IDAHO FALLS — Some direction was given for church youths to do family history. In a general conference session (or many conference sessions, if my memory serves me), the focus called for our children to use electronic devices to accomplish the work. My daughter, Amy, at 15, caught the vision and began her quest to join the millions to serve, to reach beyond herself and find out about her family.
My idea of family history consisted of hours spent with hard copies of documents written by loving ancestors who had much better handwriting than me; gathering bits of information from these documents to transpose to other documents, scratching out dates and names on forms to put in a blue binder; and making sure correct information is written down to take the temple.
A world full of piles of documents and hen scratches.
Amy uses two thumbs, in two minutes, completing a task that took me two weeks with 10 fingers (and 10 toes).
Is there an escalation to the work? You bet. Can the youths take care of this? Without a doubt in one-sixth of the time, and with six times the heart.
I am a technology adoptee, grudgingly advancing my own skills with electronic aid. Amy, a technology native, understands instinctively the nuances of pathways, streams and links in a quick and powerful way.
She got it in her mind to find out the heart behind the name and started to compile a history of my mother. My mother, not a stranger to the stories of our family, and Amy not only put their heads together to fill in the blanks of our ancestors, but also united two hearts tighter to strengthen the love they already have. Electric conversations were documented to create exciting history, blending both “what already was” to “what can be” — both grandmother and granddaughter discovering experiences tied to feelings to intensify ongoing commitment, such as:
The Great Depression didn’t extinguish the strength of a home with two devoted parents and 12 children tied to the gospel.
Love may be imperfect, but there is positive love between a married couple.
The surprising fact that Amy “walked in” my mother’s shoes, experiencing heartache and joy, sadness and laughter, sickness and health, enemies and friends.
Enduring relationships trump worldly fame and wealth.
“Hey, Grandma had a lot of cool stuff happen to her.” As Amy used the electronics at her fingertips to give accurate accounts of an amazing lady, moving her to not only get the history correct, but to strengthen decent lives with the wonder of well-lived life. In the process of recording, a cord of strength lengthened across the generations to provide powerful connections back to a spiritual root.
I am heartened by the path that takes our youths out from their daily existence and transforms them into keepers of the promise of old to ”turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6), directing their lifelong course.
Let’s let them follow their hearts.
Bill Hill lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with his wife and three daughters. He works for a counseling agency.