Over the past few years, Apostles have issued several challenges to the youth to become personally involved in family history and temple work. In Elder Bednar’s landmark address he said “I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults.” Elder Andersen’s campaign to “Find Our Cousins” is bearing amazing fruit. To date, 25,000 youth have accepted his challenge.
This challenge brings back memories of my own youth. Thanks to my family and ward, I was heavily involved in family history and temple work as a teenager. In the year before my mission our ward worked together to submit many names to the temple. When I got home from Peru, my stake president said “you obviously have the Spirit of Elijah” and invited me to speak at our stake priesthood meeting. In my talk, I explained how I had personally submitted numerous cousins to the temple at ages 17 and 18. I told how the Spirit of this work had really helped me in my life and prepared me for a mission. I shared experiences of how talking about family history to the public and Latter-day Saints in South America had produced positive results. After my talk was over, my stake president went to the pulpit, and challenged all the high priests in our stake to submit more names to the temple than I did as a teenager.
I found the family names by starting with ancestors from the 1700s and tracing their descendants down to the year 1900. In the process, I discovered many cousins whose temple work had not been done. I benefited from the research of many non-LDS genealogist cousins in piecing together these families. In appreciation to them, in addition to submitting these names, I also prepared the material in a format they could easily access by publishing two source-filled books on my families. I had no formal training as a genealogist when I did this work. To date, even after many years of classes and achieving the status Accredited Genealogist, I have discovered only a few errors in the relationships I submitted as a teen.
I remember visiting our local family history center many times in the 90s to process names to submit to the temple. In comparison today, FamilySearch now makes it even more convenient to process names for the temple and share what we discover with everyone. I love being able to submit names sitting on my couch at home. Most of the sources I used to piece the families together back in the pre-Internet days are now available for free online at FamilySearch.org and can easily be analyzed and attached to FamilySearch Family Tree.
What an impact temple work is having as the youth and more members of the Church are becoming involved. As Elder Cook recently said, “Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people.” Their example challenges all members, especially their own families, to become involved. I’m very grateful for the Lord’s interest in promoting temple work among the youth. I’m excited about the fruit this army of temple submitters will produce as they hasten the work!
 “Youth Temple Challenge,” LDS.org, https://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/temple-challenge.