by Brother and Sister Miller, Area FH Advisers, Northern part of New England
Probably you are well aware of the family history myths that circulate endlessly. Not only are they false, but they prevent people from getting the blessings they need and deserve.
Family history is hard. Family history is a collection of many small steps. The steps are easy, but together, they make up a magnificent tapestry of your heritage. Even one or two pieces can make a big difference in how you see yourself and your ancestors. Family history is people – your own family. What’s hard about that?
Family history takes a lot of time. Learning about your family is a life-long pursuit, but it is done in small bits of time. By spending just two or three hours per month, you can accomplish a lot, whether it’s getting in touch with family members, interviewing relatives to learn stories, or preparing a name to take to the temple.
You need to be smart to do family history. Obviously false, since we can do it! Having success in discovering family history requires curiosity and questions. You don’t have to know a lot – you just need to want to find out about things. Anyone can ask questions – and write down the answers. The best part is when you are working on family history, you get help – from friends, from family members, and often, from beyond the veil. Once you start asking questions, it will surprise you how the answers come.
Family history is expensive. Like most things, you can spend as much money as you want on it. There are subscription services, like ancestry.com that are helpful, but you can use them for free at your local family history center. Some of the most important information you will get is from family members, and that doesn’t cost much at all!
There will be a better time for family history later. Maybe when you retire, you will have more time – but how many of your older relatives will still be alive then? And your children and grandchildren, who could benefit from learning about the family they are part of, will be grown and perhaps far away. Now is absolutely the best time to begin your family history, or to continue it. Don’t put it off for later.
All my family history is done. When you start gathering information from family members, you will soon see that it is not all done. In addition to building a pedigree on all your family lines, there are stories to record, life lessons to put into words, pictures to gather, and temple work to do.
The church has all my information. One of the advantages of New FamilySearch is that it shows what information already is on file and what information is missing – including temple ordinances. As FamilySearch Indexing continues, more and more information is available in New FamilySearch. But because this information is not directly sent to the temple for ordinances, many of the people identified in the records still wait until a living relative finds them and requests temple ordinances for them. How frustrating it must be to have your information there, in the church’s database, and not have any of your relatives request temple ordinances for you! The church having the information (somewhere, along with information about millions of others) does not mean temple ordinances are done. That step depends on you.
I’m just not interested. Obtaining a testimony of family history and temple work requires involvement. You must “plant the seed” before you taste the fruit. To be honest, we weren’t at all interested in family history until we tried it. We began (like everyone else) because we were “supposed to.” But as soon as we started, we felt something. You can feel it too, perhaps as you discover an ancestor, perhaps in the temple.
I need to focus on my living family before I can think about the dead. Our own families require (and deserve) our best attention. Thankfully, we have many labor-saving resources unknown to our ancestors, so providing home, shelter and other necessities doesn’t require the hours of back-breaking effort it did in the past (making our own soap, growing and preserving all our food – without refrigerators or freezers, making our own clothes, etc.) However, even after the best we can do, our living family members may require more, whether for their health, testimony, or whatever. Family history and temple work provide a great opportunity to secure divine help – not just for ourselves, but for those we love and yearn over. We are convinced that if we will spend time helping unite our families in the spirit world, they somehow intervene to help with our families here on earth.