6 Talks About Family History from October 2016 General Conference
At the recent LDS General Conference, general authorities of the LDS church spoke about worship, Jesus Christ, faith, and family. Like last time, I listened specifically for guidance relating to family history. Here are six talks that give nuggets of inspiration to help us go forward in our family history efforts.
1 – No Greater Joy Than to Know That They Know By Elder K. Brett Nattress Of the Seventy
Elder Nattress asked us to ponder about the greatest gift we can give our children. There are many things I would like to give my children – an upbringing full of love and learning, a financial inheritance, knowledge of inspirational family stories, and my own example of living a moral and Christlike life.
Elder Natress said, “Is there any greater gift that we can impart to our children than a memory burned deep into their hearts that we know that our Redeemer lives?”
I feel extreme gratitude for my ancestors who gave me a rich legacy of faith. One of my favorite ancestor books that I’ve made was about this subject.
Elder Natress also told the story about how as a boy, he told his mother she was not listening as she read the scriptures to the family every morning. She told him, “Son, I was at a meeting where President Marion G. Romney taught about the blessings of scripture reading. During this meeting, I received a promise that if I would read the Book of Mormon to my children every day, I would not lose them.” She then looked me straight in the eyes and, with absolute determination, said, “And I will not lose you!”
The love and determination of a parent is powerful. Elder Natress quoted the First Presidency who proclaimed: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Finally, he said, “As we devote ourselves to these simple patterns of discipleship, we empower our children with the love of the Savior and with divine direction and protection as they face the fierce winds of the adversary.”
The ancestors who went before me empowered me with their discipleship. I hope to be that kind of ancestor.
2 – Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion By Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President
Sister Oscarson shared three areas of study that women can understand better to strengthen their testimonies: the Savior, the restoration, and the temple.
She said, “we need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants. The temple holds a place at the very center of our most sacred beliefs, and the Lord asks that we attend, ponder, study, and find personal meaning and application individually. We will come to understand that through the ordinances of the temple, the power of godliness is manifest in our lives and that because of temple ordinances, we can be armed with God’s power, and His name will be upon us, His glory round about us, and His angels have charge over us. I wonder if we are fully drawing upon the power of those promises.”
I find great personal meaning in attending the temple – especially as I learn about and serve my ancestors by receiving sacred ordinances for them by proxy. I hope that they choose to accept the ordinances in the spirit world. It is quite a remarkable promise to have the Lord’s glory round about us as a result of this great temple work that we engage in.
3 – Serve By Elder Carl B. Cook Of the Seventy
Elder Carl Cook shared how learning about his great-great-grandfather helped him during a difficult time.
He said, “Recently I received a new assignment … and to be honest, I was less than enthusiastic. A change in assignment brought some unknowns. One night after contemplating the upcoming change, I dreamed about my great-great-grandfather Joseph Skeen. I knew from his journal that when he and his wife, Maria, moved to Nauvoo, he desired to serve, so he sought out the Prophet Joseph Smith and asked how he could help. The Prophet sent him to work on the prairie and told him to do the best he could, so he did. He worked on the Smiths’ farm. I pondered the privilege that Joseph Skeen had in receiving his assignment that way. Suddenly I realized that I have the same privilege, as we all do. … I felt a distinct spiritual confirmation that my new assignment was inspired.”
Elder Carl Cook received help, strength and inspiration through the story of his ancestor. We can have similar experiences when we read the journals, letters, and stories of our family members too.
4 – Lest Thou Forget By Elder Ronald A. Rasband Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“Generations are affected by the choices we make. Share your testimony with your family; encourage them to remember how they felt when they recognized the Spirit in their lives and to record those feelings in journals and personal histories so that their own words may, when needed, bring to their remembrance how good the Lord has been to them.”
Elder Rasband’s talk reminded me that recording the important moments of our lives in a personal history is a priceless gift for those who come after us. Not only can writing our personal history inspire our children and grandchildren, but it can actually provide help and strength to us in difficult times.
5 – To Whom Shall We Go? By Elder M. Russell Ballard Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Ballard spoke about the story in John 6:66-69 when several of Jesus’ disciples left and “walked no more with him.” Jesus asked Peter, “will ye also go away?” Peter said, “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Elder Ballard then shared many of the unique points of doctrine in the LDS church and asked those considering leaving the LDS church, “where will you go” to find the same characteristics.
Elder Ballard asked, “Where will you go to find people who live by a prescribed set of values and standards that you share and want to pass along to your children and grandchildren? And where will you go to experience the joy that comes through the saving ordinances and covenants of the temple?
Certainly, passing along values and standards to our children and grandchildren is an important part of our faith. Leaving a legacy of love for the Savior’s teachings for our descendants is a worthy goal. Also, providing ordinances for deceased family members in the temple is a unique undertaking of the LDS church and something that you really cannot find in any other church.
6 – A Witness of God By Elder Neil L. Andersen Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
As I listened to Elder Andersen’s talk about missionary work and the work of salvation, I thought of an article by Elder Bednar in the October 2014 Ensign. He quoted Spencer W. Kimball who said: “I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!”
I thought Elder Andersen’s comparison of the work of salvation to a puzzle was applicable also to the work of salvation for the dead. Discovering your ancestors is like putting a puzzle together.
Elder Andersen said, “The gathering of Israel is a miracle. It is like an enormous puzzle whose pieces will be set in place prior to the glorious events of the Second Coming. Just as we might be perplexed with a mountain of puzzle pieces, the early Saints must have seen the commission to take the restored gospel to all the world as a nearly impossible task. But they began, one person, one puzzle piece at a time, finding the straight edges, working to rightly frame this divine work. Little by little, the stone cut without hands began to roll forth; from hundreds to thousands, to tens of thousands, and now millions of covenant Latter-day Saints across every nation are connecting the puzzle pieces of this marvelous work and a wonder.
“Each of us is a piece of the puzzle, and each of us helps to set in place other essential pieces. You are important to this great cause. Our view ahead is now clear. We can see the miracle continuing and the Lord’s hand guiding us as we complete the gaps that remain. Then, “the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done,” and He will return in majesty and glory.”
What talks inspired you at general conference?