A Simple Sheet of Paper

A Simple Sheet of Paper

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

A Simple Sheet of Paper

Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fullness of their glory.

D&C 121:27

When we moved to a smaller home, I lost my separate office—so I dutifully set up an office space in the end of my new family room. Next to my computer table I used a two-drawer wooden filing cabinet to hold all my office supplies, and I carefully loaded it with the things I knew I’d use most often. The top drawer, which I accessed many times a day, held essentials like paper clips, tape, a stapler, pens, pencils and markers.

I was working hard on family history research, and was trying to extend several lines on my father’s side of the family. My father died when I was ten—and his father died six months after that—so I couldn’t go to either of them for help. I had exhausted all the usual sources of information, and had even spent several long days at the library searching census and parish records. Still there was nothing.

I couldn’t understand how an entire family could just drop off the face of the Earth! There had to be a clue, somewhere. I suppressed the temptation to move on to other, infinitely easier, lines of research on my mother’s side of the family. Though I couldn’t locate my father’s ancestors, I knew beyond any doubt that they had accepted the gospel and were anxiously waiting for the saving ordinances to be performed on their behalf. As the only member of the Church in my father’s line, I knew I had the responsibility to see that those ordinances were performed.

Sitting at my computer that morning, the responsibility weighed on me. If I didn’t follow through on these lines— only a generation or two removed from me—I knew no one else would. I knew, too, that on the other side of the veil those family members had been patiently taught the gospel and were prayerfully waiting for the work to be done. Yet I had done all I could.

Or had I?

Humbly I closed my eyes, bowed my head and petitioned my Heavenly Father from the depths of my soul. “Oh, Heavenly Father,” I pleaded, “I know these people have accepted the truth. I know, too, that it’s up to me to find them. I have tried so hard. I have done everything I know to do. It is with great faith that I place this task in Thy hands, and plead with Thee to lead me to the information that will unlock the door. In return, I promise to do everything in my power to be receptive to the promptings of Thy Spirit.”

I finished my prayer, then stared at my computer monitor. Still nothing. Knowing my prayer had been heard and would be answered in His own way, I began gathering up the papers I had been working on. I opened the top drawer of my wooden filing cabinet to get a paper clip.

Sitting on top of my dish of paper clips was a carefully folded piece of onionskin paper. I was puzzled. The paper had not been there earlier that morning. And that’s not all: I hadn’t seen paper like that since I was a child, when my mother had used it for carbon copies on her old manual typewriter. But here it was, in my top drawer, crisp and white as though it was brand-new.

I unfolded it and stared in stunned amazement. It was a hand-drawn pedigree chart. In the first space was my father’s name. Written across the top of the paper in my mother’s precise handwriting was the simple instruction, “Just fill in what you can, Dad. Thanks.” She had mailed it to my grandfather in Miami more than forty years earlier, but he had never returned it to her.

I scanned the paper eagerly. Scribbled across the lines of the pedigree chart in my grandfather’s halting handwriting were the names—the precious names for which I had so diligently searched. Penned in beneath the names were dates and places, more information than I could have ever dreamed possible.

My grandfather had returned the paper—more than four decades after his death, to a granddaughter who was doing everything she could to bring the saving ordinances of the gospel to his family. I can’t begin to imagine where he had kept the paper, so carefully creased and folded so the fountain-pen ink wouldn’t smear or run—but he had kept it in flawless condition until he could deliver it to me that morning.

What joy filled my soul as I completed the research and submitted the names for temple ordinances. And what joy I feel each time I attend the temple with one of those names, knowing that he may have helped deliver to me the paper that unlocked the door to salvation.

Kathy Frandsen

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