“The Spirit of Eliza,” Friend, May 2018
The Spirit of Eliza
The authors live in Alberta, Canada, and Utah, USA.
Eliza loved family history. But could she talk about it in front of everyone at church?
“I am doing it, my fam’ly history. And the love I feel when I’m doing it is very sweet to me” (Children’s Songbook, 94).
Eliza smiled as she walked back to her seat. Sharing her testimony in sacrament meeting had made butterflies flutter in her stomach. But she’d also felt the Holy Ghost, and that made it worth it.
After sacrament meeting, Bishop Baldry walked over to Eliza and her family.
“Thanks for sharing your testimony today, Eliza,” the bishop said. “It was really great.”
Eliza felt her cheeks get warm. “Thanks!”
“Would you be willing to give a short talk about family history next week?”
“Um—” Eliza’s heart started racing.
“Eliza, you love family history!” Dad said. “That’d be the perfect topic for you.”
“I don’t know,” Eliza said, looking down at her shoes. “It’s hard enough to say my testimony. I don’t think I could stand up there and give a talk.”
“That’s OK,” the bishop said. “Let me know if you change your mind.” He smiled as he walked away.
Dad patted Eliza’s shoulder. “I think you’d give a great talk about family history. If you change your mind, I could help you get ready and practice. Then maybe you wouldn’t feel as nervous.”
Mom nodded. “And Heavenly Father would help you too.”
Eliza thought about standing up in front of everyone. Those butterflies in her stomach started to flutter again.
Then she thought about family history, and she felt more peaceful. Maybe she could give a talk next week.
“OK,” Eliza said. “Where’s the bishop?”
That week, Eliza spent a long time writing her talk. She learned about the prophet Elijah. She learned how, when we get excited about doing family history, we call that feeling “the spirit of Elijah.” My name sounds kind of like Elijah, she thought. She added that as a joke to begin her talk.
But what if no one laughed at her joke? What if she talked too fast? What if she got tongue-tied and couldn’t talk at all?
Her dad helped her practice all week. He got out the broom for a pretend microphone. The first time Eliza read her talk out loud, she couldn’t stop laughing at her joke. But she kept practicing until she could give her whole talk without messing up or going too fast.
On Sunday, Eliza sat on the stand in the chapel. Her heart thumped as she watched the room fill up. She prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help her feel calm.
After the sacrament was over, Eliza heard the bishop say her name. Her legs wobbled as she walked to the microphone. She took a deep breath. “Hi, my name is Eliza. My talk is about family history. I was asked to give this talk because I have the spirit of Eliza—I mean, the spirit of Elijah.” People smiled, and some even laughed.
The butterflies fluttered in her stomach while she spoke. But Eliza also felt the Holy Ghost helping her along. Finally, her first talk was almost over! “I’m glad I got to share my love for family history with you. I know that when I do family history, I am helping people who died without learning about the gospel. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
What Is the Spirit of Elijah?
An Old Testament prophet named Elijah visited Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. He gave them the power to seal families in the temple. When people feel the Holy Ghost inspiring them to do family history work so their families can be sealed, we call that feeling “the spirit of Elijah.”