The fun part about my job is that I get to hear the great things happening in family history centers all around the world. In counsel with your priesthood leaders, and drawing on the inspiration of the Spirit, you too are entitled to find success. You do amazing things in your callings—both fun and inspirational to help more members have the joyous experience of finding an ancestor and taking that ancestor to the temple. For that we can’t thank you enough!
While we serve many people in the family history centers and provide many services, the most important work we do is to help members find ancestors through the My Family booklet or FamilySearch.org and prepare those ancestors’ names for the temple. Keys to being successful in this important work are first counseling with your priesthood leaders, and then providing an experience in the family history center that is attractive to members and their families.
One family history center in Klein, Texas, U.S.A., held a special event for youth. Nearly 300 youth attended. They had three break-out sessions; one for Beehives/Deacons, one for MiaMaids/Teachers, and a third group for Laurels/Priests. Their goal was Elder Andersen’s challenge: find a name to take to the temple. Youth were leading youth. The meeting started by inviting all the youth to download the new FamilySearch and Ancestry mobile apps, which immediately got all the youth engaged. This was followed by a scavenger hunt activity with questions using various websites to teach the “how to” of finding names. This stake discovered that as youth engage in family history work they bring their families along both in finding names and in temple attendance.
A small family history center in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A., simplified their approach with youth groups by emphasizing small steps. “We worked toward small successes. The first is to sign into FamilySearch.org. The second is to connect to their family in Family Tree. Then the youth start looking around and asking the next logical questions…Why is a date missing?…How do I find it?…Can I add brothers and sisters? So the third is to find what is there and what is missing. The fourth is to qualify an ancestor for temple work. I watched a new beehive find several ancestors who were ready to be qualified. Her father watched in amazement. It works best to have someone like the branch president present to help every youth to register.”
Another clever family history center director in Alpena, Michigan, U.S.A., found a unique way to support her priesthood leaders who were encouraging members to submit their own family names to the temple. She brought chocolate chip cookies shaped like people to the branch monthly pot luck dinner. Each member who had submitted one of their own ancestors for temple work went home with a cookie!
A family history center in Lyon, France, had an event with the full-time missionaries where they set up a table out on the street with a great big family tree. They invited passers-by to place a leaf on the tree with the name of an ancestor. Each was invited to come in to the family history center and learn more about their family. In four hours more than 2,000 people participated in this event, with many of the participants spending time finding their ancestors.
Not only are these activities fun and engaging, but more member families are identifying ancestors and taking those ancestors to the temple as a result of their participation in these activities. Family history centers play a key role in helping and teaching members about the work of salvation for their deceased family.
These stories are inspiring and they are only a few examples from the hundreds of success stories from around the globe which I have the pleasure to hear about through the monthly reports you send to us each month. We read them and we are excited to hear the successes you each are having in your own centers. Keep them coming and keep up the amazing work you are doing.