Christina Blanchard, 13, and her 12-year-old sister Abigail, 12, have been working on genealogy family names for almost a year.
“For a long time family history was really frustrating for me,” Christina wrote in an email interview about her experience,
Most of that frustration stemmed from two things:
1. Much of the work was, at least at first or second glance, already done.
2. Viewing family lines in Family Search yielded a lot of duplicate names.
Christina’s father explained that this was the reason he “stayed away” from getting involved.
“After that I just kind of stopped," Christina shared. "I worked on indexing and Personal Progress and things that wouldn’t get me so aggravated.”
Things changed at a ward training activity in the Logan FamilySearch Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Going to that activity was really hard for me,” Christina said. “I was complaining and telling the leaders that I would never find anything because our line is a mess and all the work is already done.” She went into the lab “feeling very doubtful.” But she chose to participate anyway.
She and Abigail decided to make a team effort to find family names.
Viewing the lines in Family Tree on FamilySearch.org, Christina took their father’s line at the top, and Abigail took their mother’s line. Each would pursue each line until the end of it, and, at the advice of a leader, paid attention to children of various ancestors. To their delight, the girls were able to find people who had not yet had ordinances performed for them.
“When I came home, I was just bubbling over with this feeling that is so hard to explain — pure elation and happiness, maybe?" Christine wrote. "It was probably already really late that night, but I did not want to stop and lose this enthusiasm.”
She even got her dad to feel excited. “I got on (Family Tree) and showed my dad what we had done. He got so excited when I showed him that I had these names and they still needed so much work done. Ever since then, he has worked almost nonstop trying to help (those people) get all their work done. ... He has been really thorough; going through records attaching them to the person, etc.”
Thinking about her experience led Christina to recall a New Era article published in January — "Both Parts of the Blessing" by Brittany Beattie — that talks about receiving both parts of the blessing.
“Going to the temple is a blessing, but when you find the names yourself, it just takes the blessing to (a whole other) level,” she said.
In a 2011 general conference talk, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve said, “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.”
Christina echoes this concept: “Getting my dad so excited has also strengthened my testimony of the youth in the church needing to be participants in this work. We are so good with technology, and we have the capabilities and the persistence needed to be enthusiastic about it.”
She’s not blind to the positive influence she’s had on her dad. “And when we do this ourselves and get excited about it, our eagerness can rub off on others.” Abigail added, “Our dad has gotten excited about it (and) has helped us a lot.”
To other young genealogists attempting family history work, they have this advice: “Organization is important, and it helps to make a list of your progress,” Christina wrote. “Even at those times where it does not seem like you are going anywhere, you need to remember the importance of what you are doing.”
And Abigail advises: “Make sure all the information is right for each person before doing the ordinances. Just do your best and be persistent.”
Finally, Christina shares her testimony of the veracity of this work: “Just knowing that I am helping these people to have the opportunities and blessings in the eternities that are available only through the gospel brings the Spirit into my life and makes me want to do more. ... The feelings I get I would not trade for anything in the world.”
See lds.org/youth/family-history for resources designed to help youths and their leaders with family history work.
Karen Schwarze lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. She blogs at karenschwarze.wordpress.com.