Watch this short video about the 2020 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, which includes a personal invitation from Elder David A. Bednar.
Kevin S. Hamilton
Executive Director of the Family History Department
Brothers and sisters, the theme for this meeting is Ministering to All through Temple and Family History. In this context, “all” means literally all of our Heavenly Father’s children: active and less active members of the Church, children, youth, young single adults, and even those not of our faith. “All” means literally all.
Temple and family history can help us do that. The spirit of this work, what we sometimes refer to as the spirit of Elijah, is moving across the earth at an unprecedented rate with many—both Church members and the general public—feeling a deep desire to connect with their families. As we celebrate this bicentennial year of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, we remember that this all began when Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823 and told him that Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, would return to the earth and would plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and that the hearts of the children would turn to their fathers.
In 1836 in the Kirtland Temple, Elijah did in fact appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This inaugurated the long-promised turning of the hearts of the children to their parents, grandparents, and cousins. We see this today across the entire face of the earth. Across all ethnicities, races, ages, and faiths. The spirit that comes as hearts begin to turn is often called the spirit of Elijah.
But in reality, President Russell M. Nelson has taught that it is actually the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. This softening of hearts, this interest in family, is very predictable and replicable. It almost always happens. When we begin to think about, talk about, or research anything to do with our ancestors, there is a spirit that comes. A spirit that testifies that we are children of God, and heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
We suggest tonight that we should be able to tap into this spiritual power and use it to help our Heavenly Father with His work of salvation and exaltation. After all, it is His spirit, and it is likewise His work. President Nelson has taught that the gathering of scattered Israel is “the greatest work on earth” and that “anytime you do anything that helps anyone on either side of the veil take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”
As we minister to all with temple and family history, the spirit of the Holy Ghost will help them to return to or stay on or enter into the covenant pathway that leads to salvation and exaltation. If we can borrow from the metaphor that a rising tide lifts all boats, then the rising tide of temple and family history should be able to float many other boats that make up the fleet of the work of salvation and exaltation: Youth and children boats. Young single adult boats. Less-active member boats. Active Latter-day Saint family boats. Even the boats of those who are not of our faith.
I would like to introduce you by means of a very short video to the Ebert family. They are striving to gather Israel in simple but effective ways using temple and family history.
Kristen: I’m Kristen. I’m married to Mark. We have six children.
Mark: All right, Jason. We’re on to the last child of James Arline.
Jason: My name is Jason Mod Arline.
Michael: My name is Michael.
Courtney: I am Courtney Ebert.
Courtney: I think she needs something.
Mark: She needs something.
Mark: It’s great that my children have let out with this. They were the ones enthusiastic. And when your kids are excited about something, you have to jump in.
Kristen: The kids had had great success in finding their cousins, but I wanted to be part of this family history work too. So one day as I was thinking about the children and their great work, I actually had a thought that I should call Sister Rice.
Mark: Hey, guys. Sister Rice is here.
Jason: Sister Rice?
Michael: Sister Rice was an old friend of ours.
Sister Rice: Hi, sweetie! Hi!
Courtney: She’s just the sweetest person in the world.
Sister Rice: Oh, you got lipstick on you, David. Oh, my gosh. Okay.
Michael: We invited Sister Rice to do family history because we knew that that could bless her life.
Sister Rice: Sister Ebert sent me a My Family book to find my ancestors. To write their names down. Photos, stories, great-aunts and uncles, and great-grandparents.
Courtney: I am going to help Sister Rice to find her cousins by showing her how to get all those names into a computer.
Sister Rice: Okay, Courtney. That’s my grandmother on my dad’s side.
Sister Rice: Miss Ethel. And because I didn’t grow up knowing them, I called her Miss Ethel and my grandfather Mister Tom.
Courtney: And what was the year of her birth?
Sister Rice: 1904.
Sister Rice: And Courtney was able to connect them in the family tree, and it leads to so many branches. I have found my great-great-grandfather who I didn’t even know his name. I have found him.
Courtney: See the green arrow?
Sister Rice: Yes.
Courtney: If you scroll over that, it says Request Ordinances.
Sister Rice: Okay.
Courtney: And then print.
Sister Rice: This is so cool.
Kristen: Between the two of us, I felt like I was doing family history work. Even though it wasn’t on my own family, I kind of felt like I was helping my cousins.
Courtney: Even if you feel like there are no names possible, there’s always going to be something out there to do and someone to get work done for them.
Michael: We’re going to go to the temple, and I’m going to get to do her names, and that’s going to be a lot of fun too. Doing the baptisms for Sister Rice’s family was a great opportunity, and there’s such a great spirit. And I’m so glad I got to do it.
Sister Rice: I found my great-grandfather’s name, and I was able to do a baptismal for him—through someone else, but it was done anyway. And I never knew him. I never know his name. And it’s just amazing. And I’m glad. I’m truly glad.
Michael: I knew what a big deal this was to Sister Rice. And to know how great she felt about it was a big thing to me.
Brothers and sisters, think about what you just learned from the Ebert family. Who were they ministering to? What were Sister Rice’s needs? And how did temple and family history help her along the covenant path? Did you notice that they used the My Family booklet, which requires absolutely no technology? They also used FamilySearch on a computer to prepare her family names for the temple.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would suggest to you that this is what success looks like when we use temple and family history to help gather scattered Israel. Tonight, we will hear from Apostles and other General Authorities and general Church Officers with specific ideas on how to use temple and family history to minister to all. We will demonstrate practical and actionable ideas, some using technology, some using no technology, that will help us in our responsibilities to minister and to lead our ward and branch efforts in ministering to all.
Our prayer is that you will leave here tonight with one or two ideas that make you say, “I can do that.” Just one or two practical tools that you can use to help minister to our Heavenly Father’s children through the use of temple and family history. I testify that the Spirit comes as we turn our hearts, and the spirit of Elijah, or the Holy Ghost, is real and true. I testify that we can in fact minister to all using temple and family history. God is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Dale G. Renlund
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
What a blessing it is to gather together. Thank you for being here. We’ll discuss how we as leaders can minister to all of God’s children one by one through temple and family history. In our home-centered, Church-supported approach, first and foremost, we as leaders need to personally participate in the work of salvation and exaltation in our own homes, with our own family and friends.
As we do so, we develop firsthand knowledge and confidence in discovering, gathering, and connecting our own family members. We develop empathy and receive revelation like Sister Ebert did to reach out and minister to others. And we have the confidence and faith to help them.
Last year in this temple and family history leadership instruction, we suggested some ways to organize the work. Today, I’ll clarify the role of the ward temple and family history leader and how his primary responsibility is to help the leaders and presidencies minister to the “Sister Rices” of their ward. In doing so, he coordinates the work of ward temple and family history consultants.
We presented a standard and preferred leadership pattern of how to organize the work with three alternative patterns for smaller wards and branches. The standard pattern includes the ward council, creating a ward temple and family history plan. The ward plan synthesizes and synergizes plans developed in each ward organization.
The ward plan is simple and home centered. It focuses on ministering to the unique needs of individual members and families, especially to young people and newly baptized members who are preparing for their first temple and family history experience. The Relief Society presidency and the elders quorum presidency direct the work within their organizations and focus on the needs of each individual by working hand in hand with the Young Women, Primary, Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies. Thus, the responsibilities and opportunities reside with the presidencies of the quorums and organizations of the ward.
The ward temple and family history leader is primarily a helper and a coordinator who serves the presidencies upon request and by assignment, and does so by coordinating the efforts with the presidencies, and enlists the help of the ward temple and family history consultants. As the Savior taught, the ward temple and family history leader, like all leaders, is ultimately a servant of all. Once again, the ward temple and family history leader and the consultants help and serve the quorum and organizational presidencies of the ward.
Let me demonstrate how this works, and I’m going to enlist Elder Shayne Bowen to join me here. And Elder Bowen, if you’ll have a seat here.
Elder Bowen: Thank you.
Elder Renlund: And go ahead and cross your legs.
Elder Renlund: Yeah, that’s good. Now, Elder Bowen represents the ward temple and family history leader. And I used to know how to use this thing.
Elder Renlund: One of the most predictable things in a healthy human being is the patella reflex. Now, not only is Elder Bowen tall, dark, and handsome, you also look very healthy. Are you healthy?
Elder Bowen: I’m healthy.
Elder Renlund: Okay. The other thing about a healthy and fit ward temple and family history consultant is another reflex, and that’s what he says when you present him a concern. So I’m going to demonstrate this. I’m going to tap below his kneecap and we’re going to see this predictable reaction. And we’re going to present him a concern and see what his reflex is.
Elder Bowen: Is this going to hurt?
Elder Renlund: It’s not going to hurt me at all.
Elder Renlund: Not to worry.
Elder Bowen: Okay.
Elder Renlund: Elder Bowen, we’re thinking about using family history to reach out to our less active members in the ward.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: Both reflexes. This is excellent. Let’s do this again. Elder Bowen, we’re anxious to get our newly baptized members to the temple within 60 days of their baptism.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: Now, this is so fun.
Elder Renlund: Sister Jones, would you come up here?
Elder Renlund: Here’s your very own hammer.
Sister Jones: Thank you.
Elder Renlund: And have a seat.
Sister Jones: All right.
Elder Renlund: And let’s have you pretend to be, oh, I don’t know, maybe a ward Primary president. Okay, we’ll do that. Go ahead.
Sister Jones: Elder Bowen, we’re trying to come up with an idea for a Primary activity for boys and girls.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: Well done.
Sister Jones: It worked!
Elder Renlund: Yeah. Now we’re going to have Elder Vincent, and Elder Vincent gets his own hammer. And let’s have him pretend to be the first counselor in a ward bishopric. Have a seat. And let’s see if both of these reflexes, the patellar and the typical healthy ward temple and family history reflex response, works.
Elder Vincent: Elder Bowen, we are trying to help the teachers in our ward to righteously use technology instead of spending so much time playing games.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: Well done. Okay. It didn’t hurt too much. Now Sister Aburto, here’s your hammer. Be careful with the chair.
Sister Aburto: Okay.
Elder Renlund: Be careful with Elder Bowen.
Sister Aburto: Okay. [Laughing]
Elder Renlund: Let’s pretend you’re, oh, I don’t know, a ward Relief Society president.
Sister Aburto: That will work. Elder Bowen, as a Relief Society president, I am concerned about mothers with young children who feel overwhelmed because of the extra time on Sundays.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: Well done. This is good. Now let’s bring a couple of others. I need some more helpers. He’s not yet worn out. And I’ll ask Aubrey and Tucker. Why don’t you come here and join me? And you get that. Just a sec. And you get that, Aubrey. So why don’t you go ahead and have a seat now, and then present your concern, and see how his reflexes are doing.
Tucker: Well, I’m a priests quorum assistant, and the young men really need an activity that doesn’t require a rake.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: That was excellent. Excellent.
Elder Bowen: Hi.
Aubrey: I’m my Young Women’s class president, and I have a young woman in my class that struggles with anxiety and depression.
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: That’s great. Thank you. Well done. Wait a minute, where’d Tucker go? He left? Aubrey, come here. Tucker, come here. Good job.
Elder Renlund: Thank you. Good. Stay down. You’re not done.
Elder Renlund: So you know, we’ve abused him, so why don’t we do this. Here’s a hammer. Why don’t you demonstrate both of these reflexes on yourself?
Elder Bowen: How can I help?
Elder Renlund: See?
Elder Renlund: Thanks. Brothers and sisters, can you use a metaphorical reflex hammer and go hit your ward temple and family history leader with that metaphor—it’s metaphorical, Okay?—while telling him your challenge. Can you do that? What I need you to say is, “I can do that.”
Audience: I can do that.
Elder Renlund: Okay, that was pretty good. One more time.
Audience: (Louder) I can do that.
Elder Renlund: Excellent. He serves. He helps. He coordinates. He mobilizes resources for you to execute that portion of the ward plan that pertains to all in your organization. He’s under your direction. He can facilitate ministering to all. As you use him and the ward temple and family history consultants, you’re gathering Israel on both sides of the veil. You’ll be blessed. And you’ll help others be eternally blessed. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto
Of the Relief Society General Presidency
Elder Renlund taught in the 2018 leadership instruction session on those new and tender in the gospel. He said, “Those who are new and tender in the gospel include youth turning 12 and new converts. As they are focused on temple and family history, more will remain active; more will remain protected when storms and fierce winds strike.”
How do we help those new and tender become focused on temple and family history work? We help by using the tools the Lord has given us to invite others to learn their own family story, and then bring the names of their ancestors to the temple.
I would like you to meet Julie and Nicholas. Julie is a 16-year-old young woman, and Nicholas is a 10-year-old young man. These two Saints are going to help me learn something about the gathering of Israel. Julie and Nicholas, thank you for joining us tonight. Are you ready to teach me?
Sister Aburto: Good.
Nicholas: We have a short video clip that shows how new members are blessed by getting focused on temple and family history.
Julie: Sister Aburto, as we watch this short video clip, I want you to look for two things. First, examples of how a ward family ministers to a newly baptized family through temple and family history. And second, any blessings you feel they receive through doing this work. Are you ready?
Sister Aburto: Yes, I’m excited to learn from you.
Chris: We’ve been members for about three weeks now, and tomorrow we’ll go to the temple for the very first time.
[Narrator]: Chris was thrilled to get onto FamilySearch and began to discover his ancestors.
Chris: To be able to do this, I just feel that I’m going to be able to reconnect with my ancestors in a way that I would have otherwise not done so.
Chris’s Wife: Actually searching for them to be able to baptize them—it really brings it all together.
Chris: Going with us to the temple will be many members of our ward.
Chris’s Wife: And they’re very excited too.
Bishop Barnes: For me to witness that and to see Chris feel that spirit and feel that connection—I mean, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the baptismal area.
Melissa: It was the sweetest experience to watch Chris baptize Katie for his grandma.
Chris: We felt closer to our ancestors today than we ever thought possible. I felt almost like I had accomplished something that I was sent here to do in this life. It was a beautiful experience for us. Overall, it’s been just an amazing blessing. And to think that our journey is really just beginning, it’s a really exciting thing for us.
Nicholas: Sister Aburto, what is an example of gathering you saw?
Sister Aburto: Well, I saw those new members put names on their family tree on FamilySearch.
Julie: Yes. This is a great first step in gathering their family. What else?
Sister Aburto: I saw them taking the names of their ancestors to the temple too.
Julie: Very good. Isn’t it such a blessing to have so many temples on the earth? Nicholas, what did you see or hear that point to blessings from participating at the temple?
Nicholas: I saw a ward member helping them get names ready to take to the temple.
Sister Aburto: Yes, I noticed that too. I think it is a real blessing to a new member to have others minister to them in this new service to their ancestors. Temple and family history is all new to them. So having someone who is already familiar with this work can increase the spiritual experience and the power of it.
Julie: Yes. I like what Brother Bush said at the beginning about accomplishing something he felt he was sent here to do in this life by taking his family names to the temple.
Sister Aburto: Yes, wonderful. There are many blessings that come from ministering to temple and family history. President Nelson has said, “When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.”
And I know this is true because being from Nicaragua, for me, it’s not that easy to find names of ancestors when I search. You know, every time I go, I probably find one or two, and sometimes I don’t find any. However, what happens is that my heart turns to them, and I feel so much love for them. And I feel so much more love for my Heavenly Father, and my Savior too. So the important thing is that our heart is turning.
And as we have been taught tonight, sisters and brothers, this is what success in gathering looks like. This is what success in gathering feels like. I testify that the example shown to you tonight of this family experience at the temple is what the Lord wants for all of us to feel as we minister to temple and family history. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sister Aburto: Okay. Julie and Nicholas, stay here, because Sister Jones also wants to learn from you, Okay?
Julie and Nicholas: Okay.
Sister Joy D. Jones
Primary General President
That’s right, Sister Aburto. These two youth are sharp. I’m sure to learn some exciting ways to gather Israel tonight. A few years ago in this meeting, I said that family history work is missionary work. It is clear these two, along with so many of their peers, are already fully engaged in the missionary work of ministering through temple and family history.
Julie, let’s talk about that very important step we saw of taking names to the temple. Would you like to show everyone an easy way to have names ready each time they go to the temple?
Julie: Sure thing, Sister Jones. I just learned last week about a cool feature in the Family Tree app called “Ordinances Ready.” It’s super easy to get four names each time I go to the temple to do baptisms. As the Young Women’s class president, I’m excited to share this with my class so everyone can get four names too. So each of us has names to minister to before we even arrive at the temple. Want me to show you how it works?
Sister Jones: Absolutely.
Julie: All right, awesome. Why don’t you get your phone out and follow along? So first, you just want to open the Family Tree app. Then you just press “Temple.” And then it says “Ordinances Ready.” You just click on that. And I’m going to do “Baptism and Confirmation.” And then we’re going to find out who we’re going to save.
Julie: Right. It’s going to load a bit.
Sister Jones: Because there are so many names, right?
Julie: There’s so many.
Sister Jones: Okay, mine is doing it too.
Julie: All right. Well, it’s loading, but usually what pops up is it’s going to say “We Found People.” And then you’re just going to press “Continue,” or you’re going to press “View People.” You’re going to find out all the names that you can go on and baptize. Then you just press “Continue.” And then a QR code comes up on the screen.
You have two options once you get to that screen. You can either press “Save to Photos,” and it saves to your phone photo album. And you can show it when you get to the temple, and they can print it out there, and you get your cards. Or you can just press “View Cards” if you have access to a printer at home and just print out the cards and show them to your temple and baptize them.
Sister Jones: That sounds wonderful. It’s really that easy?
Julie: Yeah, it’s that easy. And if there are no names in my own family tree available and ready for a baptism, like it just said right now, the app gives me names from other members who sent names to the temple but can’t make it there on their own. So I get to help them too.
Sister Jones: That is really amazing. And any member of the Church can use this app, right?
Julie: Yes. The app can get help with any names for any ordinance done in the temple.
Sister Jones: Thank you, Julie. That was great. That was terrific. Everyone, do you see how easy it is to follow the example of our youth? Okay. Nicholas, your turn to teach me. We all know family history is more than just taking names to the temple. It is important to learn about family stories and feel the Spirit as we discover about our own personal history. I know there is something that you want to show me that will help everyone have another tool to help them learn about their family stories.
Nicholas: Yep. I like to learn about different names, places, and other cool stuff through the “All About Me” feature in the Family Tree app. So you click “More.” Then you press “Family History Activities.”
Sister Jones: Okay.
Nicholas: And then you scroll a little bit down to “All About Me.”
Sister Jones: I could do this.
Nicholas: Then you just continue as is.
Sister Jones: Okay.
Nicholas: What was your mom’s name?
Sister Jones: My mom’s name was Eleanor Ellsworth. Do you want me to spell it for you?
Sister Jones: Yeah. E-L-E-A-N-O-R. And then her last name was E-L-L-S-W-O-R-T-H.
Nicholas: And when was she born?
Sister Jones: She was born in 1915.
Sister Jones: You don’t know anything about 1915, do you?
Sister Jones: Neither do I.
Nicholas: And what country was she born in?
Sister Jones: She was born in the United States. This is so fun. Are you going to teach me something about my mom?
Nicholas: Then it shows how many—the name popularity of Eleanor.
Sister Jones: Oh, Okay.
Nicholas: Then it loads. It says, “Couldn’t find anyone else sharing this name.”
Sister Jones: Interesting.
Nicholas: Maybe I spelled your mom’s name wrong.
Sister Jones: Oh, maybe that’s the reason. Let’s try it again. I probably spelled it wrong. There we go. Let’s try it again. There we go.
Nicholas: Then click “Name Popularity,” and now it works. In California, it shows 12,775 people have the name Eleanor.
Sister Jones: Oh, that’s a lot. Check Ellsworth. Do you think there will be that many of Ellsworth?
Nicholas: Probably not. And then—[ Laughter]—and then for your last name, again, California has 3,981.
Sister Jones: Oh. That’s a big difference.
Nicholas: Yep, big difference.
Sister Jones: That’s fascinating. Are there more things that I could learn about my mom’s history?
Nicholas: Oh, yeah. If you scroll down, it goes to the cost of a movie ticket.
Sister Jones: Oh, Okay. Let’s see how much movie tickets were in 1915.
Nicholas: And when she was born, it cost $0.08.
Sister Jones: What?
Nicholas: Let’s go back to that time.
Sister Jones: Seriously.
Nicholas: Then when she turned 8, $0.13.
Sister Jones: Oh.
Nicholas: And then when she turned 16, it cost $0.20.
Sister Jones: Inflation. $0.20.
Sister Jones: Wow.
Nicholas: Was there any cool stories that your mom told you when you were younger?
Sister Jones: Actually, you know what? As you were talking, I was thinking about my mom, because she always had a fun story that she shared with her family. When she was in high school, she was a senior, and she earned some money so that she could go buy some fabric. She had to learn how to sew. She had to make her own clothes. And she was a good seamstress.
So she made a new dress, and she was going to wear it to the dance. And she had a date. A young man had asked her to go to the dance. She was so excited. So they went to the dance. And when they got there, they met another couple. The other couple went to dance, and she and her date danced.
But then the young man from the other couple came over and asked my mom’s date if he could dance with my mom. And he said yes. And so they danced one dance. And then they danced another dance. And then they danced another dance. They ended up dancing together the whole night.
Sister Jones: And do you know what? This young man that kept dancing with my mom, he came over to this young man that brought her to the dance and he said, “Would it be Okay if I took Eleanor home tonight?” [Laughter] And he says, “And by the way, could you take my date home for me?”
Julie: That’s awesome.
Sister Jones: Do you know who that young man ended up being?
Julie: Your father.
Sister Jones: Yes! [Laughter] My dad. That was my father.
Julie: That’s awesome.
Sister Jones: That’s where it all began. She said it all began at that dance in high school, and they were together forever after.
Sister Jones: Isn’t that a fun story?
Julie: That is crazy.
Sister Jones: So where would you look if you wanted to find some stories about your family?
Nicholas: I would go back. And then I would put my grandparent’s name. And then I’d put their first name, then last name, and then the year they were born, and then what country they were born in.
Sister Jones: Just like you did to find my mom.
Sister Jones: That is so easy, and such a great idea. That was so much fun. Thank you so much, because you’ve shown us such a simple way to look back to learn about family and to capture stories that will last for generations. That’s what we all want. Even just talking about our own family’s story and learning from living relatives about their lives is a terrific way to minister through temple and family history.
temple and family history efforts can be pure fun, and these two just showed us, didn’t they? As we’ve been taught tonight, this is what success in gathering looks like. This is what success in gathering feels like. It is easy to connect to family across generations by small and simple things like these activities.
As new and tender members grow in their experiences connecting to family and serving generations in the temple, their foundation in Christ becomes more solid. The data is indisputable. Sisters, brothers, as youth minister to others through temple and family history, we see an increased rate in the number of young men being ordained elders and serving missions, and we see an increased rate of young women staying on the covenant path and receiving the blessings of temple ordinances in their lives. And for new members who engage in ministering through temple and family history, they are retained on the covenant path at higher rates.
Indeed, all of us who minister through temple and family history receive added power in accomplishing the work stated by Paul—“that in the dispensation of the fullness of times [we] might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Brent H. Nielson
Of the Missionary Department
Thank you, Julie and Nicholas, and thank you, Sister Aburto and Sister Jones. You’re probably wondering what someone from the Missionary Department is doing here at a temple and family history meeting. And the answer is simple: It’s all one work. We’re all involved in this same work of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.
In missionary work, we’ve learned some interesting things. We’ve learned that invitations to others need to be normal and natural; they need to be genuine, and they need to be authentic. And when they’re normal and natural and when they’re genuine and authentic, people are very interested in knowing what it is that we have to share with them.
President Nelson explained that people have an inborn desire to know something about their ancestors. That becomes a natural opportunity for our missionaries. As the missionaries learn to love the people they are contacting, missionaries will naturally ask about their families. Are your parents living? What about your grandparents? Are they living? Do you know your four grandparents?
Conversations flow easily when those who are drawn to this speak with the missionaries and are invited to talk about the people that they love. So you and I can start by asking a question that leads to a conversation about their family, like, “Tell me about your family. Do you have a grandparent you feel especially close to? Where did your ancestors come from? What stories do you know about them?”
When appropriate, share a family discovery experience, many of which can be found on the Family Tree and Memories apps. For example, find a person on the Family Tree app. Share and preserve photos and stories in the Memories app. The All About Me app on the Family Tree app is also available, as well as the My Family booklet that you can share. Open a box full of photos and share memories together.
Let me introduce to you Sara Hammond and Kayla Jackson, who will demonstrate what this might look like for you as you share these things with your friends.
Sara: So Kayla, do you know a whole lot about your family and where they come from?
Kayla: You know, my mom’s always said that we have some British and Irish ancestry. And on my dad’s side, I know that our ancestors were enslaved, so there’s got to be some African heritage there. But other than that, I don’t feel like I know that much about my family’s history.
Sara: Well, I have an app that I can show you if you’re interested.
Sara: It’s called Family Tree. And on it, I’ve built out my whole Family Tree.
Kayla: Is that you right there?
Sara: Yeah, that’s me in the middle.
Kayla: And then those are your parents?
Kayla: And your grandparents? Look at all those photos. That is so cool.
Kayla: Did you do that all by yourself?
Sara: I had a lot of help from some family members, but I did a lot of the work myself too.
Kayla: Nice, nice. Could I create an account like that?
Sara: Oh, totally. So it’s totally free.
Kayla: Oh, nice.
Sara: And the best way to start is to see if maybe one of your relatives is already on here.
Sara: So let’s see. Do you have a relative that you’ve always wanted to know a little bit more about?
Kayla: I’ve always wanted to know more about my grandpa. My dad’s dad. So he passed away when I was 9 or 10, so I didn’t really get to know him that well. I do remember that he would always give me a really good Christmas present every year. Yeah, that was important.
Sara: Just the important stuff.
Kayla: But other than that, I don’t know that much about him.
Sara: Okay. Do you know his name?
Kayla: Yes. It is Alvin Bernard Jackson.
Sara: Alvin Bernard Jackson.
Kayla: Yeah. You know his middle name. That’s awesome.
Sara: It’s a family name. So he’s Alvin Sr.
Kayla: My dad is Alvin Jr. And my little brother is Alvin III.
Sara: No way. Oh, that’s such a cool legacy.
Kayla: Yeah, it’s fun.
Sara: Do you have any memories of your grandpa from when you were really little?
Kayla: I mean, just, we would go every Christmas and see—we would go to my grandma’s house first.
Kayla: My grandparents, they were no longer married at that point. And then we would go to his house, and yeah, it was great. One thing, though, I was actually just talking—oh, look.
Sara: Oh, there we go. Awesome. So it looks like you are one in a million Jacksons.
Kayla: Awesome. I love it.
Sara: It looks like they’re mostly found in the U.S. and in England.
Kayla: And some in Canada.
Sara: And a handful in Canada. Awesome. So there’s a senior. Do you think that might be him?
Kayla: I think that is.
Sara: All right. Let’s check it out.
Kayla: Wow. And there’s a picture, too.
Sara: There is.
Kayla: Look at that.
Sara: Have you ever seen this picture before?
Kayla: You know, it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen it, but there he is, yeah. In his military uniform. You know, it’s so funny. Just the other day, I was talking to my grandma, and we were talking about him and his military service. She actually told me that when he came home from his military service, she believed he experienced some PTSD, and that that coupled with some difficulties in his childhood led him to an addiction with alcohol.
Kayla: And I’ve always known about this a little bit from my dad, but it was the first time that she opened up and had a conversation with me about it. And to hear that different side about my grandpa, I don’t know. Do you feel like as you’ve done some of your family history, you’ve had to reconcile just some difficult things that have come up in your family mind?
Sara: Totally, totally. I mean, my parents are divorced. And there are some painful and difficult relationships there. But I found that as I’ve done my own personal family history and as I’ve learned the stories of their individual lines, learned their strengths and their weaknesses and some of their personal circumstances, it’s helped me have more compassion for them and also have a lot of forgiveness. And really, it’s been really healing.
Kayla: I like that. I feel like the conversation that I had with my grandma was a healing one.
Kayla: So what else is on this app? What else can it tell me about my grandpa?
Sara: Totally. So we can see, it looks like his parents are in here.
Sara: And we can also see—oh, we have his birthday and where he was born. In D.C.
Kayla: Yeah, this is so cool. Sara, how did you even get involved with this? I always thought that family history was for old people.
Sara: Oh, well—[Laughter]—I thought the same thing. So for me, I mean, family history has always been so important to me. And I believe that our family relationships are so powerful that they can endure beyond this lifetime. And that makes me want to know my ancestors more than I would otherwise.
Kayla: I like that.
Sara: Yeah. Well hey, if you want, it looks like we already have a pretty good head start on your family tree. We could get together some time and see if we can work out more of it if you wanted.
Kayla: I would love that.
Sara: All right. Let’s do it.
Elder Nielson: Kayla, can you believe how many discovery experiences you had?
Kayla: I know, it was great.
Elder Nielson: You found out how many Jacksons there are.
Kayla: Yes, I’m one in a million.
Elder Nielson: One in a million. [Laughter] You found out where the Jacksons live.
Elder Nielson: But wasn’t it amazing that you could find a picture of your grandfather?
Kayla: I loved that part.
Elder Nielson: That was on the FamilySearch app? Isn’t that amazing?
Kayla: It’s really cool.
Elder Nielson: And that you’re able to share your experiences that you have.
Elder Nielson: That’s quite incredible.
Elder Nielson: Sarah, as you went through this experience, is there a way that you could have shared a family or memory—photos that you could have shared with her?
Sara: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, Kayla and I are pretty good friends. And so I might start by sharing with her some of my favorite stories from my family tree or some of my favorite pictures. And then since I know that she has a good relationship with her grandmother, I might ask her about some of the stories that she has memories with her or some of her favorite pictures that she has with her siblings or things like that.
Elder Nielson: Wonderful. Brothers and sisters, what we’ve learned is that this is normal and natural. It’s genuine, and it’s authentic. Everyone has a family, and they can find their family as we help them with FamilySearch. Our hope is that as you teach those in your wards and branches, you can all participate in this and be part of this amazing work as we gather Israel on both sides of the veil. I join with these two wonderful sisters in bearing witness to you that this is God’s work and that we can all do it in a wonderful way as we invite people. And I share that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Bednar: Well, you young men and young women have had a remarkable experience tonight. I have two simple questions: What have you personally learned as you prepared for tonight? Now, as you have participated, what have you learned tonight? And what will you do with what you have learned?
Julie: I’ve learned that family history is really important and that it’s a good thing to know where you came from because it tells you where you’re from and your different cultures and who has passed away that you didn’t know about. I think that’s awesome. And I think when I get home I’m going to do the same thing, and I’m going to try to learn about my family. Because I don’t know much about them.
Elder Bednar: Thank you very much. Others—What have you learned? What will you do?
Aubrey: Well, one thing that I’ve kind of learned through this was that through family history, we can all come to Christ, and we can all become closer as a group and closer to our Savior. And so after this, I kind of want to do FamilySearch more often and involve more of my friends in it.
Elder Bednar: Good. Yeah.
Anna: I also thought it was really cool that you can save people by being able to baptize them and help to get the Holy Ghost and help them with that stuff.
Elder Bednar: Good. So what are you going to do?
Anna: So I’m going to do the exact same thing: I’m going to go and find them, and then go baptize them for them.
Elder Bednar: Good. Good, yeah.
Sara: One thing that has really stood out to me is the power of doing family history work—especially with our less-active friends, with our friends who are of different faiths, especially with new converts. I joined the Church when I was 19, and I had great friends who helped me get baptized on Saturday, confirmed on Sunday, and then I was in the temple by Tuesday.
And I think that it was really powerful for me to be able to go to the temple. And even though I couldn’t feel close to my family here on earth physically in the temple, I could feel that relationship grow with my deceased ancestors.
Elder Bednar: Good, thank you.
Kayla: I really loved the pattern of the Ebert family with Sister Rice. That they began to do their family history, they loved it, and then they wanted to share it with another one of their ward members. And I really have felt in my life that for so long I tried to do family history, and I was coming across these barriers and these obstacles.
And it wasn’t until I got together with a friend that she really helped me to find some of my ancestors, and it led me to find over 200 of my family ancestors, which was so empowering to do. And so I think that process of you get converted and you begin to have experiences finding your own family—it will just naturally occur then you want to share that with other people.
Elder Bednar: I don’t want to put you on the spot, but you have been touched by the Spirit even just now as you were describing what’s happening to you as you engage in this work.
Kayla: I just think it’s such an empowering thing to know who you come from. I love this phrase by Maya Angelou, though. “I come as 1. I stand as 10,000.” And I really have felt as I’ve gotten to find some of my ancestors. My dad is a convert to the Church. And so my mom; she comes from the traditional Mormon pioneer roots. And so our family tree was pretty fleshed out on that side.
But for him, there was no one. And as I’ve begun to find them and take their names to do ordinances at the temple and share those names with my family, I feel that. That though I go as one person, there are people on the other side that are around me. They’re my family. They’re rooting for me to be successful here on earth.
Elder Bednar: Well, this makes you and me cousins, because my mom came from Latter-day Saint ancestors as far back as you can go, and my father was a Catholic. So you and I have very parallel kinds of family trees. All right, young man. Your turn.
Tucker: Something that hit me tonight with just how grateful I am for this opportunity to do the Lord’s work on the other side of the veil, to be able to do others’ ordinances that didn’t really have the opportunity to. And they’re God’s children, and he loves them. And we’re the way that they can make it back to him. I think that’s a really special opportunity that we have.
Elder Bednar: Now, you said it especially hit you tonight.
Tucker: Yeah. I think this is something I took for granted, just how easy it is. And it’s something I definitely have to be better about doing.
Elder Bednar: So your preparation for tonight and what has happened tonight has helped you have a richer, deeper experience with the Holy Ghost and specifically the spirit of Elijah.
Elder Bednar: Fantastic. Now brothers and sisters, if I had the wish of my heart, never again in a Church gathering would someone like Elder Nielson feel the need to say, “You probably wonder why somebody from the Missionary Department is here.”
That is so indicative of something that absolutely has to go away. Please listen to these statements from the Prophet Joseph Smith. The first one is on April 6, 1837. “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.” Almost precisely seven years later on April 7, 1844, the Prophet Joseph said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The apostle says they without us cannot be made perfect, for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fullness of the dispensation of times. A dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of men.”
Now, someone might ask, Didn’t Joseph remember seven years later what he had said in 1837? The most important thing is to preach the gospel. No, the most important thing is to search out our dead. It’s the same thing. It’s one work. All things gathered together in one in Christ.
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to summarize something very quickly. And this will be from the Priesthood and Family Executive Council, the Missionary Executive Council, and the temple and family history Council. If you consider the adjustments that have been made, you now have the operational, the executional responsibility for the work of salvation, under the direction of the bishop, taking place in the elders quorum and in the Relief Society. Not just the presidencies—in the elders quorum and in the Relief Society.
Now, please listen. If you pay attention to the recent adjustments in the Young Women classes and in the Aaronic Priesthood quorums, they have exactly the same responsibility, all under the direction of the bishop. But Relief Society, elders quorum, Young Women class presidencies, Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies, quorums, and classes.
And they’re not planning activities in Aaronic Priesthood quorums and in the Young Women classes to take up time, to fill a checkbox because we’re supposed to do this every week, or because we want to entertain people. You focus on the work of salvation, learning and living the gospel, sharing the gospel, uniting families, and helping the poor and the needy. Period, exclamation point, end of sentence—that’s it. This is really simple.
Now, all of this prepares us to hear what I want to express now. Can you see—can you, can we, begin to see what happens when the elders quorum, the Relief Society, the Aaronic Priesthood quorums, and the Young Women classes are all laser-beam, singularly focused on the work of salvation? The miracles that will occur, the advancement of this work in the earth, will be astronomical.
And I have this one admonition: Do not underestimate the capacity of these young men and these young women. They don’t just need to sit and listen to adults tell them how great it is. They don’t need to have adults saying, “Well, when you get a little older, you’ll have your turn.” They need to be anxiously engaged in this work right now. And they will help identify things to do, ways of accomplishing this work, that will majestically move this work all over the earth. Please do not underestimate what those Aaronic Priesthood quorums and those Young Women classes can accomplish.
Elder Stevenson, thoughts that you’d like to add? And then I’ll bear my testimony.
Elder Stevenson: Thank you, Elder Bednar. It’s been uplifting, hasn’t it, today? As I have sat and thought about the things that we’ve experienced in this past hour, I thought, imagine if I were to stand and describe that I have a way that will inoculate our bodies from virus or disease that I can share with you tonight. And that would be top of mind for all of us.
We know that we live in perilous times. We know that there will be calamities that will come upon the inhabitants of the earth that come to us in spiritual ways. And I think what we’ve just learned about tonight are things that can inoculate us spiritually, even from a very young age. And I just quickly wrote a list of what I’ve learned tonight.
What can inoculate you? Your class. Your quorum. Your ward temple and family history leader who will say, How can I help? The My Family booklet. The Family Tree app. The temple. Ordinances and gathering Israel on both sides of the veil. And so I think we’ve been taught how we can inoculate ourselves in a spiritual way. And I offer my witness and testimony of a loving Heavenly Father who is happy to see the things that we’re discovering. And I offer that witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Bednar: Amen. I want to express gratitude to all of the people, the faithful men and women in the temple and family history Departments, for the stunningly magnificent work that they do. Words cannot describe how much I love them and appreciate what they do. The intent tonight is for this message to go all over the earth to everyone. But I want to add a particular emphasis to the young men and the young women. I invite the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women leaders, the young leaders, to please stand up. That’s some of you too.
Earlier, someone said, Brother Bednar, will you go to the pulpit to conclude, or will you stay with the young people? And I said, I’d much rather stay with the young people.
On behalf of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, to you young people, we have confidence in you. You are the Lord’s battalion. And these adjustments that have been made now organize the work of salvation so that it is so focused and so simple. We know, we witness, we testify, that you will contribute to helping great things happen in this work all over the earth.
We expect you to surprise the adults. We expect you to seek inspiration and revelation. And as you do that in your youth, in a world that is increasingly wicked and ever more chaotic, we promise you will be safeguarded. You will be guided. You will be protected.
What you learn about receiving revelation about others will bless you in magnificent ways. I bear my witness, and include in that witness my two brethren Elder Stevenson and Elder Renlund. I’ll be voice, but it’s coming from all three of us. We unitedly declare our witness of the living reality of God, the Eternal Father, and of His son, Jesus Christ. They live. They are real. They know you by name.
Our beloved Heavenly Father will hear and answer your prayers. The Savior Jesus Christ has marked the path and led the way. Please follow Him. Come unto Him and follow Him. We love you. I again express our confidence in you. And we look forward to the miracles you will help to create. In the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.