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A Time and Season for Family History

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Before I had children, I spent a lot of time working on my family history. I also served for many years in the Family History Center (now called FamilySearch Center) and as a Family History Consultant. I had this marvelous vision of families doing family history research together, and met with church members many times teaching them how to do it together—how to use this great work to strengthen and teach their families.

Then I had my own children, and the realities of life with little ones descended upon me like a thick fog. In the midst of recovering from C-sections, dealing with some minor but chronic illnesses of both myself and my oldest daughter, and just keeping tabs on toddlers and preschoolers who needed a great deal of supervision, I felt entirely justified in putting family history and temple work on the back burner. This was just not the time nor the season for this work. 

A few months ago, I started to feel prompted to get back to it. I wish I could say that I jumped on it right away, but I tend to get a bit obsessed with it, and I just did’t have the mental energy or the time to devote to that sort of activity right now. I continued to reason that I just couldn’t do it now.

Well, the Lord, in his infinite kindness and goodness, continued to prompt me. I decided to look at the New FamilySearch site and later synchronize my records with the FS records. I also took a little time to find out what more records from the Netherlands (where my grandmother was born) had been put online and added some of those to my records.

Just as I had decided that that was enough, my dear friend called me with the wonderful news that she was going to the temple for the first time, and she asked me to be her escort. That event was like ointment to my soul, and I decided then that I really needed to plan time to do both family history and temple work.

Right about that time, I received a call from my mother’s cousin (whom mom had met at a family reunion) asking about my research of our Polish ancestors. I told her that while I was able to find their town of origin in Poland, I wasn’t able to get very far in the researching the records, because (I assumed) many were destroyed. But then I decided to look at the FamilySearch catalog again and found that the records that were missing ten years ago were now available on microfilm. I immediately ordered them (which I discovered that you can now do online).

When they arrived, Grasshopper (7yo) asked if she could go with me. I allowed her to come, figuring that she would figure out it was boring and not want to go again. We quickly saw that the films we  had ordered did not have what we were hoping and went home a bit disappointed. I ordered a couple more and was pleasantly surprised when Grasshopper asked if she could go with me again. (In fact, she insisted we go at a time when I wasn’t even planning on it.) When we got there, we found her great-great-grandfather’s baptismal record from Mogilno, Poland within the first 5 minutes. She was very excited, and I let her see if she could decipher some of the Polish and Latin records. She was thrilled to be able to figure out, for example, that Aprilis was April in Latin. We later also found two siblings, and I was able to share with her the story of how the father of this family came to the US and worked for seven years to save up to bring his wife and children over. She was fascinated by it all. And while I was doing the tedious work, she was pretending to look at her own records at another microfilm reader. (The staff said that she was “remarkably self-contained.”)

I never would have guessed that a 7yo would have any interest in family history, let alone enjoy the research. As usual, I should have trusted in Heavenly Father’s promptings. But I am grateful for His patience with me and for this exciting opportunity to share this important work with my dear daughter.

I certainly do not mean to imply that everyone should be doing the same with their children. But I do want to encourage you to look at those commandments that you have put on the back burner because it is not the time nor the season to do them. Perhaps there are things that you can do with your family that would be a strength and a buoy to them.

I would love to hear about activities or projects that you have been prompted to include your children in which you otherwise wouldn’t have thought they would enjoy. 

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Erin April 18, 2012, 10:05 am

    Continuing on the family history theme, I never would have suspected that my kids (ages 6 and 9, at the time) would have been interested in their great-grandparents’ history.

    About 20 years ago, my grandmother wrote up her memories of her childhood during the 1920’s and the Depression. I put it aside because I was busy in college and getting married and being a newlywed.

    Then, my kiddoes were in the basement, looking for something in one of our many cardboard boxes filled with stuff we can’t seem to throw out (I’m sure that I’m the only one with boxes like these, right? :^) ). Sure enough, they found the manilla envelope with my grandmother’s memories and now these papers are almost like a bedtime story. I never would have that that my kids of the technology age, would enjoy reading Depression era stories such as eating potato peelings for dinner and singing around the piano at Christmas time.
    Erin recently posted…Sunday PensamientosMy Profile

  • Susan May 5, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I have always envied church members who have family diaries going back many generations. I’m thrilled if I find even a grocery list in my mother’s handwriting or a recipe in my grandmother’s! I’ve received a lot of push lately on extending the genealogy work I did in the late 80s, and have found frustrations in some directions, and success in others. It is like pursuing a great mystery, and I love it when I solve a part!
    Susan recently posted…What Have I Been Doing?My Profile

  • Tracy Polyak May 6, 2012, 3:31 pm

    I used to envy church members that had family history going back so many generations. But after chipping away at my own and my dh’s for 15 years, I am convinced that I got the better deal. It is way easier to start from the beginning than to jump into someone else’s research. And in the process, I have been given heirlooms, diaries, and a lot of old pictures. I never thought it was possible when I first started out.

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