I Will, Dad, I Will!
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“I Will, Dad, I Will!” Ensign, July 1996, 66

“I Will, Dad, I Will!”

Walking down the long school corridor on a hot summer’s day in Australia, I was on my way to teach my next class when a friend and fellow teacher approached me. As he drew closer I had an uneasy feeling come over me.

“Malcolm,” he said, “I have bad news for you. Your father passed away yesterday.”

I was devastated. My father lived halfway around the world from us in South Wales, Great Britain. I wondered how my mother was dealing with her great loss and how I should break the news to my wife and children.

Gathering my family around me after work that day, I told them of my father’s passing. It was a bitter blow for them. We had spent the last two years taking on extra work so that we could afford to spend Christmas with our families in South Wales. My wife had taken our four-year-old daughter at six o’clock every morning to pick oranges in nearby orange groves, cleaned homes, and sold cosmetics door-to-door. My spare time had been spent repairing houses to earn money for the trip.

The excitement we had felt earlier about our Christmas vacation immediately dimmed. Our plans changed to finding ways of comforting my mother as loneliness settled around her.

Realizing that for many years I had not told my father that I loved him, and feeling keenly the loss of that opportunity, I prayed daily for a chance to tell my father that I loved him. Nine months passed, and I kept pleading with the Lord. Then one night, soon after I had fallen asleep, I saw my father. He looked youthful, his skin clear, not marked as before by his years of working in the coal mines. His countenance was one of joy—a memory that lives with me today.

He smiled at me and we talked. Then his smile disappeared and he said, “Malcolm, do the temple work for me.” I was stunned. My father had not been a member of the Church. Immediately the image began to fade. I called after him, “I will, Dad, I will!”

I realized then that I had missed my chance to tell him that I loved him! Suddenly the thought came to me: If I want my father to know I love him, I must fulfill his request and do the work for him.

That opportunity finally came. We had planned to spend a week at the London Temple to perform ordinances. My thoughts, however, revolved around my father’s request. Upon entering the temple, I was disappointed to learn that because his name had not been processed in time, I could not yet do the temple work for him. Yet, the staff assured me that they would have the necessary processing done so that I could stand as proxy for my father before I left England.

The week passed, but still the processing had not been completed. When I asked about the matter on the last morning of my stay in London, the response was the same.

My spirits plummeted. Under the weight of disappointment, my self-control crumbled. Tears welled up in my eyes. Then I heard a voice from behind me inquire, “What is the problem, Brother Dearden?” It was a counselor in the temple presidency. I explained the problem to him, and his kind assistance brought quick results.

Upon receipt of the requisite paper, he asked me to follow him. When we reached the baptistry, he issued instructions to the workers and I was led to the changing rooms.

Finally I stood as proxy for my father and was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. Following another hurried walk and my helper’s similar instructions to the workers, I was allowed to proceed through the remaining temple ordinances—only to experience a series of electrical power failures in the temple! I prayed to Father in Heaven to let me fulfill my promise to my father, so that he would know how much I loved him. Eventually the electrical power stayed on and I was able to complete my father’s temple work and return home feeling closer than ever before to both my earthly father and my Heavenly Father.