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6 Mormon youths share their experiences with family history work

By Melissa Draper

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

David A. Bednar speaks during the afternoon session of General Conference on youths doing family history work at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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In the October 2011 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder David A. Bednar challenged youths throughout the church to get involved with family history work now.

“Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults," said Elder Bednar, who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. "You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family.”

Since that time, many youths have discovered family history work has a valid place in their lives.

“My patriarchal blessing said I would be involved in family history work, and I originally thought it would be when I was old and wrinkly,” said Meagan Twitchell, 18, of Centerville.

After her bishop asked her to work as a family history consultant in her ward, she realized family history work is for everyone.

“It’s not just about finding names to take to the temple. It’s about finding people you are related to, hearing their stories and finding out who they are,” Twitchell said. “We’re finding people, we’re finding other children of God who we can help. And that’s a great blessing to do.”

Searching out family stories also pulled in David Turley, 26, of Salt Lake City. He had to interview someone in his family as an assignment for an institute class and felt strongly he should talk to his grandmother.

"A couple of weeks later she passed away, and besides what I had done, no one had recorded her family history,” Turley says. “It wasn’t much, but I had her testimony and some fun stories from her that I could share with the family.”

After that experience, Turley says he realized the importance of recording his family’s stories now.

“Even though I am young,” he says, “many of the people I love and care about are old. Someone has to do some interviews and talk about it, or they will pass away and we won’t have the chance.”

Since recording his grandmother’s history, Turley has also had success researching family names. He went back three generations and found enough names for many of his extended family to have a family night at the temple.

“We thought the work had been done forever, but it was wonderful to do it knowing that these people had been waiting for years,” Turley said. “It’s amazing what you can find when you just sit down to do it (family history work).”

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” Elder Bednar states in his talk. “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.”

FamilySearch.org is the LDS Church’s family history site where anyone can create an account and start researching their family history and preparing names to take through the temple.

Jessica Hunt, 19, of Pleasant Grove, says she knew about the site because her father works as one of the programmers for FamilySearch. But it wasn’t until she jumped in herself and started exploring that she discovered how exciting family history work could be.

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