My grandma asked me if I would come to her ward and talk to all of the youth about my experiences with family history work and the blessings that come from it. And so, of course, I agreed to talk and it was really actually quite beneficial to get all of my thoughts together to do so! I decided that I might as well share some things on my blog too, because I truly do want to advocate the importance of this necessary work.
So at the beginning of the year, I had no idea how to even get started with family history. In fact, it was one of my New Year's goals to actually learn how to start. I knew it was something I needed to get into, as I was constantly bombarded with hints. The wonderful Elder Rosenbalm kept telling me he felt strongly that family history work would bring my whole family closer to God, and I kept coming across conference talks about family history work that really made an impact. I decided to make it a goal to start with my family history work once SkillsUSA state was over, which as you know is this week.
Of course, the Lord had a quicker and obviously much better plan. A couple of months ago, I was called as my ward's family history specialist! The calling confirmed my thoughts on how I need to get started with family history work, and I was relieved that the Lord provided a way for me to learn. I went to a series of training classes and was taught by people in my ward how to use Family Search to its fullest extent (though I'm still far from being a pro!)
As I knew they would, my teachers told me that the most important thing I could do before I start teaching was fill out my own family tree. You see, my mom's side of the family was seemingly complete as a result of many old ladies who like genealogy. But my dad's side of the family aren't members, so not a single one of them is in the system, and neither are any of their ancestors. So, once I learned the basics of Family Search (which is actually really easy) I went up to my dad's parent's house where they helped me fill out a couple generations of history. It was really exciting for all of us, to get so many names accounted for, and I'm going to go back up soon to teach and learn some more!
While at my grandparent's, I asked for their permission to do lots of the family's temple work because permission is required if the person has died relatively recently. Permission was granted, and for the first time ever I had family names to take to the temple. Seiji, Kylie, and my mom came with me to complete the names, and it was an amazing experience! I could feel the presence of all the people on the other side of the veil I have served, and I could feel their love and gratitude.
My testimony has grown so much over the course of learning how to do family history work and directly applying it in my life. In my planner I have written down some of the blessings of family history work so that I'll remember how beneficial it is to make time to sit down and work regularly. Here are just a few of the things I've written:
Richard G Scott says that family history work "eliminates the influence of the adversary in your life."
David A Bednar says that, "you will be safeguarded in your youth and through your lives." He also says that, "your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding."
This one is my favorite. Boyd K Packer says that, "whoever seeks to help those on the other side receives help in return in all the affairs of life." Those who we serve by doing family history work are extremely grateful to us, because the work is not something they can do themselves. I have noticed the extra support and extra blessings in my life that I know I owe to people on the other side.
I think it is important for people to realize that there is ALWAYS more work to do, even if it seems like all of the work has been done on both sides of your family. There's always duplicates to merge, sources to attach, names to index, and kids who aren't accounted for. Henry B Eyring says that "you will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them." Meaning the people who may not be in the system yet. You will be blessed by doing everything that you can to serve those on the other side, even if it doesn't seem like you can do much.
I testify of the importance of family history work. It has blessed my life in more ways than I'll know in this life. I know that there are countless people that are waiting on each of us, urging us along to find them and to save them. Our prophet said "As our Savior gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for us, so we, in some small measure, do the same when we perform proxy work in the temple for those who have no means of moving forward unless something is done for them by those of us here on the earth."
Family history work is something that each of us need to be a part of, for the sake of ourselves and for those who came before. I hope you consider getting started with some family history work of your own. It may seem overwhelming, but it is actually not. And if you need help, just call me!