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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Family history work, like mountain climbing, requires stamina, patience and diligence, said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during Family Discovery Day at RootsTech at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

A year ago, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a challenge to attendees of the 2014 RootsTech conference: “Prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple.”

At the 2015 RootsTech Family Discovery Day on Saturday, Feb. 14, he noted that since last year’s convention tens of thousands had accepted the challenge and many had sent in stories about the blessings that had come into their lives. He then added a teaching element to the challenge, saying, “This year let’s add eight words to the temple challenge: ‘Prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple, and help someone else to do the same.’"

Using the estimate of 100 billion people that have lived on the earth since its creation, Elder Andersen showed an animation of what it might look like if these 100 billion people were organized as families in soccer fields. With 5,000 people per soccer field and 1,000 soccer fields per city, it would take 20,000 cities to hold 100 billion people. “These are our brothers and sisters: they are not just colors on a map,” he said. “We must come to know them, organize them and take their names to the temple.”

He then added: “Looking at this scope of what is before us, someone might say: “It is impossible. No one can do that.” I remind you of these words of scriptures: “With men [it] is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

“Through the visit of angels and the power of God, the gospel was restored in our days and this sacred work of providing ordinances for our ancestors was begun. With your generation the work will be accelerated. One day, with the help of heaven, the work will be completed. How will we do it? We will advance this glorious work as we have always pursued the work of God—one son or daughter at a time, one child of God at a time—until all the work is finished. “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

Describing the great blessings available to people on the earth in the latter days to assist in family history and temple work, Elder Andersen said, “You live in the time of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ upon the earth. It is a glorious time to be alive, with blessings and opportunities past generations could not have imagined. You live in a time of temples and technology.”

Explaining that there are often roadblocks with family history and temple work, Elder Andersen explained the need for perseverance. “Just like climbing a mountain, this work requires stamina, patience and diligence. As with anything important, there will be discouragement, disappointment and setbacks but there will be glimpses of eternity never before imagined. As you do your best, you will feel your abilities grow and your desire to advance this work will increase.”

One of the blessings of being involved with temple and family history work is the promise from the Prophet Joseph Smith that people can become “saviors on Mount Zion.”

“We have received many stories about the blessings that have come from being ‘saviors on Mount Zion,'’” said Elder Andersen. He then shared a video about Mandy Phillips, a young adult from San Francisco who found her grandparents through family history work. Sister Phillips and her grandparents were in attendance and stood up to be recognized after the video.

After explaining the addition of eight words to his temple challenge, Elder Andersen put the words of the updated challenge on screens throughout the conference hall: “‘Prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple, and help someone else to do the same.” He then encouraged everyone to take a photo of the challenge, share it on social media and tag someone to share the challenge with.

Multiple times throughout the session Elder Andersen taught the audience to, “accept the challenge; accomplish the challenge and share the challenge.” And to illustrate the teaching aspect of the challenge, Elder Andersen shared a video about a young man named Samuel Hepworth who learned to take family history names to the temple and then taught a friend to do the same.

In a live video conference call, Elder Andersen called Elder Samuel Hepworth who is currently serving a full-time mission in Concepcion, Chile, to discuss his experience in teaching others to take family names to the temple. Elder Hepworth talked about how he is teaching investigators to do family history work by using the booklet “Mi Familia,” or "My Family."

Elder Andersen then brought out on stage Elder Hepworth’s friend Lauren Hatch whom he taught to take names to the temple. The two spoke briefly and then Elder Andersen shared a video about how Lauren was teaching her family. “Elder Hepworth accepted and accomplished the challenge,” said Elder Andersen. “He then shared it with Lauren who taught her family.”

In closing Elder Andersen offered a blessing: “As you accept this challenge and teach it to others, I promise you that you will feel the beautiful link that binds us together as families through eternity. You will feel a happiness for those who accept your sacred offering. Your hearts will truly be turned to your fathers and you will feel their hearts turned toward you. You will feel purpose and strength that will help you to avoid the temptations that surround you. You will better see the unseen; the eternal things that the world does not see. As you add this work to your righteous life, the Gift of the Holy Ghost will be a stronger influence upon you. Your belief in and appreciation of the Savior will increase. You will better understand the power of His Atonement and you will be safeguarded from the distractions that can so easily pull you from His commandments.”

Al Fox Carraway and Noelle Pikus-Pace also spoke at the session. Sister Fox spoke about the great blessing it is to be involved in gospel and family history work and Sister Pikus-Pace talked about the past, present and the future, and the need to be persistent, set goals and become the best person possible. Separate reports will be posted later.

rmorgenegg@desnews.com

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