'Find our cousins,' Elder Neil L. Andersen urges youths at RootsTech conference

By R. Scott Lloyd

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 9 2014 2:47 p.m. MST

Elder Neil L. Andersen, left, thanks vocalists Micah Rindlisbacher and Tia Thompson for performing a new song, "Find Our Cousins," composed expressly for the Youth Family Discovery Day devotional at RootsTech 2014 family history conference.

R. Scott Lloyd, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Capping RootsTech2014, which has rapidly become the largest family history conference in North America, an LDS apostle addressed a gathering of 4,000 youths Saturday afternoon at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

With more than 200 sessions to choose from, attendees from 49 states flocked to the Utah capital for the event put on by FamilySearch International, the genealogy service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Much of the three-day conference was secular in nature, but Saturday’s “Family Discovery Day” offered an assortment of sessions with an LDS appeal, and “Youth Family Discovery Day” was designed primarily for youths in the church.

The response was overwhelming. In addition to the 4,000 registrants, another 1,000 youths were turned away because they could not be accommodated.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the featured speaker at the youth devotional, telling attendees that while youths in the church today have become extremely devoted in performing proxy baptisms in LDS temples, “in the months and years ahead you will be just as outstanding in finding and bringing names to the temple with you.”

He asked those who had ever participated in a temple baptism to stand. Virtually everyone in the congregation did.

He then asked them to stay standing if they had participated in a temple baptism for an ancestor, and finally, to remain standing if they had submitted more names of ancestors for baptisms than they had personally performed in the temple. Only a smattering remained standing after the last question.

“I believe that in three years almost everyone will be standing,” Elder Andersen said. “I want to challenge each of you to set a personal goal to help prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple.”

Elder Andersen said there is joy and satisfaction that is only understood through spiritual feelings such as those that come when one helps a deceased person receive temple ordinances.

He said that this past year for the first time he could see his ancestors in a fan chart online. His seven-generation fan chart was displayed on a large screen.

“If your chart is not as complete as mine, your first responsibility is to fill it in as best you can,” he said. “More information is becoming available each month.

“If your chart is as complete as mine, there is still very important work for you to do. This work goes on and on. It will not be complete even when the Savior returns. When our chart appears complete, we help others find those in their lines, and we find those closely related to those on our family tree. We call it ‘finding our cousins.’ ”

Elder Andersen then introduced a new song called “Find Our Cousins,” written by Ross Boothe expressly for the occasion and performed by two young soloists, Tia Thompson and Micah Rindlisbacher.

With the help of his grandson, Clayton Hadlock, Elder Andersen then demonstrated how to find cousins in one’s ancestral pedigree by using an online tool at puzilla.org that allows a user to see hundreds of an ancestor’s descendants from an aerial view with compact symbols revealing patterns of incomplete research.

Working together on the same computer, each with his own mouse, Elder Andersen and Hadlock found an ancestor’s name and a pattern showing their direct line as well as peripheral lines, which would be their cousins' lines.

From Puzilla, they were able to access familysearch.org, which tells whether there have been vicarious temple ordinances performed for an individual. It also helps find documentation, such as birth or christening records that are essential in preparing names for temple work.

“Papi, by clicking on this record, you have found our cousin, and now we can offer her the ordinances of the temple,” Hadlock said to his grandfather, Elder Andersen.

He said, “Papi, even though our family has been in the church for many generations, there are numerous cousins to be found. I’ll bet it is true for every family.”

“It is true, Clayton,” Elder Anderson replied. “We all have cousins waiting for our work.”

To the assembled youths, he said, “When we see ourselves in perspective of our family, those who came before us and those who came after us, we realize how we are part of a wonderful link that connects us all together. As we search them out and take their names to the temple, we bring to them something they cannot obtain without us. In doing so, we are connected to them, and the Lord through his Spirit confirms to our soul the eternal importance of what we are doing.”

rscott@deseretnews.com

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