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 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.