Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family History: I Am Doing It {here's why!}

It's late and I should be sleeping, but I can't stop thinking that I really need to share my experience with Family History.

You know how sometimes you know you should be doing something but you still just don't do it for some reason?  That was me with Family History.  I'd been hearing for years that we should be doing Family History.  Every time it came up in General Conference (and it seemed to come up quite a bit) I felt a little pull to do it.  I had every intention of doing it-- but never got around to actually following through.  My mother-in-law is an incredible Family History buff, and DJ and I had discussed that we needed to talk to her about how to get started... and yet we never actually did it.

When I moved to Brigham City in May, one of my first weeks in the new ward a sign up sheet was sent around in Relief Society for those willing to volunteer with helping the Youth learn about Family History for their Youth Conference in August.  I had no idea how to do it myself, but took the opportunity to sign up.  I pretty much forgot about it until I got a phone call in mid-June, telling me about my first training meeting at the Family History Library.  I went into it expecting to learn a little more about the system, but never really expecting to personally find results-- and that night I found my first family member waiting for their temple work to be completed.

I went home thrilled with what I had learned and immediately got to work.  Less than 24 hours later, DJ and I had performed proxy baptisms and confirmations for 6 members of my family!  Since that first day, I have found over 200 ordinances that needed to be completed.  With the help of my family and ward members, I've been able to do a lot of the work, and it has been incredible!

I've learned that I go about Family History a little differently than most people.  Rather than just looking for "green arrows" which indicate temple work needs to be done, I look for family relationships that are not currently in Family Search.  So if I see that a family has a son or daughter that lived to adulthood but has no family of their own listed, I look for documentation to see if they were actually ever married and had kids.  The majority of the people I've found have been through this method.  I can't explain the absolute thrill it is to find family members of people already in the system and know that I can help them be together forever!

My main excuses for not doing temple work used to be that I was too busy and that all my Family History had already been completed.  I want to address those two issues just in case anyone else has ever felt that way!

First, the excuse of being too busy.  Yes, I am busy.  You are busy.  Part of life is being busy.  We are not suddenly going to get more time in our day, and so we have to make time for things that are really important to us.  I can tell you that doing things that our Heavenly Father wants us to do will make us feel happier and more fulfilled.  It will take time-- but it is time that is invested rather than spent.

Next, the idea that you don't have any Family History work left to do.  That's simply not true.  I don't believe anyone has a complete family history where all the temple ordinances are completed.  With the new training the Church has brought to us about "Finding our Cousins,"  I can't imagine the time when this work will actually be completed.  I have yet to go on Family Search and look for people to do temple work for and not find any.  There is SO MUCH to do!  That means there are so many people who are waiting to be found.  When you think of Family History work in terms of people rather than names to be found, it begins to take on a different meaning.

I just want to share a couple experiences I've had while doing Family History.  The first experience I want to share actually happened today.  I was looking for the maiden name of someone, and so I searched for documents for her husband, hoping I would find a marriage license or something else that would give me hints to what her maiden name was.  In my search, I came across her husband's World War I draft card.  I had never looked at one before, but today I took the time to.  Here it is:

From these images, I learned that Leslie Lemmer was a tall man of medium build with brown hair and brown eyes.  At first I just laughed about the fact that instead of listing an exact height and weight the choices were "Tall, Medium, Short," and, "Slender, Medium, Stout."  Because really-- that's funny.  But the more I thought about it, the cooler it became.  This man-- my cousin-- is more real to me now.  Not only do I know his name and birthplace, I have an idea of what he looked like!  I'm so grateful for technology and for those who have done indexing (which--side note-- I have not done yet!) so that I am able to find such awesome information to connect me to my family!

When I was at the Ogden Temple Re-dedication, Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Young Women General President, said something that really struck me, and has stuck with me ever since.  She said that when we do temple work, the people who we are doing work for have not had their names spoken on this earth for years.  During the course of their temple work, their names are spoken aloud many times-- what a joy that must be for them!  Now whenever I go to the temple I think of these women that I'm doing work for and I'm happy to be able to have them hear their names in such a sacred setting.

The last thing I want to share is the coolest to me, and pretty personal.  The evening I went to my Family History training I prayed before going to bed that I could continue to find people whose work needed to be done. The next morning, I found an entire family that needed their temple ordinances done-- a dad, a mom, a son and a daughter.  I took the mom and daughter's names to the temple that day, and did the baptisms and confirmations for them.  As I was getting baptized for the daughter, I felt the Spirit so strongly.  Then, when I was being confirmed for her I felt the Spirit again, just as strongly.  I realized that I knew her.  I had never heard her name {Isabel} before in this life, I had never even realized she existed until that day, and yet I knew that I knew her.  I had the same feeling very strongly as I performed her initiatory and endowment in the temple.  When I went with DJ to seal her parents together and then her to her parents, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I had felt the Spirit so strongly all the other times, and I didn't want to be disappointed if I didn't feel it this time.  I wasn't disappointed-- it was just as strong as before.  I was able to feel her happiness, knowing that she was sealed to her family and all her temple work was complete.  I feel such a connection to this girl.  I do know that I know her.  It's going to be amazing when we meet each other again!  I have not had this experience with anyone else I've found while doing Family History, but every time I take family names to the temple I feel the Spirit and feel so happy to help them!

Getting involved in Family History work has blessed my life in ways I never imagined.  I didn't go into it expecting too much-- and I have been blown away.  I KNOW that anyone who is willing to do Family History will be blessed.  You'll have incredible experiences, because the work you are doing is incredible.  Every time I go to the temple I am so happy knowing that I am helping these people receive ordinances that they didn't have the opportunity to receive themselves on earth. And that these aren't just any people-- they're my family.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've always felt the same way -- I have this draw to and interest in family history, but I just haven't taken the time to learn how to do it. I really, really need to change that. I know that there are lots of people waiting for me to get that motivation to learn and get their work going. It sounds like you have had extremely positive and amazing experiences so far -- i look forward to experiencing similar joy in helping my ancestors!