“Family History—I Am Doing It,” New Era, Oct. 2014, 12–14
Where to start? Maybe you think that your relatives have already done all the work there is to do. Or maybe you are new to family history and it seems overwhelming. Whether you start by keeping a personal journal, preparing names for the temple, or learning from your living relatives, you can participate in family history in fun and meaningful ways.
Keeping a journal is not easy. We often tell ourselves that we are too busy or too tired or that our lives aren’t exciting enough to write about. I realized a few years ago that journal-keeping wasn’t meant to be hard and that I could grow to love it.
I began by writing one thing a day. It didn’t matter if it was really long or exciting; I just wrote whatever was on my mind or whatever had happened that day. It has already blessed my life.
One day someone in my family was struggling and I wasn’t sure what to say to her, but then I was prompted to read her one of my journal entries. I was able to share a little piece of me that I had recorded in that little black journal, and I saw the way that it helped lighten her heart. (See lds.org/go/rememberNE10.)
I guarantee if you will start by writing one thing down a day, it will bless your life. No matter how small or how big, writing down the blessings in your life can help you to remember them.
Gentry W., Utah, USA
When I was baptized, I heard a lot about family history, but I didn’t know how to do it or if I could. I decided to pray about it, and I felt that I should start working on it right away. I felt that my ancestors were anxious for me to begin and that they would help me find the information necessary to do the ordinances.
I began by taking a family history course, and a short time later I was called to be a family history consultant. I was nervous because I didn’t know much about it, but I accepted the calling.
One day I visited my grandmother’s sister, who had documents about my great-grandmother. She didn’t want to share a lot of information because they had a tradition of not speaking about deceased relatives. She said the next day was the anniversary of my great-grandmother’s death, and she was going to burn the documents. I asked if I could get some information from them first, and she let me. I knew then that Heavenly Father would help me continue my research.
As I served in the family history center near the temple, I continued to discover more about my family. I learned that two of my great-grandmother’s grandparents were Italian immigrants who had a farm near São Paulo, Brazil. My family had lost contact with the relatives on the farm, but I found a cousin who was writing a book about the genealogy of our family. He gave me the book, which had taken him nine years to write. He said he didn’t know why he should write it but felt it would help someone in the future. I know that it was the spirit of Elijah inspiring him.
My experiences taught me that we are doing a sacred work. Our ancestors are waiting for our help and are at our side to help us.
Gabriel D., Brazil
I am a convert and the only Church member in my family. I’ve learned that one of the sacred ordinances is baptism for the dead. I went to the temple on a tour, and while listening to the host talk about the ordinances, I felt a still, small voice tell me to go to the family history center to submit a temple ordinance request for my mother, who had passed away. I was so happy when the FamilySearch account later confirmed that her temple work was done. It strengthened my testimony, and I know that one of the reasons why we are here on this earth is to help our ancestors receive the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Marvin S., Philippines
After graduating from high school, I felt impressed to visit all four of my grandparents. I had some free time, and I realized that I might not have this opportunity again, so I spent one week with each set of my grandparents.
I spent my time going through old boxes, reading old letters, and looking at old pictures. I recorded my grandparents’ life stories, walked around cemeteries, and visited where my grandparents and their relatives had lived and worked. It was fun! I learned so much about my ancestors, my grandparents, my parents, and myself. I realized that I wouldn’t have the life that I have if it weren’t for my ancestors.
After my trip, I came back with about 1,000 of my ancestors’ names and have been able to do the temple work for many of them. Following the promptings of the Holy Ghost and visiting with my grandparents was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Shenley P., California, USA
When I asked my dad for family history ideas in order to complete my Personal Progress, he explained that he had found some family names several years ago but had been unable to get the names ready to take to the temple on his own because of the demands on his time. My help could make it possible for these family members to receive temple blessings.
For the next few months, I spent Sunday afternoons and evenings entering names into the computer and learning family stories from my dad. We even ordered microfiche to find more information. Sometimes when it was difficult to read old films, I would say a silent prayer and then take paper out to trace the images. Out of obscurity, names appeared.
I eventually gathered a large collection of family names, and the youth in our ward helped complete the baptisms. My parents and other ward members then took the name cards to complete the other temple ordinances.
It seemed only a short time passed before I found myself preparing to go to the temple for my own endowment. I was excited but also nervous.
As we headed to the temple, my dad explained that he had found some of the family name cards I had prepared for my Personal Progress project. A few had been misplaced, so he brought the name cards for my mom, my fiancé, and him to finish. He shared with me their names, and I remembered them from my project.
As I made sacred covenants in the temple, I felt surrounded by loved ones on both sides of the veil. I felt a profound peace in knowing that I can be eternally united with my family.
Holly P., Idaho, USA