Searching vs. Surfing for A Name
Our ward is working on a temple challenge to find a family name for temple work by the end of November. I think it’s important to talk about the difference between searching for a name and surfing for a name.
Searching: Finding records that reveal relatives not yet in Family Tree. Adding them to the tree, checking for duplicates, and reserving their ordinances.
Surfing: Clicking around family tree until you find a relative with a green temple icon, then reserving their temple ordinances.
When I really search for records about my ancestors, instead of just surfing for green temple icons, these ancestors start to come alive. I feel what Elder Packer described here –
“You cannot find names without knowing that they represent people. You begin to find out things about people. When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them.” -Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Your Family History: Getting Started, August 2003 Ensign
The youth are constantly being challenged to find a name for the temple. The Find, Take, Teach FamilySearch initiative is in full swing! Many have had positive experiences finding a name. However, I have left several “find a name” youth activities feeling unsuccessful because only a few people were able to find a name for temple work in the allotted time. I want everyone who gets started researching their family history to feel successful! With activities like Mission Possible (training youth how to use FamilySearch) and Finding Franklin (teaching youth about using the census), it’s so much easier to help youth have that early success.
Beyond teaching and training the youth how to use Familysearch.org and reading historical records, we need to begin our search for a name by relying on the Spirit. President Monson counseled us in June 2014 that we have an important role in hastening the work of salvation through family history work. He said,
“Now, family history work is not easy.”
The challenge to find a name for temple work is truly challenging! Especially for beginners. But with a little help from the Spirit and a little dedication, we can do it. Here are 7 Steps to Searching (not Surfing) for a name.
This process cannot be done in one hour. It may take two weeks, spending 3 hours each week. It may take 6 weeks, spending one hour each week. It may take one week, spending an hour each day. In my experience most people can find a name within 4-6 hours of dedicated, guided research.
It’s important to take notes in a notebook or research log about what you’ve discovered each time you research. After a few sessions of consistent researching, and finding everything you can about the family you chose to research, you will start to really know them. Their names will be familiar to you. When you go to the temple to perform ordinances for them, they will be more than a name on a card. You may remember that she had 9 siblings and her father was a blacksmith, and that her mother died during childbirth. You may learn that the person you’re doing temple work for was killed in a train accident when they were 14 years old. You may learn that they immigrated to the United States in 1879 alone leaving family behind at the age of 16.
Dedicating a small amount of time each week to searching for your family members can be all that is needed to help “hasten the work!” It may seem challenging at first, but consistent effort and help from above will make it possible.