Missionary News

Banbury Ward Mission Plan: “Love, Share, Invite”

Banbury Ward Missionary Goals

Monthly Missionary Ideas for Members for June:

* Pray as an individual or family of whom you can minister and show acts of love towards.

* Share an uplifting, simple expression of your faith on social media.

* Invite the missionaries to share a gospel message in your home.

* Pray specifically for a missionary experience in your morning prayers.  Keep the prayer in your heart throughout the day and act.

Message from a Missionary Serving from the Banbury Ward:

When I was 12 years-old I received my patriarchal blessing. I remember that day well as the patriarch had to travel some distance to a rented church building to give blessings to those that lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

We young members waited in the hallway until it was our turn to meet the patriarch in a small classroom. The sun was streaming through the window onto the floor as I sat in a chair ready for this sacred experience to begin. Our Patriarch was Moroni Hamberlin and he was an elderly gentleman and his voice shook as he pronounced my blessing. In this blessing, one of the things I was told was that I would have the Spirit of Elijah. At that time in my life, I really didn’t understand what that meant. 

Now, after having served for years as a Family History consultant, missionary and long-term volunteer, I know, not only what the Spirit of Elijah means and of the great blessings attached, but I have seen others not of our faith embrace that spirit and have a great longing and desire to find and know more about their own ancestors. 

Naftali Shoshany, whom we met as our tour guide in Israel, is one of those people. He lives in the Galilee in Israel. His family came from northern Ukraine. Many were there during the Holocaust, but he had some family members that immigrated to New York and Chicago in the early 1900s. 

One day, while we were touring the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem, I asked Naftali about his ancestors in the Ukraine. He took us into an office there, got on a computer, and showed me the research he had done on his family line. He asked if our church had access to records in the Ukraine and U.S. etc., and that conversation led to me researching his family in the United States for almost a year. This was in 2008. To this day, we still occasionally keep in contact as he continues his research for his missing family in Ukraine. 

Another time, my best friend and her husband from Kentucky met us in Utah one summer. I had first met her in Shreveport in a junior high school class, and she would often come to church or early morning seminary with me. She loved our church’s emphasis on families. While she and her husband were visiting, we took them on a tour of the family history library. Her husband was amazed at what we found on his family and wanted to know more. He didn’t want to leave the center as he was so excited with our discoveries. That led to her flying out to stay with me for a few weeks to research his family tree and make the beginning of a genealogy book for his family. The spirit of Elijah was at work!

I have many more stories I could tell you of neighbors and friends who have expressed how their hearts have been turned to their fathers, even though they don’t say it in those scriptural words. 

There was a sweet experience I had with a Catholic sister that I called on the phone while training “super indexers” on how to navigate the new Family Search website. The “super indexers” were those who had indexed an inordinate amount of records, and not only were experts but were very much appreciated and valued for the work they had contributed to family history. This sister told me she worked on all types of records in Serbo-Croatian, German, French, and English. She didn’t know Spanish well and wished that she did. I asked her why she did all this volunteer work for our church and she said that her mother had used the family search program and was so grateful for the help she received finding many of her ancestors. This daughter, realizing this, wanted to give back. 

I will end with this sweet, inspired line from a super indexer who, when asked why she loved to index, replied, “I like going to bed at night knowing that I have done something this day that affects eternal things.“

I am thankful to be a part of this sacred work. I have found great joy in doing the work for my ancestors and in sharing this joy with those who are not of our faith. I have found that in times of trial and sorrow, when I shift my focus and do family history work and help others in their quest to find their families, I have been blessed with a comforting peace and with an assurance that all will be well. 

For this I am eternally grateful!

“Elijah came to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to the fathers. With that, natural affection between generations began to be enriched. This restoration was accompanied by what is sometimes called the Spirit of Elijah—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. Hence, people throughout the world, regardless of religious affiliation, are gathering records of deceased relatives at an ever-increasing rate.”

—Elder Russell M. Nelson, “A New Harvest Time,” May 1998 general conference

-Sister Suzann Swenson