Follow-up on October’s Council Meeting “How can we be more involved in family history work and temple worship?”
- I thought the “discover” facial recognition thing was so cool. We have this giant family group text, so I asked them to go download this and send pictures back. It was amazing because [one of the family members] looks nothing like the rest of them. She thought she was just a random mishap [laughter]. The facial recognition that she got was identical to her great-great-great grandma. She texted us and we were like, ‘see, you are part of the family!’ It was so fun to go through and see all the facial similarities. It was this big family history text and we got to be in touch with each other. You not only can see who you resemble, but there are more photos and stories there that you may not have seen.
- This year, I’ve been trying to do 1000 names of indexing every month and I have kept up, October is going to be tough, but maybe I can catch up later. But, I’ve always gone with the easier [files] in English. This morning I downloaded one from Africa that I had to go to their translation to see which ones are saying birthdays and which ones are marriages, because nobody does those. Their section is always there, so I thought, ‘I’m going to try to do these ones that are a little more difficult.’
- [A family member’s fiancé] is from the Philippines and so I told her that there is a lot of indexing for the Philippines and I showed her how to do it. She was all excited!
- I didn’t get a chance to say last week, but I don’t know if the family history class will still be happening next year, I don’t think it will, so take advantage of it now. Go in there and you’ll learn what you can do; it’s during Sunday school.
Highlights from Sunday’s Topic Discussion: “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing” by Elder Dale G. Renlund – 10/21/18
I remember hearing this talk and I was really impressed with all of the promises he gave us in this talk and I put them on this sheet that we’re passing around. These are the blessings that he mentions in this talk:
“…as we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to “healing” blessings promised by prophets and apostles. These blessings are also breathtakingly amazing because of their scope, specificity, and consequence in mortality. This long list includes these blessings:
- Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
- Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
- Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
- Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
- Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
- Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
- Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
- Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
- Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
- Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
- Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.
If you have prayed for any of these blessings, participate in family history and temple work. As you do so, your prayers will be answered. When ordinances are performed on behalf of the deceased, God’s children on earth are healed.”
I really loved those promised blessings and want everyone to have a copy. Look over this list and think of some ways in which you have seen some of those promises fulfilled in your life. If you’re willing to share one of those experiences then we will share them later in the lesson.
Some of you might not know, but I am going to BYU Idaho and I’m minoring in family history research, so I just love it and I have been working on it a lot the last couple of years as I have taken classes. Elder Renlund has talked before at Roots Tech before and he has shared a lot of the same topics that he shared in this talk last year.
Elder Renlund begins his talk with a story about Parley Pratt and his brother, Orson Pratt. “Family relationships can be some of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences we encounter. Many of us have faced a fracture of some sort within our families. Such a fracture developed between two heroes of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Parley and Orson Pratt were brothers, early converts, and ordained Apostles. Each faced a trial of faith but came through with an unshakable testimony. Both sacrificed and contributed greatly for the cause of truth.”
They didn’t get along very well and had some sort of public confrontation and got into a big fight in the street in Nauvoo and they had a “[a] deep and prolonged rift.”
“Parley initially wrote to Orson to resolve the rift, but Orson did not reply. Parley gave up, feeling that correspondence was over forever, unless initiated by Orson. Several years later, in March 1853, Orson learned about a project to publish a book on the descendants of William Pratt, the brothers’ earliest American ancestor. Orson began to weep “like a little child” as he glimpsed this treasure trove of family history. His heart melted, and he determined to repair the breach with his brother.”
“Orson wrote to Parley, “Now my dear brother, there are none among all the descendants of our Ancestor, Lieut[enant] William Pratt, who have so deep an interest in searching out his descendants as ourselves.” Orson was one of the first to understand that Latter-day Saints have an obligation to research and compile family histories so that we can perform vicarious ordinances for our ancestors. His letter continued: “We know that the God of our fathers has had a hand in all this. … I will beg pardon for having been so backward in writing to you. … I hope you will forgive me.” Despite their unshakable testimonies, their love for their ancestors was the catalyst to heal a rift, mend a hurt, and seek and extend forgiveness.”
Sometimes, turning the hearts to the children or turning the hearts to the fathers, is the thing that can lead people to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it can also be the thing that heals our hearts and strengthen our own testimonies. Does anyone have an example of a time when maybe their testimony was struggling, but they were able to turn to the testimony of an ancestor or the testimony of someone else that helped?
- My testimony wasn’t struggling so much, but we just found a really neat story of one of [my husband’s] ancestors. They were in Nauvoo and he was called to go to Tahiti on a mission from Nauvoo. Who even knew about Tahiti when they were living in Nauvoo? It took him 2 ½ months to get there and then he stayed almost three years. He ended up going around the world and they said he may have been the first missionary to go all the way around the world. And he left from Nauvoo- I just think that’s so amazing. Anyway, he had eight children and once he got home, they started late for Utah and he only made it a short distance and then he died. After being gone all that time, I mean the faith he had to have had to do that and he never even made it to Salt Lake. I thought that was such an amazing story. (And the faith of his family, too.) Yes, and she never remarried.
This next quote I really like, Elder Renlund said, “When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind.” So, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. “Family history and temple work is not only for the dead but blesses the living as well. For Orson and Parley, it turned their hearts to each other. Family history and temple work provided the power to heal that which needed healing.”
Now we are back to these promises that Elder Renlund mentioned. He said, “As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby […]”
Why do you think sometimes in the church we think of family history as a hobby or we know who in our family has it as their hobby, so we just leave it to them?
- There are a lot of people who are not members of the church for whom genealogy is a hobby and can also be an obsession. Sometimes I think that they are more diligent than members of the church.
- I think that for many years people often get into the mindset that if it’s not one of our three-hour meetings or it’s not an assignment, then everything else is optional. I think the church is really trying to break us out of that mindset and so family history is not one of the necessary three-hour meetings and it’s not one of the specific callings that most of us get and so we view it as a hobby. Therefore, we have no guilt for not doing it.
Another thing that I found out, [my husband] and I were looking at his family history and he doesn’t have a single line that is not converted to the church in England and came across the plains. Every single one of his grandparents were converted to the church in the 1800s and then came to Utah. So, there’s been a lot of generations that have had [temple] work done in those lines. There’s just a lot of stuff that’s done. Sometimes, it kind of feels like, and this may be the case for you, that there’s nothing more to do.
- I thought that too for a long time, until somebody told me about [looking into cousins once and twice removed]. It’s been wonderful. That’s the names we’re doing and it’s really neat.
- I thought mine was all done, but with all the indexing that’s going on, almost weekly now I can get on there and find information that allows me to do another relative’s name. It may not be someone in my direct line, but we’re encouraged to that too.
- I think sometimes we focus on the checklist and making sure all the temple work is done and then we think there’s nothing left to do. But the spirit of Elijah goes so much deeper than that. With the new things that technology has, like the face recognition, connecting the names, they have so many things that we can do now where you can connect and learn from your ancestors. Remember, Nephi in the scriptures, whenever he rebuked his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, he referred back to family history, he talked about their ancestors. And it’s for our benefit and profit, in a spiritual sense, to get the spirit of Elijah to bind us together, yes through ordinances, but also through genetics and through the spirit of our family. You can look and see, ‘oh my family is really strong and I can grab strength from this part. But they had this weakness there, let me be the one n the family to change that. Let me be the chain breaker. What patterns can we recognize within our own family lines? I believe as we break those patterns here on this earth, there’s a ripple that goes through all eternity. Then you can break those bad patterns for your posterity and you can help heal the lines. We’re in such a pivotal moment in this life because we have these physical bodies. There are things that we can do that we might not fully understand that affect our families. It’s like all of these promises he mentioned- I don’t understand how we’ll get all these promises, other than I know that as we do our family history and learn and grow, it affects our whole family.
- One of the things my mom is working on, as it has been mentioned, my grandparents have done genealogy on both sides going back for generations and generations and generations, not that there’s nothing left to do, but they’ve done a lot. The rest of what needs to be done will take lots and lots of research and time and we’re not all well versed in how to do that, but one of the things my mom is working on is collecting photographs and stories and adding them now that there’s now the online database that you can put those in. So it’s not just a family tree, not just names. Now we can connect pictures, stories, and memories, so when we remember great-great-great grandma, we know more than when she was born and when she died.
- I’m just going to be real about this… When we joined the church, I was a kid, but as far as we knew, no one in our family had ever joined [the church]. Family history work seemed pretty overwhelming because it was wide open. I felt like it just went over my head. I didn’t even know where to begin and it’s too much, and I can’t do it. Thankfully, two of my brothers have caught that spirit and over the years have done a lot of work. Our grandfather came over from Romania with his mother and there’s been this block where we haven’t been able to find out anything for a long time, I want to say my brothers have been doing this at least 15 years, we couldn’t find anyone before grandpa. One of my brothers decided to just look for somebody in Romania that could help and he found a genealogist over that speaks English, that actually knows the area that our grandfather came from, and we have finally have gotten name and we know who our great-great grandfather and grandmother is and it’s starting to spread from there, so I’ve got a little energy from that. I’m not saying that I’m doing much work, they’re giving me a lot of names to go to the temple with, but it’s very exciting. It’s been stimulating my mind to wonder who these people are or were.
I thought all the work had been done for my ancestors and I’d look and it seemed all done, but then I found out that my great-great grandmother was baptized in 1897, so she’s a convert to the church and came to Utah in 1900. I realized that I could go to her father and I could do his descendancy line. His children didn’t all get baptized and she had a bunch of cousins that I could their work. It’s cool because you can look at descendancy lines and they have tools to do that on Family Search too.
- One other thing that we found that was really fun- we went to Google Earth and you can go in on the villages and it was so fun to see the river and the town. That was really fun because we’ll probably not get there.
Elder Renlund said, “An earlier prophet also foresaw blessings for both the living and the dead. A heavenly messenger showed Ezekiel a vision of a temple with water gushing out of it. Ezekiel was told:
“These waters issue out … and go down into the desert, and go into the [dead] sea … , [and] the waters shall be healed.
“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: … for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.”
Two characteristics of the water are noteworthy. First, though the small stream had no tributaries, it grew into a mighty river, becoming wider and deeper the farther it flowed. Something similar happens with the blessings that flow from the temple as individuals are sealed as families. Meaningful growth occurs going backward and forward through the generations as sealing ordinances weld families together.
Second, the river renewed everything that it touched. The blessings of the temple likewise have a stunning capacity to heal. Temple blessings can heal hearts and lives and families.”
He goes on to talk about a family that, at that time, was not active in the church.
“In 1999 a young man named Todd collapsed from a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. Although Todd and his family were members of the Church, their activity had been sporadic, and none had experienced the blessings of the temple. On the last night of Todd’s life, his mother, Betty, sat at his bedside stroking his hand and said, “Todd, if you really do have to go, I promise I’ll see to it that your temple work gets done.” The next morning, Todd was declared brain dead. Surgeons transplanted Todd’s heart into my patient, a remarkable individual named Rod.
A few months after the transplant, Rod learned the identity of his heart donor’s family and began to correspond with them. About two years later, Todd’s mother, Betty, invited Rod to be present when she went to the temple for the first time. Rod and Betty first met in person in the celestial room of the St. George Utah Temple.
Sometime thereafter, Todd’s father—Betty’s husband—died. A couple of years later, Betty invited Rod to vicariously represent her deceased son in receiving his temple ordinances.”
So, I was confused when I first heard this story in conference, but it was probably because Todd and Rod rhyme! It really was a sweet story. And I didn’t know that Elder Renlund is also a heart surgeon, just like President Nelson.
The story continues, “Fifteen years after his heart transplant, Rod became engaged to be married and asked me to perform the sealing in the Provo Utah Temple. On the wedding day, I met with Rod and his marvelous bride, Kim, in a room adjacent to the sealing room, where their families and closest friends were waiting.” Such a sweet story.
“God, in His infinite capacity, seals and heals individuals and families despite tragedy, loss, and hardship. We sometimes compare the feelings we experience in temples as having caught a glimpse of heaven. That day in the Provo Utah Temple, this statement by C. S. Lewis resonated with me: “[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. … The Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.’”
I really love that. What a special quote, “‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.’” Jesus Christ sacrificed for us, He’s going to heal us, both ways. It’s gonna make up for that agony and that tragedy that we experience during our earthly life.
“God will strengthen, help, and uphold us; and He will sanctify to us our deepest distress. When we gather our family histories and go to the temple on behalf of our ancestors, God fulfills many of these promised blessings simultaneously on both sides of the veil. Similarly, we are blessed when we help others in our wards and stakes do the same.”
He ends with a caution made by President Russell M. Nelson, “We can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But we must do something to actually experience the joy ourselves.” He continued, “I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice—preferably a sacrifice of time—you can make [to] do more temple and family history work.”
Let’s go back to the promises on the handout and if any of you have felt inspired during this time of your testimony of the promises you have experienced or seen fulfilled in your life, I’d love to hear from you.
- A couple of days ago, a friend shared that they recently accepted the challenge to find one name and they discovered a surprise in that an aunt needed to be sealed to her parents. This friend’s dad had not been to the temple since his own wedding 33 years ago. The friend shared what they planned to do for the dad’s favorite aunt and the dad felt motivated and for the first time, the dad did what he needed to do to join in the sealing ordinances and just cried and wept and was so happy. There’s all these levels of blessings on both sides of the veil.
- The one that says, “Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone” – about five or so years ago I did some family history work and my mom said, ‘do this line, I haven’t done much on it.‘ So, I did it and I found out so many great things and I thought, ‘I’m the coolest person because these guys are my ancestors!’ This is why I have wanderlust, I want to move somewhere else and do something different because they constantly did that. They moved to the United States before it was the United States. They moved to Pennsylvania and settled that; they settled Ohio, Kansas, California. I just thought that was so cool. I want to be a part of that family. We can discover these people and may see things that run in the family. Like in our family, we like to go places.
- In doing my husband’s family history work, I have seen what a noble family they are. It has helped me to be more appreciative and embrace the strengths that he has from them. It has helped me to be more loving, and kind and have a greater appreciation.
Now we’re going to use the Family Tree app and see who we are related to on the class.
Challenge for this next 2 weeks:
Find one picture or memory to add to your family tree.
Index one batch of names.
If you’re able, go to the temple before we meet again on Nov. 4th.
NEXT WEEK: Sunday, October 28th REGIONAL BROADCAST @ 10am (no regular classes). The next week, Sunday November 4th – Council Meeting topic: How will we share the gospel with our friends and neighbors?