A Marvelous Work

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“A Marvelous Work,” Liahona, Nov. 1996, 22

A Marvelous Work

When I joined the Church in 1973, the doctrine of the redemption of the dead penetrated deep into my heart. As a new member of the Church, I made a commitment to do the vicarious work for my ancestors who had died without knowledge of the gospel.

At that time I lived in Madrid, Spain, about 500 kilometers from Asturias, the little place where I was born—and where, supposedly, the greater part of my ancestors’ records were located. I used many vacations and weekends looking for these records, traveling hundreds of kilometers. Sometimes I would lock myself up for entire days in the parish offices of Catholic churches, surrounded by old, and often illegible, records.

The love I felt for my ancestors helped me overcome these inconveniences. I brushed off the dirt, mended the torn books and pages, and learned to read the many, many books that came into my hands. With the help of these parish records, as well as civil records, family records, wills, newspapers, and photographs, I began to put together a picture of my ancestors’ lives. I came to know them to some extent and to rejoice in their happiness and mourn with them in their sorrows.

But the time came when it seemed I could do no more. Too many records had been destroyed. Asturias has been one of the most embattled areas in Spain’s history, and many records had been destroyed in its conflicts. I tried to go on using family sources but met with little success.

Sometimes I was discouraged when I thought of how easy it was for some people to do family history research. I read miraculous accounts in the Liahona of others finding needed information. Why couldn’t that happen to me? The records I needed had to be somewhere.

In 1994 I decided that I would vacation in a certain area and visit the parishes there one more time. As usual, after I had finished searching, I was in exactly the same place where I had begun. I felt quite discouraged. I had used up my vacations for 20 years, had traveled thousands of kilometers, had searched through mountains of books, had spoken with hundreds of people, and had spent a great deal of money. But for what?

My wife and I packed our suitcases to return to Madrid. Then at the last moment, I decided to make one more attempt. I returned again to one of the churches I had visited so many times before.

But this time, as I was looking in a certain record, the very names and dates that I needed suddenly appeared right before my eyes! My legs went weak, and a great cry of joy came out of my mouth. Tears rushed to my eyes, blinding me.

I hadn’t found the information on any of my previous attempts because the names were incorrectly registered. But once discovered, this precious record even referred me to other records that had not been destroyed in war—records that I never knew existed. Now the temple work could be done for these ancestors!

I was able to return to Madrid feeling extremely blessed. Like Nephi, I know that our Father in Heaven loves us and that he never gives us a commandment without preparing the way for us to carry it out.