My family history mind-set has really changed over the years, right along with the growth and amazing changes we see almost daily with the Lord’s family history website FamilySearch.org.
Family History Research 50 Years Ago
When I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the mid 1970’s, the primary genealogical program for members was: “Each adult member of the Church is to document (not just copy) a family group record form for each family in the first four generations of his ancestry” (“What Is the Four-generation Program,” Ensign, Mar. 1972). I really felt the importance of doing this research, but I didn’t know how to approach such an invitation.
Because my husband, Earl, and I lived in remote locations in Canada, accessing family history information was extremely difficult. Earl encouraged me to write a number of letters to genealogists. We chose a sister residing in Salt Lake City. My marching orders to the genealogist were to compile four generations for both of our family lines.
Uniting Eternal Family Ties
Everything came by mail back then. We opened our very first brown envelope with much excitement. It was crammed with papers showing our family names, certificates, and family history stories. The spirit of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6) touched our very souls. We felt very close to those waiting for their temple ordinances to be completed.
We immediately picked up the phone and called our genealogist. We told her, “Keep going until further notice. We love it.” Indeed, she kept researching our family names for about eleven years. Without her help, we would never have had the joy of getting to know and love many of our ancestors and complete sacred ordinances and covenants for them in the temple. Had we not begun the four-generation program, family members on both sides of the veil would have missed out on the sacred experiences of doing temple and family history work.
New Adventures with Computers
Computers coming into our homes literally changed everything. We have moved along with the different FamilySearch initiatives, loving every step of new family research adventures.
My husband now suffers from Parkinson’s disease and he is unable to do family history research. So, after he goes to bed, I head straight for the computer, working very late into the night. The next morning, I report what I have found to Earl, and he rejoices and offers his advice for further actions.
Praying for the Missing One
Since beginning our temple and family history work, I have always prayed to find any names that we may have missed. Often family ordinances appear to be completely done, but I always check down to the last child. Sometimes I see a bright green indicator showing that an ordinance needs to be completed. On one occasion, I showed Earl a missing child in his family. We were both astonished and grateful to submit that unaccounted name to the temple.
In my journal for family history, I record in “green” special experiences where temple work is ready to be done. It makes me feel so good to see the green color throughout my journal. I have found names back to the 1500’s; those individuals have been waiting such a long time. I feel their presence and know the hand of the Lord is in this great work.
Increasing Our Capabilities to Serve in Temples
A few years ago, Darren, our son, married Brenda who is from the Dominican Republic. She and her mother, Candida, faithfully go to the temple doing family history ordinances. When she is not visiting family, Candida takes the bus once a month to the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple to do ordinances for both of our families.
Last year, I wondered and prayed, “What more can I do?” The Lord answered. I called my son, Darren, and asked if he would like to help me do baptisms for the dead. He instantly said, “Yes.” Since then, we have been trying to complete numerous baptisms and confirmations for our deceased family as fast as possible.
Spending time in the temple has allowed all of us to share many spiritual experiences together. Earl also continues to play a vital role by reviewing all that we have accomplished. These are marvellous experiences for our family. This has brought our two families together as one and overcome any language barrier or disability!
In 1975, Elder Neal A Maxwell counselled, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability” (“It’s Service, Not Status, That Counts,” Ensign, July 1975). God has definitely increased our family’s capabilities to be actively involved in temple and family history work.
At the April 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson concluded with these words: “I bless you to identify those things you can set aside so you can spend more time in the temple. I bless you with greater harmony and love in your homes and a deeper desire to care for your eternal family relationships. I bless you with increased faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a greater ability to follow Him as His true disciples. I bless you to raise your voice in testimony, as I do now, that we are engaged in the work of Almighty God!” (“Let Us All Press On,” Ensign, May 2018)