As temples around the world close temporarily for public health reasons, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints look forward to renewed opportunities to worship and serve in these sacred buildings. They also look forward with great anticipation to feeling the family connection that comes from serving in temples on behalf of deceased ancestors.
Here at FamilySearch, we focus on the joy and sense of
purpose that come from connecting families across generations. You can have
those feelings within the walls of your own home! Below are several ideas for individuals,
couples, families with children, and multigenerational families. Some require technology;
others require just time and attention.
1. Build meaningful memories with loved ones.
As each of us experiences an unprecedented and unpredictable
era, we are making history. Live these days deliberately; you’ll likely always
remember how you felt and what you did during this time. Focus on the people
who matter most. Be creative about ways to strengthen relationships, express
love, and laugh—don’t simply pass the time.
If you aren’t able to be with loved ones personally, use
technology to stay connected. Texting and messaging services make it easy to
let others know you’re thinking of them. Use video platforms such as Skype, FaceTime,
Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or others to have more frequent
face-to-face conversations with special loved ones. Host
a virtual reunion with small groups of relatives, such as your siblings, grandparents,
grandchildren, or cousins.
2. Write your own story.
Your memories, opinions, and experiences are all unique—and they
all matter. You are the only person who can write them with complete authority.
Thinking about and compiling your memories can lead to better emotional
health and to recognizing
the Lord’s hand in your life.
Writing (and perhaps rewriting) your personal history helps build
resilience in yourself. Don’t wait until you are older to write your
stories; your memories of earlier years will be more accurate and vibrant if
you write them now. As the saying goes, “The faintest ink is brighter than the
clearest mental memory.”
Can’t think what to write about? Try memory-jogging
strategies. Pull out an old photo album, scrapbook, or box of memorabilia. (If
you don’t have these, look through your camera roll or social media feeds.)
Listen to old songs that bring back memories.
Think about the most important people and experiences in
your past and how they shaped you. Reflect on previous seasons of change or
upheaval and how you grew. Still need ideas? Try these prompts from Record My Story.
3. Swap stories with loved ones and friends.
Storytelling to pass the time and strengthen relationships
is a timeliness
activity across many cultures. Exchange life stories with loved ones in
person or virtually, as your circumstances permit. Telling a story is great
practice for writing it (and vice versa)!
Invite children to listen and participate; they need to know
their stories matter too. Just allow them to tell their stories in their own
ways. With permission from participants, consider recording the audio of these
conversations with your phone and sharing the file with each person.
You may also want to conduct more formal oral history
interviews with older loved ones. After all, if you don’t preserve your
family’s most precious memories, those
memories will fade within three generations. Can’t think of
questions to ask? #52Stories for
Families offers a list of conversation-starting questions. So does this
list of questions to ask your grandparents! This
tutorial on using FamilySearch apps to record oral histories offers
great getting-started tips.
4. Share and preserve family photos and documents.
Images are powerful records, both historically and
emotionally. Find your family photo albums, boxes of old pictures or digitized
images you may have stashed away. What do you know about them? Enjoy
reminiscing—with a loved one, if possible. Enlist older children and youth to help
organize and digitize your photos, following these
tips for safe preservation.
Other descendants may appreciate seeing your old family
photos too. Upload the photos to the FamilySearch Family Tree using FamilySearch
apps, and attach them to the profile pages
of your ancestors. Don’t forget to tag
relatives and add captions. While you’re there, consider choosing
portrait photos for your ancestors’ pages and thanking
others who have contributed images.
Just for fun, compare your face to your ancestors’ pictures to see which ones you may resemble.
5. Explore your tree.
What discoveries await you on the FamilySearch Family Tree?
To find out, add
yourself and your living relatives to the Tree. Then start exploring!
Travel up each branch of your tree as far as you can. Where did each line come
from? Do you notice any naming patterns? Can you find anyone who lived in an
interesting time or place?
When you feel drawn to a particular ancestor or family, dig
a little deeper for their stories. Look at the records that have been attached
to their pages. Take
a virtual tour of the places they lived. Learning more about the
experiences of your relatives can strengthen and inspire you.
As you discover meaningful stories, tell others. Share the
a blog or on social media. Consider including comments about why these stories
matter to you.
6. Help build the world’s family tree.
While exploring the FamilySearch Family Tree, you may notice
erroneous information, missing ancestors, and ancestral profiles with minimal
information. More than 5 million people have contributed to this tree—it’s the largest
shared family tree in the world—and it’s inevitable that incorrect or
outdated information may appear. Don’t worry! This is a work in progress, and
you can help improve contributed data.
Add what you know about your family to the Tree, and attach
any related evidence, such as document images. Correct
erroneous information, and review record hints
to see if they pertain to your ancestor. Record hints often add more information
about a person or family. You can also merge
duplicate profile pages.
Finally, help the Family Tree continue to grow—and catch
fascinating glimpses into history—by participating in record indexing.
Although times may be tumultuous, remember the Savior’s
invitation to “be still.” If we ensure that our focus is on Christ and on service
to others on both sides of the veil, we will feel the peace and blessings that
the temple brings—no matter where we are.
Source: Family Search