Kalani Mondoy- another genealogist. Though I speak Spanish, which does help looking at these old handwritten records in Portuguese- he has spent more time in them and also speaks Portuguese. He helped me corroborate the online publication with the online records the Azores has published.
On entering what I found into the Chief Genealogist of the LDS church contacted me- because we are cousins. :) He converted to the church- except his side of our family 4 generations back went to the East Coast where there is a HUGE intact Portuguese community. At the time he contacted me- he had just returned from Azores. Pretty amazing.
He has taught himself to read the Portuguese records and lives about 15 minutes from us. :) The world is more cozy than we know.

My brotherʻs son was called to serve an LDS mission in Portugal.
Anyway, my brother and his son knocked on our door and I relayed this information to him and also told his son, Hailama, how he would bless our ancestors and relatives. At this point Hailama- who has been raised in the Hawaiian language speaking community and attended a Hawaiian immersion school from pre-school through 12th grade- said, ʻAunty, but Iʻm not that much Podugee.ʻ hahaha
 This is always funny for those of us that serve in Family History.
Quantum means nothing. The eternal sacred view is that we do not exist as we are in mortality without every ancestor- and if you have one- you have thousands of relatives in that line...and more.
They look to us, and we are blessed when w look to them.
I told him I would send him some names from our Portuguese family.
[Whatʻs very funny is our cousin the Chief Genealogist who I had not spoken to for more than a year since a genealogy conference called me the very next day to let me know he had sent me more family names. God is good. God is ALWAYS good.]
I also let my brother know we had made some mutual Hawaiian language contacts here and been running community language classes.
At the same time- I worried Hailama would feel acute aloha kaumaha i kona home coming from such a specific community. (I as an adult had a very difficult time adjusting.) I hoped my friend Lono who is a Hawaiian language kumu/instructor at BYU might run into him when he volunteers at the MTC.
Low and behold. hahaha

It happened not by accident but by blessing that Lono and Hailamaʻs paths crossed at the MTC. Hailama was so happy he wept and then just got to speak freely in his favored tongue
Our language is definitely a part of Family History. It definitely strengthens not just our ability to read ancestral records but to feel a visceral connection to our ancestors and their experiences and world view.
My daughter and I have felt this as we studied Hawaiian this past Fall- my Hawaiian grew in leaps and bounds- and my daughter who has 4 years of Chinese and a year of Spanish- also quickly learned to understand and communicate basics
Plus we made deep connections with other Hawaiians and one malahini who was stationed in Hawaiʻi a lifetime ago.:) We call him Kawika as his English name is David.
I did end up sending Hailama some temple work to do for our Azorean family.I'm glad he felt the Spirit of Elijah as he learned Portuguese and served our family in the temple. Mahalo, e Makuaokalani no keia mau makana.
I thought of him after I watched the celebration tonight. :) So I read his blog updates while listening to this beautiful piece of music that was part of the Cultural Celebration tonight. (Here is the 'ukulele tab if you want to learn to play the song.)
Reading his blog with this music in the background definitely brought the Spirit.
I loved the Provo City Temple Cultural Celebration. I truly felt as I watched it that all of us play our small role but can create a great eternal work.
What joy to bring our brothers and sisters- in an ancestral homeland- to our SAVIOR, Jesus Christ who was born, learned line by line, ministered, taught, suffered, died, and was resurrected that we too could be wholly reunited in body and spirit to our Heavenly Father as intact families.
Tonight my daughter and I reminisced on our experiences of the Provo Tabernacle as we watched the Cultural Celebration - which was under the care taking of the Provo South Stake when I was serving in Family History. I had to give several talks and presentations (once the announcement came that the burnt out Tabernacle would be remade into temple) on the importance of our Stake to prepare for this temple by increasing our efforts in Family History.
One talk in particular (at a Stake Conference and with a visiting 70- it was an odd thing because the Stake President was hurt and only the clerk seemed to know he had asked me to speak, and I did not think the Stake would like what I had to say, and also hoped they would forget I was speaking) came  to me mainly by attending the Provo Temple up behind BYU. After the program, Elder Yamashita, the 70 presiding, asked me how I had heard of their new Family History program since I had covered key point of it in my talk- I said I had not heard of it at all, but gone to the temple. hahaha.

Heavenly Father really wants us to grow, and the temple gives us that opportunity. We definitely grow in ways we could not otherwise do on our own. God makes us more than we are, no matter how inadequate we feel or inexperienced we are- behold our missionaries! :,)
Instruction, revelation, genealogy, covenant making, eternal family, and promised blessings are very much intertwined in our temple worship.
So it was exciting to see this Cultural Celebration for the new Provo City Temple- which will be dedicated tomorrow!
As we watched the celebration we thought of our LDS ancestors and their sacrifice. We thought of GG- my maternal grandmother who served decades in the temples, and, as a BYU student performed in the Tabernacle the solo for Handelʻs Messiah.
I remembered first moving here with my 3rd grader and having no family, but knowing my grandmotherʻs history- had felt like the Tabernacle was our family.
We eventually moved within a few blocks of it.
We thought also of our performance- not a lead role as my grandmother Nathele had performed- but as townspeople in the last Nativity play our stake put on that year inside due to the cold. That was shortly before it burned.
Living nearby we were awakened by the fire engines and cried and cried with many others as we watched it burn.
We saw our beloved Stake President LeGrand Richards speak tonight as he had (via his wife because he received a severe brain injury at the time he was meant to speak in Stake Conference all those years back- his doctors said they had no idea how he was even alive because of the brain bleeding- yet again we see him on the video production tonight speaking, well and healthy) of being instructed when he went to visit the charred ruins of the Tabernacle, that if Heavenly Father wanted to remodel it, it was His house and He could.
We recalled sitting in the Visitorʻs Center during General Conference and watching President Monson via the feed to the movie theater there announce it would be a temple. We cried and cried again. This time tears of joy and wonder.
We attended the groundbreaking in person. My daughterʻs classmate and her dad flew in a hot air balloon above it.

We were briefly reunited with Elder Holland to give him a lei.
He had 13 years early given her and I his apostolic blessing that everything would be well. I had first gotten involved in the church at this time (my parents were in and out of the church- my most regular time was in Primary for 2 years on Molokai) . Huali, my daughter, had just been a baby. He hugged us in the side hall after a Stake Conference held in San Jose, California., waving off his security. I felt like Zacchaeus the tax collector trying to glimpse Christ as he came through Jericho. I, being a young looking (members often told me things like I should finish high school- hahaha- at this point I had two BAʻs from Stanford), single mom was not an exact fit for the social politics of the members, but I believed in Jesus Christ and the his gospel, and I sought him out, as Zacchaeus did. It was moments like this that reminded me Heavenly Father knew me by name, and that the judgments and assumptions of others were not of Him.
This was during a very tragic time in our life when my ex husband was being prosecuted for domestic violence and we were entering a high conflict and very sad custody fight (that would not be resolved for almost a decade when we moved to Utah on the counsel of a member of our Bishopric. Of course, I prayed and fasted about that counsel. It is wonderful that we can always know for ourselves what is good and true.)
In Utah we had my custody reinforced but also had to go overseas for visits- which we did for years- spending weeks and months there. Difficult at first to be somewhere without family or friends, and financially challenging to keep two separate places at once- but every challenge brings GREAT blessings.
I have always loved Aotearoa- we ʻoiwi Hawaiʻi are cousins with the Maori. I love its land and waters and beaches. I love its mountains and forests. And I love its people and visitors- who I bonded with- making enduring friendships.
Before the first visit, I was inspired to collect her fatherʻs family genealogy after reading a chapter about Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to  obtain the records which was so valuable as it held their from the time of the Creation and Father Adam down to the reign of Zedekiah- who ruled during their time, was need to preserve their fatherʻs language, the teaching of the kauoha/commandmants, and...which also held their genealogy. I knew when I read this, that I should collect the genealogy.

When we visited Aotearoa- she learned about her living family, including him, and I learned about his family through the veil.
I shard this genealogy with her fatherʻs family and it had an immediate effect on our relationship and interaction. We do try our best to coparent now, and they are more respectful of her choices of faith and activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am glad that genealogy opened up connections not only for her dead(as we learned more about her Chinese immigrant family who came to New Zealand during the gold rush- one uncle eventually becoming a legendary rugby player and referee who invented the "sin bin" for flagrant penalties- something still used today in Rugby Union and that I am familiar with having played international rugby; we also learned of an uncle who is one of New Zealandʻs most famous maritime engineers (and sailing is absolutely HUGE there), and of the her Irish side who settled in a beautiful part of Waikato), but also for her living.
Having raised Huali on my own- it has been a blessing for her to have this added support. And I do believe our dead and future progeny cheer for us from the other side as well.

That day at the groundbreaking of the Provo City Temple I told my daughter Huali- Elder Hollandʻs blessing had been fulfilled and I cried tears of gratitude that all, was indeed, well.
We have been so incredibly blessed to live here in Provo, Utah.
Of course, there were extreme challenges that I would not wish on anyone, but great are the blessings of this ʻaina momona/abundant land.
In the months and years after the groundbreaking, we watched as the epic process of engineering the remodel while preserving the architectural intent and design continued.
And then now, in 2016 through some glitches- I was able to get us tickets to go to the temple Open House on my daughterʻs birthday in mid January. We went with one of my sisters and Lono.
On our way in we saw a wonderful family from our native ward that we love- the father is Navajo and the mother is Mexican. We got to see their son, Bubbles- who we had not seen since he left for his mission to Mexico, and their son Andrew who is now a big teenager, and their talented daughters- Babi and April.
Whatʻs funny-is in looking through my picture archives I realized we had lunch with this awesome family the day of the groundbreaking. Maria makes the best fresh tortillas! And Jerry is always there to lend a hand.

While waiting at the temple Open House in the gazebo for my beautiful and happy sister to arrive -- who should appear but ko makou hoaloha ʻo Kawika with his darling wife and beautiful family! Kawika is a charming tutukane/grandfather and was a true blessing to our papa/class. My favorite memory is when we were learning the words of Nani Ke Ao Nei and doing a very rudimentary hula. As we made the sign of the manu/bird- a large bluebird- big as my forearm- came to the window. hahaha.
So happy. pololei- nani  ke ao nei!
I cried tears of joy in the Open House as we toured the inside of the temple. Such detail to the historical period of the original Tabernacle- a favortie period of mine, but mainly I cried because it is truly amazing and miraculous!
Godʻs vision and plan for us, like the Tabernacle, is more than we can imagine.
Also the Native American ward which we used to attend did a WONDERFUL job on the ushering. I was so impressed with how smooth it all went.

The next time I went through the Open House- I went to surprise meet my college rugby friends- the Blunts who were in town from Costa Rica. A Beautiful family. I was happy to see their children- growing up so happy and well. I loved taking this familyʻs picture outside the temple.Katrinka and Bobby have known Huali from the time she was growing inside my waihona.
Our hanai Grandma Ardyth who Sweet interviewed for a history project sent us back the jacket Huali left behind and some white embroidered Provo City Temple handkerchiefs to use tomorrow at the dedication when we do the Hallelujah Shout.
I always wanted to live walking distance to a temple- this is my second opportunity! I hope I will take advantage of it.

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