Every Friday afternoon, like clockwork, six or seven youth, accompanied by their grandfather, tumble out of a black suburban in the parking lot of the Bountiful Utah Temple and make their way inside to the baptismal area.
“It’s kind of funny because the ordinance workers know [when] we usually arrive,” said Tom Miner, the grandfather whose weekly tradition with his grandchildren has become a small-scale phenomenon at the Bountiful temple.
For the past six years, Tom Miner has taken his grandkids who live near him in the Bountiful area and who are of age to participate, to perform baptisms following their early release from school nearly every Friday afternoon.
And after their temple work is finished, they head to the temple cafeteria for mashed potatoes and pie.
“We kind of have a reputation in the temple for eating a lot of mashed potatoes and gravy,” Tom Miner said laughing and giving the side eye to his grandkids who sat down with him for a recent interview with the Church News. “Everybody that works there kind of knows the group now because we’ve been doing it for years, and well, we go through a lot of mashed potatoes and gravy.”
While the family jokes about their reputation, it is clear to see the happiness they get from their tradition and, according to Tom Miner and his wife, Carol Miner, the blessings for their family are what really motivates them to do it.
Tom Miner, as the one who takes the grandkids to the temple and sits with them as they go through the baptisms and confirmations explained the system they have. “We usually do about five names per kid each week,” Tom Miner said. And if the temple workers ever ask if they want to do more names, Tom Miner said his response is always the same.
“No,” he will say. “We’re here for the living. So we’ll be back next week and we’ll do five more.”
Tom Miner explained that while they obviously do temple work for the benefit of their ancestors, his purpose in taking his grandkids is to be there with them in the temple and help them build a love and understanding of the importance of the House of the Lord.
“We wanted them to feel the peace and the power and the protection and the perspective and all those things the temple gives us,” Carol Miner said. “We wanted our grandchildren to have that, because life is rocky. There are rough seas, and they’re going to have challenges and ups and downs and as grandparents what can you do? And that was one of the thoughts that came, was if we can get them to the temple, they’ll be able to feel the Spirit, and that’s where they’ll want to be. And that’s proved to be the case.”
But their dedication doesn’t come in just the form of regular attendance, but also in the form of the family history work they are performing.
“We always do family names,” Carol Miner said. She and her daughter Deborah Hoge, whose children go with their grandfather each Friday, explained how each child will work to find names to take to the temple with them each week. And as they head into the seventh year, they estimate they have completed somewhere around 7,000 family names since they started the Friday tradition.
Once the kids have completed the baptismal work, they turn the family names over to their parents and grandparents to complete the other ordinances.
“It’s kind of fun because we’re all in different stages,” Hoge said. “The kids are really good at finding names.”
But with the kids going weekly, Hoge admitted that there is sometimes a build-up of names when it comes to completing endowments.
“We can’t keep up with them,” Carol Miner said.
The tradition has brought the whole family together and has instilled a love for the temple in each of the Miners’ children and grandchildren. Hoge explained that even when they are on vacation, the children will often ask to visit the temple if there is one nearby.
The example of their grandparents has taught the grandchildren to sacrifice to be at the temple, Hoge added, noting that the kids will often miss other activities with friends in order to attend the temple on Friday afternoons.
“It’s always their choice, and they choose to go,” Hoge said. “They keep doing it because, even if they can’t put it into words, I think it must be impacting them.”
And according to the children, it has changed the way they understand the purpose of the temple and has given them a greater desire to be there often.
“At first it was just about getting to see my cousins and seeing how fast we could get through it,” said Elizabeth Hoge, one of the Miner’s grandchildren. “But the more we kept going, it became more of a special experience. You can definitely feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s love for you there … you can feel what they think your potential is.”
And although it didn’t start off as anything more than a way to teach their own grandchildren how to love the temple, Tom and Carol Miner realize now that they are setting an example that goes beyond their own posterity.
“A couple weeks ago, one of the workers told Tom he had taken his grandchildren to the temple too,” Carol Miner said.
And for Hoge, her parents’ example is just one of the ways people can get creative with family history work.
“There are probably grandparents and parents out there thinking there’s nothing they can do,” she said. “Well, they can drive their grandkids to the temple, and even if they can’t go in, maybe they can just get them there. We can think outside the box.”