News Release

Generations Connect Through Personal Histories and Life Stories

That “hunger” is growing throughout the world. People are discovering that to understand better who they are, they must know the stories of family members who went before them. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those who have a desire to connect in a personal way across generations by researching their family history, gathering written personal histories, preserving oral histories and recording interviews of the life experiences of elderly family members for the benefit of posterity.

Mormons believe the family is ordained of God. They also believe the family is the fundamental unit of society and central to God’s eternal plan for His children. This belief impels older members of the Church to share the important, life-changing moments of their lives with children and grandchildren who, upon hearing and preserving these experiences, develop a stronger sense of family and belonging. With the knowledge of their forbearers’ accounts of strength over adversity, children and grandchildren become better equipped to overcome difficult challenges in their own lives.

“As we contemplate what those before us have gone through that we might be here, as we sense their faith and courage and feel their love for us and our love for them, we realize what is really important,” said former Church leader Elder John H. Groberg to a worldwide conference of Latter-day Saints in 1980. “We realize that so-called problems are only what we see when we take our eye off our eternal goal.”

Latter-day Saints focus on their family history for another reason — their belief that families can be together after this life. They research names and other information so sacred ceremonies and rites can be performed in behalf of their ancestors in Latter-day Saint temples, thereby exercising faith that they will be linked to loved ones as an eternal family.

Mormon youth worldwide are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” said Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church.

Examples of such tools are the Family Tree and Memories features recently launched by FamilySearch. The new Memories feature allows users to easily upload and manage family photos online and to tell their favorite ancestor stories. With photos, faces can be identified and linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree, ensuring they will be accessible for future generations. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.

The two stake family history specialists of the Kampala stake, Mugenyi Harriet  and Mugumya Ivan have to ride two hours to the family history centre in Kampala, Uganda at least twice a week. They say it is such a delight to help members with family history work. “Seeing the joy and happiness that comes over the members when they submit names to the temple makes every effort worth it.”

Godfrey Thirston Izimba a returned missionary from the Nsambya ward and a father of three says family history has helped draw his family together. “As I have searched for the names of my ancestors it has helped my love for them to increase. I am glad to know that our heavenly father so loves that he has a plan that through the ordinances of the temple all my ancestors can have the opportunity to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel."

Sarah Balyejjusa, also a returned missionary from Nsambya branch says,

“My first experience with family history came when during my mission; i was informed that my grandmother whom i loved so much has passed on. It was such a painful experience and initially didn’t know what i would do. She had never had never been able to hear the gospel and join the Church. I was greatly comforted when my mission president arranged for me to have her work done on my way back to Uganda after my Mission in Cape Town, South Africa. “There is just something special that i felt that is hard for me to describe. I knew without any doubt that she had accepted the ordinance when we had it performed for her.

In 2009, as we prepared to go as a family to be sealed in the temple, we took the opportunity to collect as much information. This did not come easy as the culture of record keeping is not good in Africa. A major breakthrough came when my brother managed to convince my Aunt who gave us a book that my grandfather had kept for many years and had a lot of information about our family tree.

Family history has given me so much hope to know that I will see all my loved ones again. The lord not only wants us to live with him but he wants us to be with him in families. Grateful for temples that make this possible."



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