There's a dead man in my cell phone.
A couple years ago, a friend/acquaintance in his 50's passed away. He was a paraplegic due to an accident, and had been in a motorized wheelchair since before I met him. I knew him through a social club to which we both belonged.
He didn't have any local relatives, and perhaps he didn't have any living close relatives. He had never married or had children as far as I knew.
I hadn't seen him at the club meetings for a while. I had heard he was in and out of the hospital, but never got around to visiting him. It wasn't until he was near the end of his life that I was told how bad his condition was, so I went to see him. But at that point he was non-responsive. His eyes were open, and he was hooked up to machines in intensive care, but you couldn't tell if he heard or understood.
When I upgraded my cell phone, and moved the entries over to the new one, I decided to keep his name and number in it, just to remember him by.
Isn't that what all of us desire, if we were to think about it, that people remember us after we're gone? Isn't that somehow related to genealogy and temple work? To turn the hearts of the fathers and children towards each other?
What lasting contributions do we make? What legacy do those who remain childless leave behind? Who remembers them?
I think temple work and missionary work can create such a legacy as much as raising up a family. Of course it's different. But it also creates eternal connections and remembrance. It makes a difference.
This project is part of my legacy. I'm childless and will be so unless/until I marry someone who already has children. (Hopefully they'll be grown and moved out when I get married.) But I hope that at least some of the connections that I make with the people to whom I give gospel material will endure. Even if they only remember me as the American guy who spoke a few words of Wolof to them at their gas station, or the guy who gave them a blue book in their language.
I have a picture in my mind of a Chinese-American young man going to China on a mission when China opens up to missionary work. When his investigators ask him how he became a Mormon, I envision him telling them that it started when some guy who ate at his parents' restaurant gave them a Book of Mormon in Chinese.
I have a picture in my mind of someone from Africa, going back to visit their home country, taking with them a Book of Mormon or Gospel Fundamentals in their language, and showing it to their relatives, and saying "Look what someone gave me in America."