Sunday, October 19, 2008

Answers for Kathryn M

I got a comment from Kathryn M a couple of days ago. It had some questions I thought might be beneficial to clear up for her and any others who may have been wondering.  Here were her questions:

Do all wards attend at different times? It doesn't seem possible that there would be a new Temple built each time a new ward is formed, right? So I am assuming there are appointed times for each.

At some point, I would really like to know more about parents having the opportunity to raise their children who have died young. In my presently muddled mind, I am unable to reconcile the ages of our other children or ourselves once we have all passed to Glory. Other than the reference to children who die young, I couldn't find anything more about ages. Since there is neither growth or development in the grave .... well, you no doubt can sense my confusion. To put it bluntly, it seems certain that Camille will be 14 months old when you are reunited but what about the rest of your family?

The first part there needs a bit of vocabulary definition. Wards are congregations of about 300-500 hundred people. We are divided into wards geographically. When a ward becomes very large, our leaders at higher up levels make new geographic lines and split or realign a ward. Or they make split a ward into two and create a new ward. 

Wards meet in meeting houses we call churches or chapels. You may see these in any neighborhood. There are two within 2 miles of our home. Usually two or three wards meet each week in one chapel. They meet at set intervals, usually at 9 a.m. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. if there are three wards in that building. We go to church for 3 hours. 75 minutes of that is spent in a meeting we call sacrament meeting. Everyone goes to sacrament meeting. All the kids, all the babies, everyone. So in the overlap, all of one ward is in the chapel portion of the building while the other ward is finishing up Sunday school classes in the classroom portion of the building.

In our area, there has been much growth. We have had to do several ward splits in the last few years. We have 9 wards in our stake (the next level up of leadership usually comprising 8-12 wards). We only have 2 buildings in our stake's geographical area. So the church is in the process of building a new church to accommodate us. Till then we are attending at other church buildings in other stakes that only had 2 wards using them.

Temples on the other hand are very large and special buildings that are not very common. We have one here in Las Vegas. There are about 125-130 Temples in the world. These are not places we go on Sunday to do our weekly worship services. Temples are far more holy than a regular chapel. They are considered to be the House of God. In them, members make sacred covenants or promises with the Lord and receive sacred blessings. 

We go once to make these covenants for ourselves and then we return as often as we can to also make these covenants for our deceased ancestors who did not have a chance to make these promises in their life. For example, we are baptized for the dead so that all of God's children can have the opportunity to accept or reject this baptism from the Spirit world.

Okay. Now I know that probably raised even more questions for some but I am going to move on to the second part of Kathryn's questions on afterlife.

When we die, we go to the Spirit world. Our body is here and our spirit is separated from it. One of our modern day prophets, Joseph F. Smith, has taught us that "when a baby dies, it goes back into the spirit world, and the spirit assumes its natural form as an adult, for we were all adults before we were born." He explains that some spirits that show themselves to us will show themselves to us as we knew them, a child or old person. But that is for our benefit so that we recognize who it is. Normally in the spirit world, all spirits are in the form of a man or woman in their adult prime and not aged  or childhood state. 

The prophets Joseph Smith and Joseph F. Smith, both of whom lost several of their own children, taught us much on the death or little children and what happens to them. I will summarize for you. If you want references I suggest the book Angel Children by Mary Hill. She does a great compilation. 

When a child dies, his or her body stops growing and progressing. It is laid in the grave. The spirit of this child continues to progress. Eventually Jesus Christ will come once more to the earth and usher in a new millennium. At his second coming many will begin to be resurrected. This means their spirits will reunite with their bodies. Eventually this will happen for all who have ever lived on the earth. This is the blessing of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He truly did break the bands of death.

When Camille is resurrected, her body will come from the grave as it was when she died. She will be a 14 month old. Her body will be different in that she will not be able to die or get sick. It will be a perfect little body healed of all the wounds that took her life. But she will still be little and someone will have to teach and train her as her body grows to its full stature. Someone has to teach her to walk and ride a bike and talk and do a cartwheel. The prophets have taught us that the people who will do that will be their mothers and fathers. A mother who loses her child in this life will, in that millennium of peace after Christ comes, have the privilege of raising and training the child she lost with her husband, provided they have lived worthy of such a blessing. 

As for the rest of us, I hope my husband and I and our other children will be old grandparents when we die. We will also be raised from the dead after the second coming and will come forth as we were laid down. I imagine in the instant of resurrection our bodies will still be aged or will look the age at which we died. But our bodies will be restored to their perfect frame and we will come to look the same age as our spirits are in their natural state. We will grow young. Jon will get all his hair back. I will have a stomach that doesn't look like it has carried 4 babies. :) I am looking forward to that. I am not sure how long this will take to grow young. Maybe it will be in the blink of an eye. Maybe it will be more gradual. But it will happen. 

I hope that helps some Kathryn. I know this is a long post. You can email me at stephaniewaite@gmail.com if you want to discuss some of this more in depth. What I can tell you is that 5 months ago I knew this teaching in our church and I thought it was ... nice. Today, it is the reason I am able to get up every morning and live with hope. I know the part about Camille being an adult spirit is true. I have felt her, as an adult, on numerous occasions. It has been a new experience for me to get to know her on such a different level. I believe and am counting on being able to raise her to maturity. I am trying to live my life worthy of that blessing. I trust the Lord that he will restore unto me all that I have lost in losing Camille so young.

This is my great hope in life. It is the good news of the gospel. Death is not the victor in this story. Jesus Christ has overcome death and we will all partake of this blessing of the resurrection one day.

25 comments:

Melinda said...

Stephanie,
That was a great post. You did an excellent job explaining some difficult topics. I love the part about someone has to teach Camille to ride a bike and do cartwheels.I am sure the promised blessing of being reunited with Camille in her little 14 month old state is such a calm assurance that all will one day be well for your family. Thanks for sharing your journey so openly. You are an inspiration

Amber said...

Wow, I am amazed! I have never heard a better explanation of the plan of salvation with such incredible plain and simple words. It is a beautiful plan of Eternal Families! Your strength is so amazing. I love the perspective of looking at our children as our spiritual brothers and sisters that we have been given the opportunity to raise. What amazing lessons our children can teach us.

Kim C said...

You are so inspiring to me. Thank you for your honesty and sincerity. What a beautiful reminder to live according to the covenants we have made. May your week be one of peace and joy.

Erin Lafleur said...

When my son passed in March a lady in our ward gave me a copy of Angel Children and I have re-read it several times as it gives me so much hope. I also echo your feelings that before my son passed I thought this a beautiful doctrine but now it is the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps me moving forward every day. Thank you for sharing.

Marylin and Jimmy said...

What a wonderful post! I love how you explained it. I know that your blog will help so many learn about the gospel that do not know about it and so many others that already do. Thanks, peace be with you.

Lori said...

We are members of the church as well, but your post gave me goosebumps & tears.

The Ortega Family said...

Stephanie, I want you to know what an inspiration you are to me. I am a member but have been innactive since I was 16 (I am 28 now). A few months ago I was introduced to your blog and now am a daily reader. You have opened my eyes to so much, your faith and strength help me! My missionaroes visit me once a week and two weeks ago I hade both my children, a 3 year old boy and 8 month old girl, blessed. That was something I wanted for so long but needed to prepare myself for. So I wanted you to know I love you, I thank you, you have taught me more than you know and I am still learning from you. I am deeply sorry for your loss, but I am also grateful you are doing this blog and helping so many others!

Love Britnney

Brad, Rebecca, Jacob said...

I have been a member of the church all of my life and I think you do a wonderful job of explaining things that most of us would really muff up. What a great post and I sure hope Kathryn M. understands a little more about our beliefs and the truths held therein.

The "Street" Clairs said...

Thanks for the answers. I had never truly understood what happens to children and I appreciate the simple and understanding way you worded it.

Brittany said...

WOW, that was such a great post. You answered those questions so beautifully!! I am a member, but never truly understood how all of that worked. What a beautiful day it will be when the Savior Returns!! And how amazing will it be to hold your precious girl in your arms again!

Mimi's Toes said...

Wow, I really learned something that I never knew before. Thank you for explaining your faith to us. I was brought up differently than you, but I really understand more of what you are saying. You are such a great teacher Stephanie.

Jeanenne said...

Stephanie,
echoeing the great job statements. After Holly passed away this all became my reason to get up too. We have talked to our kids about this and my 12 year old son was still looking sad and up set about something. I tried to explain that she would come back with Jesus in the millenium and be 2 1/2 just like she was when she left and we would get to raise her. He was still disterbed and said "I know that, but how old will I be? It just won't be the same." We cried together again and all I could say was I don't know our ages but I know that we have been promised that it will be better than if she were allowed to stay here on earth. When it comes to sibblings and extended families how do they fit in to raising our sweet babies?

Stephanie said...

Jeanenne,

I too have wondered how it will be for the siblings. I imagine they will have some role in helping raise our children. I believe the gospel is one of restoration and they too have lost. I believe that they too will feel that all has been restored to them.

I tell my girls that Annie gets to teach Cami to read and Sabrina gets to teach her to do cartwheels. Lauren is going to help teach her to talk. And as far as age is concerned, I think age will be an entirely irrelevant thing there. I think your son will be able to feel 12 again if he wants to and he will get to have all the joy in seeing Holly grow and learn as he would have had here ... only it will be better. He will not have to ever go through a stage of being 16 and so into his friends he doesn't have time for his kid sister.

I feel like all our extended family and all Camille's siblings will find great joy in watching her grow and develop when we are able to raise her. I really do believe it will be an even more enjoyable experience, even if it will be different in many ways.

Heather H said...

Again that was simply beautiful, thank you again for sharing with all of us.

Kathryn said...

Hi Stephanie:

Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond. I truly do appreciate it.

I didn't see until now that you had posted your e-mail address following my questions.

I surely will be taking you up on that offer :)

Love 'n hugs,
kathryn_m

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I attended a funeral of twins today who lived for 20 and 40 minutes. I am a member of the church, but it is still hard to understand why some things happen. You have such a wonderful way of explaining things. It could be due to my emotional state today, but this blog entry brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all you do!

2thfairy said...

I just wanted to tell you, you are awesome! My girls are now making up reasons to come over. Thanks for the eggs!
Jan

Gwenevere said...

So are you opening your blog up for gospel discussion? I won't start a debate just yet, but if I ever do, don't take it personal, it's just how I come to understand. Plus it's my way of ensuring that both sides receive adequate representation and that neither side has it's rights violated. :)

Stephanie said...

gwenevere,

Normally I would welcome your debate style of learning. I love to debate. There was a reason I went to law school.

However, I am not emotionally at a place yet where I think I can handle this style of learning or discussing.

So in short, no. I am not opening up my blog for gospel debate. I feel fine answering questions if people have them about the basics of the gospel. But I am trying to keep what I put on here in line with what we have been taught by the prophets. I do not want to invite those who disagree with the prophets to take issue with them here. There are plenty of other places on the web people can do that. I just am not in a place where I can go there.

I think everything I have put in this post is fairly sound doctrinally. The parts about resurrection and the Spirit World are taken from the Angel Children book I mentioned which is complied from many different sources written by prophets. You can get the book if you like. It has a nice bibliography.

If you have questions you are free to write them in a comment. If there is a part you think I got wrong, you can email me about it. I have no problem being corrected. But generally I am trying to avoid topics that are "debatable" in the gospel. Those are topics where there is no official doctrine. I have my own opinions on many of those subjects. I am sure we all do. But I am not opening my blog up for debating them. Sorry.

Love, Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,
Thank you for explaining it so beautifully. I was talking to my husband about that if you lose a child in this life, if you are worthy, you will be able to raise him/her in the millenium. He is a life long member, but never heard of this. Do you have a good references that I could show to him?

Also, I do have a question about raising a child that has passed on. I know that Camille is learning and growing right now as we speak. When you are able to raise her, does she forget the things she has learned while you are separated, or does that knowledge that she has learned aid in you raising her? I don't know if my question is coming out the right way, but I guess I don't understand how she is growing and learning so much, what principals will be taught when you are raising her? Thank you for you help. You seem so knowledgeable, and I appreciate you willingness to answer questions.

Stephanie said...

To anonymous,
One reference for you on that doctrine is the book "Gospel Doctrine" by Joseph Smith on pages 453-54. I took that reference from the Angel Children books footnote. Another is the Improvement Era June 1904 by Joseph F. Smith, in an article called On the Resurrection. Joseph Fielding Smith talks about this also in Doctrines of Salvation. I think page 56.

As for your further questions about how knowledgeable my little Camille will be ... I am sorry to say I just don't know for sure. I imagine she will come with all the knowledge she has gained in the meantime because she will no longer need the veil of forgetfulness. She will no longer be being tested. She only will need to let her body grow to the stature of her natural spirit. But I don't know of any statement by a prophet concerning the matter. It will be different/ better raising her then because there will be no worry or risk of losing her spiritually or physically. That much has been said in the above references.

Also, she will have the opportunity to choose a companion and marry in the millennium. This is also found in Doctrines of Salvation.

Hope that helps some. Some things we have to wait to find out but I am glad to know as much as we do from modern day prophets about what happens to little children who die.

Stephanie

Gwenevere said...

Thanks for your response. My intent would never be to unsettle the spirit you have clearly laid out in your posts. Your candor is refreshing. I would never want to spoil that. There is a reason I read here and for the record, I would never invite open debate against prophecy either.

Amber said...

I just wanted to add my two cents, even though there is nothing more to add to this beautiful post! As I was reading some of the comments I was thinking about how wonderful it is to know that we will see our loved ones after we die. While we don't know a whole lot of specifics, I feel that if we believe things like siblings will help in raising their brothers or sisters who were lost early in life, we should keep on believing it! Heavenly Father is the source of these things that give us hope. He gives us those feelings! He loves us! Even if it turns out that things aren't as we thought they would be, we will have a different perspective, and we will understand in a way our minds can't comprehend here on earth.

Thanks again, Stephanie. What an amazing thing you are doing!

Anonymous said...

For Jeanenne (and everyone),

I just wanted to say that because of Jeanenne's post for the first time since my brother died in 1980 (I had just turned 7 and he had just turned 5) I wondered what it would be like for ME during the millenium. I know my parents will have the opportunity to fully raise my brother, but I never wondered what it would be like for ME. I know I will see him again, and for me that is all that matters. Not to say, Jeanenne, that your son shouldn't wonder what it will be like and even feel cheated, but I have a strong feeling that once we pass from this life that EVERYTHING will be made OKAY. We will see our loved ones again and we will forget (maybe not forget, but we won't feel) the pain and greif anymore. The Gospel is perfect and it will all work out.

My brother was hit by a car in Dec. of 1980. This month he would have turned 28 years old. I miss him so much. We were best friends and I KNOW I will see him again...as I did the night he died when he appeared to me in spirit. He did not speak, but I think he wanted to let me know he was okay and he wanted his big sister (me) to know we'd be together again. Our loved ones are around us and I hope this can bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones and know that death is NOT the end.

I have posted anonymously because what I have just shared is so sacred to me that only my family and close friends know about it. I want to also share the rest of the story...what happened the night before he died as I hope it comforts someone.

The night before my brother died, we were playing in our room (we shared a room and bunk beds). I was told by the spirit that he was going to die. I remember saying to him something like "what would happen if you died". I know, a wierd question to ask someone, but I was 7 years old and it was like someone had whispered in my ear. I do not remember what he said, if anything. The next day he died. I KNOW it was the Lord's will and that has brought peace to me all these years. If he was meant to survive, I know he would have.

I hope what I have shared can help someone and know that the Lord does have a plan for each of us and because we live in this world, tradgey happens and we have to go through and experience the sting of death.
(Stephanie, sorry I didn't mean to write so much on your blog but I felt compelled to share..)

The Queen said...

thanks for this!