By Ralph and Linda Miller, Area FH Advisers in northern New England
With all the resources available, and in light of other responsibilities (family, work, etc.), exactly what does the Lord expect of us regarding temple and family history work. Here are some thoughts.
There never has been a time of greater opportunity and responsibility for offering temple ordinances to your ancestors. With 130 temples, regular temple attendance has gone from a multi-day bus excursion to something that can be scheduled weekly or monthly for most of us.
Living in the information age brings archive resources and collected genealogical information to your home computer – you can do genealogy in your pajamas when the kids are in bed.
However, other responsibilities call for our time and attention – your occupation, meals to fix, work to do, family to transport to various activities, church assignments and callings, recreational and entertainment activities – the list goes on. There are so many of these that sometimes it seems impossible find time for the temple and informational resources now available to us.
So just what does the Lord expect? Do we need to quit our job or wait until the kids are grown (they may never leave home) before we can focus on this?
Here are our thoughts.
First, what the Lord does not expect you to do:
• Become an expert genealogist
• Quit your job
• Ditch your family
• Abandon your other responsibilities.
What we believe He does expect:
• Take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves
• Use the resources that are easily available to you
• Attend the temple regularly
• Be a tool in the Lord’s hands to help your kindred dead.
What does this mean? You aren’t on your own in this – you just need to be a willing partner. The Lord and your kindred in the spirit world will help things happen.
Go to new.familysearch.org. Use new.familysearch.org to access information already gathered that connects to your family. See if ordinances are needed. While new.familysearch.org includes people who have temple ordinances, it also includes many people who need them. Some of those probably are connected to your family. As you climb your family tree, don’t forget to check in-laws and their families – spouses of uncles and aunts, cousins, etc. Your responsibility includes these, not just direct great-grandparents.
Use information gathered by non-members. While most members of the church do not do a lot of research, there are thousands of non-members who are dedicating their lives to genealogical research. Many of these people are related to you – perhaps distantly and perhaps closely. Talk with your extended family (especially the non-LDS ones) to find out who has done genealogical research in your family. Contact them and ask if they would share the information they have gathered. Offer to provide them information on your own family, children, spouse’s parents and other information that might be of interest to them. Be sensitive about demanding that someone give you everything they have spent a lifetime gathering. Treat it as a treasure – it is! Show sincere interest and respect for their hard work.
Use information posted on genealogical internet sites. Without being an expert genealogist, you can tap into research others have done by using internet sources. In addition to http://www.ancestry.com, there are free sources such as worldconnect.rootsweb.com, where people have posted information about their relatives. No need to re-invent the wheel – use information that already has been gathered by others (perhaps by inspiration).
How reliable are compiled genealogies? As we tell our children, just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it is true. However, internet information is helpful in pointing the way. If someone posts a lot of family information, complete with dates and places, that connects with your family, try verifying at least part of it it by checking census records. See if some family members show up in other records, such as new.familysearch.org or http://www.familysearch.org. If other independent sources confirm what is posted, it points to reliability.
While information should be as accurate as possible, it is not necessary to verify each piece of data before using it – especially if the researcher has given sources. But do check as much as you can.
But this might cost me money! Yes, subscriptions, gas to the temple, etc., require financial resources as well as time. The Lord does not expect you to bankrupt yourself doing this work. If your budget is tight, prayerfully consider your discretionary expenditures – entertainment, recreation, cable TV subscriptions, eating out, vacations, etc. Could you replace some temporal pleasures with eternal investments? We have found that when we include family history and temple work in our budget, things somehow work out amazingly.
Pray and seek guidance from the Lord. This is the best source of direction of all. Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can serve – in your current circumstances. Follow promptings and take advantage of opportunities. They come to you for a reason.
Thank you to Brother and Sister Miller for allowing us to use this article.