Monday, February 14, 2011

Family History

In our congregation, each week different people are asked to speak on various topics. We don't have a paid ministry so we all do our part and serve. I was asked to speak about family history. It was a fairly easy topic as I feel passionately about finding out about family members living and dead. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Mormon Church, families are very important to us (as they are to most religions and peoples) but we are also concerned about finding those ancestors who have passed on before us. Although I couldn't share this clip in my talk or speech on Sunday, it is worth viewing as it gives a wonderful description and feeling to what family history is all about.Why family history is important

And while I won't bore you with the whole text of my talk, I wanted to share one part:

Genealogy is not only about people and how they are related, it is also their stories. My parents and grandparents told us stories about their past - about their childhood and life adventures. I hope parents understand how powerful family stories can be as they teach life lessons like: honesty, humor, love. They connect you to your children and them to you.

My mom tells of having a difficult time adjusting to Kindergarten. She was the youngest child in her family and she tells of crying and crying about having to be at school. One day, she took matters into her own hands and walked home. She lived about 1.5 blocks away from the school, but when she got home, her mom wasn't there. Undetered, she walked across the street to the Mormon chapel (this was in Payson, Utah) and went into the Relief Society room....and there she found her mother. What a funny, yet sweet story. I love that she knew where her mom was. Relief Society (the woman's organization in our church) has played a central role in my grandmother's life, my mother's life and in my life. It is in our blood.
Another story I shared:
My dad recounts how as a collage student he was working on a fishing boat in Alaska. He would work during the summers to earn money for school. As he and my mom were dating, summer came and he went to work. He talks about being on the deck during one of his watches at night and praying to know if he should marry my mom. That story taught me at a very early age the value of prayer and that Heavenly Father hears prayers, no matter where we are.

Lastly, I loved this quote about family history. It rings true for me:
“Knowledge of the historical context in which our ancestors lived, the details of their lives, and the experiences that shaped their personalities are essential to our understanding of ourselves.” “Thus in researching family, we're really researching ourselves.” --Elder Neuenchwander, emeritus member of the Seventy

In some ways, searching the internet, census records, and other sources for family connections is like searching for sea glass. But unlike sea glass, names, dates and places that represent a person hold much more beauty. They represent someone who experienced life, had children, dealt with good times and terrible times. And while I love glass, I think people (dead and alive) are much more inspiring than an old piece of bottle or dish that has been tossed by the waves and finally washed on to the shore. Don't you think?

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