What Inspires You to Do Family History?

[ 7 ] Comments

by Emily

It’s been a while since General Conference. We’ve been looking back at addresses that touched us. We hope you enjoy this short series on the talks.

 “He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.” Doctrine & Covenants 2:2

Family_Tree_imgRecently I taught our Relief Society Lesson on Elder Scott’s Conference address entitled, The Joy of Redeeming the Dead.  Now I’m a pretty big history fan, but finding names and dates of people to take the temple still sounds just so, well, tedious.  And if I feel that way, I’m certain others do, too.

In preparing for the lesson, I wanted to connect with people who have caught the family history bug, share their stories, and spread their excitement to the class.  I made several phone calls the week prior to the lesson and found three things that get people into family history:

1. They have a positive experience doing it.
2. It’s a puzzle; puzzles are fun!
3. We have been asked to do it; we are obedient.

Positive Experiences
One sister shared how she had visited some extended family years ago, then shortly after returning home, one of her uncles passed away.  A year or so later she couldn’t get him out of her mind and realized she needed to do his temple work.  She got everything in order, but when it came time to do the ordinances, the computer to record the sealing at the temple wasn’t working.  They decided to try anyway, and miraculously, the computer did work just for them!  This woman said that she learned that the people who have passed on before us want their work done so badly that they will do anything to influence the situation.

Another woman took a ward family history class and then felt ready to take on some family history challenges.  There had been an infant death as well as some adoptions in the family, and after three years of difficult research, she not only was able to figure out the answers to the original questions, but had also found 20-30 people along the way who also needed temple work done!  As she researched, she felt like she was “in their time,” “living with them,” and began to “think like they think.”  She was so happy to have made a difference in their lives.

My dad enjoys doing puzzles, and he sees family history as a giant puzzle.  He gets some temporal satisfaction out of his research, then when he finds someone who needs temple work done, feels that wonderful spiritual confirmation that he’s made a difference in someone’s life.

In Relief Society, one grandma shared how her mother looked at family history also like a puzzle.  She sensed an urgency to get the temple work done for a certain person, and never gave up until she found what she was looking for.  After 30 years of searching, she found the information she needed in a book full of additional ancestors who also needed their temple work done!

When I talked to my mom, she said one reason she does family history is because we’ve been asked to.  “We do it because we should.”  She’s the one with the Scandinavian lines that can be discouraging to research, so she is diligent in doing her best.   Even if we start out doing family history because we are obedient, eventually that leads to putting some puzzle pieces together, which leads to positive experiences, then we want to do it again.

As I studied Elijah and interpreted his responsibility as presiding over family history and temple work, I sensed that the veil between this life and the next is thin and want to be a part of it.  When I hear what inspires others to do family history, I also get excited to help find and save the souls who have passed on to the next life.

“This work is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil, where help is given in both directions.”

What inspires YOU to do family history?

Image credits: about.com, lds.org

About Emily

I'm a busy mom of 4 living in Utah and have been married for 14 years. I went to Ricks & BYU and have a BS in Health Science and minors in History and International Development. I did my student teaching in Western Samoa. If I ever have time, I enjoy blogging and sewing (especially re-enactment sewing), but usually I'm just trying to make time to exercise and clean the house. I hope to someday remodel and get more into historical research.

7 Responses to What Inspires You to Do Family History?

  1. Liz C says:

    I’m all about the context. My mom tends to be the one who gathers the names, dates, and places, but then it’s my fun to put them into context with history, work out they whys and wherefores, and make it live. I love the past, and finding out my family’s place in it is really cool.

  2. Angie says:

    The stories are what gets me hooked. I was blessed with a grandmother who has spent her life connecting the branches of our family tree. Her bedtime stories were always family stories. Because of her, I know about my ancestors in the Martin and Willie Handcart companies, about the conversion stories in far off lands. Because she sparked in me the same interest, I tell those stories to my children, I collect the ones from my husband’s family and share those too. Knowing our stories seems to give us a better sense of who we are and where we came from.

  3. MSKeller says:

    My mother has and is putting together a book that contains stories about our ancestors. It has a page of the ‘facts’ but then it is a story about them, not always the ones you’ve always heard. It is wonderful and makes them real. She titles it, “To know them is to Love them”. She did one of her side and now is doing one on my dad’s side four generations back. So what inspires me, is loving them. Knowing who they were as people with flaws, preferences, specific characteristics and stories.

    We just had a weekend of ‘us girls’ nieces, granddaughters ect and we each took a person and did their page. It was a lot of fun.

    Love and sometimes duty is what motivate me.

  4. Ramona Gordy says:

    My husband and I are both converts and adult orphans. We have brothers and sisters and “family”, but we are a “scattered” people. We seem to be the keeper of the memories. When I was baptized 5 years ago, I was intrigued by this so I attempted to start a family tree. It was difficult because I realize now that I did not have a full understanding of what “The Spirit of Eliajah was. For almost 2 years I was able to only do the work for my parents and my husbands parents. Shortly thereafter I was able to do the work for our immediate grandparents. Then nothing, the info came in drips, and this is where I had to really rely on the Holy Spirit to bring all things to my rememberence. One day I had a break through, my husbands mothers name was spelled wrong, who knew? On Ancestry.com, there was a little leaf waving at me,so I clicked and there she was, her name spelled different, and she was on a census, that had the names of her mom and dad and siblings. It was like she literally opened the door and invited me in. Since that time, her family line has exploded and so has my husband’s father’s line. We have been doing a lot of work. It’s a little quieter on my side, I wonder if they are waiting to be found. I know they will come around soon.

  5. Bonnie says:

    For me, it’s the opportunity to work with someone else who is passionate. My Mom has been the driver, and she has been a great organizer. My Dad was the storyteller. I have to say, record those storytellers. You can’t tell it the way they can, and then they’re gone.

  6. Bernard says:

    Something that caught my imagination when I first started with my family history was visiting the churches where a christening, marriage or burial took place. The family story was that my maternal grandfather was the only son, of an only son. While visiting the church that my grandfather married in I spoke with the minister who told me of an elderly lady with the same surname as my grandfather who had lived all her life in the parish and never married ‘it’s the same name and she may have heard of them’ he said. You cannot imagine how much excitement there was when I met this lady who told me she remembered my grandfather, that she sat next to him in Sunday School and that they were cousins. Her father had died during the first world war and by default my grandfather became the only son of an only son. I gathered as much information as I could from this distant cousin to ensure that my great-grandfather could be reunited in the spirit world with his sons and family.

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