“When the Lord Opened My Eyes,” Liahona, June 2000, 30–31
What a wonderful story, I thought as I paused and looked up from my scriptures. I had been reading in 2 Kings chapter 6 about the prophet Elisha.
Israel was at war with Syria, and the king of Syria sent an army to the city of Dothan to capture Elisha. When Elisha’s servant saw that Dothan was surrounded by Syrian troops, he cried, “Alas, my master! how shall we do?” (2 Kgs. 6:15).
“Fear not,” Elisha reassured him, “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (verse 16). Elisha asked the Lord to open the eyes of his fearful servant. In a very dramatic scene, the servant’s spiritual eyes were opened, and he saw that the mountain on which they stood “was full of horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kgs. 6:17).
I quickly marked the verses. I loved this story and continued to think about it. As a matter of fact, I hoped for a similar manifestation myself. I was doing family history research and had experienced many difficulties gathering information. Most of my relatives did not remember much about our ancestors, and many of the records documenting baptisms, marriages, and deaths had been destroyed during bombings of the Philippines in World War II.
I persevered, expecting some kind of great and dramatic event. I had heard many accounts of people doing family history and temple work receiving divine assistance through dreams or other sacred experiences and finding the information they sought.
But as I continued to search old records and visit graveyards, I had no dramatic experiences. No dreams came. I had no visits from the spirit world. And yet the way opened before me. One time at the local Family History Center, another patron left some microfilm out. When I examined it, I discovered it contained the 19th-century census records of my hometown. I was thrilled to discover that the records included lists of entire families, their birth and death dates, and their occupations.
Using the microfilm, I spent weeks reconstructing family relationships. Eventually I identified six generations on my father’s side. I was jubilant and showed my work to one of my relatives. “You are half my age,” she cried in astonishment, “and you know more about my grandfather than I do!”
But another challenge remained, for I had little information on my mother’s lineage. Her parents live on an island far to the south of us, many kilometers away, and I didn’t have the money to go there.
Then one day my mother surprised me by announcing, “Your grandfather wants all of us to come home for a reunion.”
“When?” I asked happily.
“As soon as possible.”
Fortunately, we were able to get the money to pay for our plane tickets. At the reunion I was able to obtain a great deal of information from my mother’s relatives, and I promptly submitted the names of 86 ancestors to the Manila Philippines Temple. My collection of names was modest compared to some, but I was very happy about it.
One radiant February morning I went to the Manila temple and was baptized for one ancestor after another. As I stood in the baptismal font, I kept hoping to see my ancestors or hear their voices. I returned to the temple on succeeding days to complete the work, still expecting to have some kind of spectacular experience. I also thought I might have a dream about my ancestors. Or perhaps the hearts of my nonmember relatives would be softened and they would want to know more about my research. Perhaps they would even be converted.
But none of these things happened. The days continued to go by in an ordinary fashion. I was disturbed and asked myself, Where are the blessings of the Lord? Where are the blessings He has promised those who help redeem the dead?
I went to the temple again a few nights later to attend an endowment session. While there, I gazed into the calm waters of the baptismal font. All of a sudden I realized something I had overlooked: Wasn’t the privilege of being baptized for my ancestors a wonderful blessing in itself? I thought of all the valuable records I had discovered during my research. Hadn’t the Lord prepared my way? Hadn’t I been able to accomplish more than I thought I could?
Then the scripture from the Old Testament flashed into my mind. The eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened, and he saw the army of the Lord. The Lord opened my eyes and gave me an understanding of the blessings I had received. As I left the temple that night, I felt nothing but gratitude.
I have learned that when we open our spiritual eyes, we see that blessings need not be dramatic; we see and are grateful for the simple manifestations of the Lord’s love in our lives. At times I still tend to forget this, but then I, too, offer the prayer of Elisha, “Lord, open my eyes that I may see.”