In response to Elder David A. Bednar’s October 2011 invitation in his "Simple Steps to Find Powerful Spiritual Protection" for young people to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah firsthand, the young men and young women in the Ranch Creek Ward in the Tulsa Oklahoma East Stake readied themselves to participate.
The youths were placed in groups and trained to use FamilySearch.com — and then proceeded to visit 178 households within the ward, teaching families how to navigate the websites, enter generations online and find names for temple work.
“It was so powerful for the youth that seven other wards in the stake copied the idea as part of their mutual activities,” Emily Christensen, who helped lead and plan the project, wrote in an email to the Deseret News. “The youth have learned their own stories, taught even non-member friends how to do genealogical research, and we have seen family relationships in crisis healed through family history work and temple work as adults took time to engage in a focused activity with the youth.”
In this same 2011 conference talk, Elder Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord — not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”
As technology continues to advance, more ways to work on family history continue to emerge. With this rise in capability comes a decline in excuses of why family history should be limited to one age group or demographic. The modern reality is more and more young people are joining in the work.
Just as the youths in the Ranch Creek Ward were inspired by Elder Bednar’s words, youths in the Imperial Oaks Ward in the Spring Texas Stake have focused on using technology to teach others about family history and working together to “advance the work of the Lord.”
Using legacystories.org as a springboard for the project, teams made up of youth and adult consultants visit ward members in their homes and help them digitally record several stories about themselves.
Kathy Larsen, who serves as the ward family history consultant for the Imperial Oaks Ward, said the project has helped strengthen relationships as well as testimonies.
“I have seen people who didn’t want to touch family history have a total change of heart once they realize the bigger picture and how they fit into a family,” Larsen said. “It all starts with a story.”
As youths all across the church learn to love their ancestors and share their stories, the family history work continues to move forward.
As Elder Andersen expressed to those 4,000 youths at RootsTech:
“These are your days. You were born in a time of temples and technology. These are your days to more fully turn your hearts to your fathers and bring these saving ordinances to millions within our families. These are your days to prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.”
Attacking the 1940 census
In 2012, youths in the Santa Margarita Stake in Southern California gathered together to index more than 4,000 names from the 1940 census.
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