Using Family History in Missionary Work

My Family Booklet peopleHere are the notes from my zone conference training on Family History and Missionary Work this last week.

We are all-purpose missionaries.
What does that mean?

What is our goal?
Our goal does not end with baptism, it’s helping our new friends reach eternal life with their family members.

From the beginning, it’s important to help each investigator feel progression isn’t something we do in isolation.   We love EVERY family member.

President Russell M. Nelson, New MP Seminar, 2014:
Too often we split the Lord’s work into parts we think are unrelated. Whether it is preaching the gospel to nonmembers, serving with new converts, reactivating less-active members, teaching and strengthening active members, or performing family history and temple activity, the work is indivisible. These are not separate. They are all part of the work of salvation. Those on the other side of the veil rejoice and shout praises when their descendants accept or return to the gospel, for they know that their descendants are now able to perform vital temple ordinances in their behalf, linking together generations who have passed.

Bryant S. Hinckley:
Why is it that sometimes only one of a city or household received the Gospel? It was made known to me that it is because of the righteous dead who had received the gospel in the spirit world exercising themselves, and in answer to their prayers elders of the Church were sent to the homes of their posterity that the Gospel might be taught to them and through their righteousness they might be privileged to have a descendant in the flesh do the work for their dead kindred.
I want to say to you that it is with greater intensity that the hearts of the fathers and mothers in the spirit world are turned to their children than that our hearts are turned to them.

BYU Stadium
BYU Stadium
Share experience sitting in the stadium at BYU, listening to the thunderous cheering around me, when it was made known to me in a quiet but sure way that there are as many of my ancestors and concerned loved ones cheering me on beyond the veil as there were fans in that stadium. I was taught that I am not alone here, and that there are scores of family members pulling for me, cheering for me, shouting at me. Among those are family members waiting for me to prepare their temple work so they might be saved with our family.

Jeffrey R. Holland:
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17).

In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike–and they will–you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.

If this is true, it’s not improbable that those who are watching you are those who love you most–your ancestors and your future children and grandchildren and all of your posterity.
And those who are watching the individuals you are teaching are their ancestors and their future posterity.   You are not alone in this work!!

So, how can we use these armies of goodness surrounding us in our missionary work?

Elder Packer quoted Elder Nelson who said that
“The Spirit of Elijah is the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the eternal nature of the family.”

Remember the exercise we did with Elder Packer at our last Zone Conference?
At one point in his training asked us to turn to another missionary and tell them something about one of our family members or ancestors. The room was buzzing with stories and good feelings! I thought immediately of Frances Amelia Kimberley Turley, my 3rd Great Grandma, who died 168 years ago that week in Winter Quarters. She had 10 children, 6 still living. She died of scurvy in horrible conditions, having sacrificed everything she had for her family and for her faith.

After we’d shared stories with each other, Elder Packer asked us to describe what we were feeling as we did this exercise. I jotted down some of the feelings that you voiced:
grateful, indebted, connected, happy and proud. You also described feeling guidance, charity, honor, sacrifice, devotion, perseverance, and a resemblance to those who had gone before you.

We all felt love and connection to our family members and ancestors. There was an outpouring of love in the room.

Then we talked about using the MY FAMILY booklet as a missionary tool, because everyone has family and every family has stories. When you share those stories, the Spirit of Elijah is felt.  This spirit softens hearts and helps us feel things we might not otherwise feel.My Family Booklet Ann page

The very evening after that last Zone Conference Sister Mrozek and Sister Hirsche had this experience and shared it with President Lewis in their weekly letter:

Sisters Mrozek & Hirsche:    [this was in their letter to Pres Lewis]
A part-member family agreed to have us over, so we prepared a wonderful message about the Gospel, and learning about the Restored Gospel, and all these Gospel-themed things. But when we got there, they were eating dinner and the husband (non-member from Mexico who had learned English) said we had 10 minutes before we had to go because they were going to rush out to a meeting. We were talking to the member wife about what we had planned to do, but it wasn’t feeling right, and the husband mentally checked out, looking at the clock. Out of nowhere, I decided to ask him in Spanish what part of Mexico he was from. He LIT UP. It was so unexpected. He told us, and then he wanted to know why I speak Spanish, and so in talking about the Mexico MTC we got talking about their unusual last name. Well anyway, he made himself late to his own (maybe fabricated) meeting last night, and we set up a return appointment with the promise that we would bring some My Family pamphlets so they could get working on their family history (which it turns out they’ve both wanted to do forever, but never had anywhere to start!). The Spirit really was SO strong I’ve never seen someone go from completely shut off to “YES! Let’s PLEASE meet with the Mormons one more time!” 🙂 I’m just so glad we followed the guidance of Heavenly Father. What we prepared was not what that family needed.
[Great story about a girl from Ghana who found her family after using the My Family booklet.]

Elder Bednar
“The time has come for us to capitalize more effectively on the potent combination of the mighty change of heart, made possible primarily by the spiritual power of the Book of Mormon, and the turning of hearts to the fathers, accomplished through the Spirit of Elijah”    (Mission Presidents Training Seminar, July 2013).

Elder Quentin L. Cook
explained that the change of heart necessary for baptism was the gateway to the covenant pathway towards temple ordinances. He compared this to the turning of hearts through the spirit of Elijah, pointing out that it is all part of one great work of salvation.
(Mission Presidents Training Seminar, July 2014).

Show Our Yakima Mission blog post 1 Sept 2015 (photos of booklet)

Discussion at Tables
Sharing OYM approaches with Family History
Ideas of ways to use the booklet in missionary work

Family Search Pass-Along Cards
2015-9-25 card
Keep in mind–
Share a Short story, show a family photo.
If you have a booklet with any family photos, show a FACE.
Most people don’t want to hear long detailed stories about YOUR ancestors.
They’d rather talk about THEIRS!

Ways to ask: (“Tell me More. . .”)
What is the origin of your family name?
Have you ever visited the place where your family comes from?
Did you know your grandparents? Great-grandparents?
Do you have a map showing where your family came from?
Who was the first in your family to come to Washington? America?
Do you know the story of why they came here?
Did your family keep a Family Bible that might tell about your ancestors?
Have you ever seen a photo of your grandparents/great grandparents?
Are you named after anyone in your family?
Do you know anything about that person?

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoy the things shared here.
This entry was posted in Missionary Work in the Yakima Mission. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Using Family History in Missionary Work

  1. Kimm Harman says:

    Hi Sister Lewis,
    Our son Zev Harman is headed your way very soon. He enters the MTC October 21st. He received his letter and packet from you and President Lewis yesterday. So today after reading your letter and this entry on family history, my husband and I were sharing some family stories. In the process we were reading in a booklet we were given years ago at a family reunion about some of the Harman ancestors. One of Zev’s great, great uncles had a son that settled in Yakima Washington right after World War II. We were not aware of this until today. Needless to say it was a great spiritual moment for us all when we read this, as we had never heard of Yakima until he received his call, and also has us all of a sudden very excited to do more family history! So thank you for all you are doing and will do. We are so thankful that we are sending one of our 4 most precious treasures to you. This is our first child to serve a mission and I never could have imagined the emotions I am feeling right now. But, we know he will be in good hands. Sorry to be so long winded. Just had to share this experience.
    With love and gratitude,
    Kimm Harman


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