On Jan. 24 a girls group called LDS Activity Days invited their grandparents to come and regale them with stories of the past at the LDS Family History Center in Moab. The girls recorded the stories into an online database called FamilySearch so these stories of the past can be accessed by future generations.
“Family history is more than just a hobby for the church. We believe that families can be forever,” explained center director Raymon Carling.
An intrinsic part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, family research is facilitated at LDS Family History Centers across the country.
“Our goal is to organize the whole human family into fathers and sons and daughters and tie them all together,” continued Carling. “[We] do research on families, and connect families together.” These centers are not just for the church, though. “We invite anyone that’s interested to come in and we’ll help them with their family history,” Carling added.
Emily Johnson decided to use this center to help a group of girls in Moab connect with their grandparents through their family history. The group she leads, LDS Activity Days, is a program for girls aged eight to eleven to learn about the gospel, serve others and develop talents.
“One of the things they need to do is hear stories from their grandparents,” Johnson explained of the requirement of the program. “So, we went to the history center and they invited their grandparents.”
Using the FamilySearch program, the girls were able to record the stories told by their grandparents and upload them directly to their family history account. The recording will be preserved online with the storyteller’s profile, accessible by future generations.
“It was kind of cute to see the grandchildren finagle the smart phone and the grandparents tell their stores,” Johnson said. “It bridged a generational gap.”
“It’s just kind of fun because you feel like the generations are starting to connect,” said Wynette Hawks, a volunteer at the center. Hawks was a presenter and facilitator of the event, and her daughter Whytney was a participant. “We have a close family and Whytney gets to spend lots of time with her grandmother, but we don’t often share stories with her grandmother, so it was fun to experience that. [Whytney’s grandmother] talked about why she loved spending time with her grandmother and things that they did together,” added Hawks.
Hawks was also struck by a couple of stories from other grandparents in attendance. One woman shared that “her father came across the ocean from England when he was four years old, and his father played the harp, and she had a picture she brought that day of him with the harp,” Hawks said. “And then there was another grandpa that was there, and he talked about how his father actually dug the grave of his father when he was 18 years old on Christmas day.”
Now that the girls have recorded the stories told by their grandparents on Jan. 24, they will be accessible to future generations online. “I think all families have stories like this, but I think we forget to sit down and share them like this,” Hawks added. “If we don’t share them and store them those stories are going to be lost.”
“I think years ago when people started to do family history it was really overwhelming, but now it’s so easy,” Johnson said — and she hopes since the girls have experience using the program, they will return to the center and record more of their family history.
“It was so cool to watch the grandparents and the kids use what they had and communicate,” she added. “It made the girls feel special, and I’m sure it made the grandparents feel special.”
To Carling, the event summed up the importance of collecting family histories. “There’s power in those stories and those pictures and the memories, that’s why I feel so close to them,” Carling said. “We hope they pass this on to their kids and try to get them interested in it and appreciate their ancestors.”
The Moab LDS Family History Center is located at 300 South 100 East and is open Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. The center can be reached by telephone at 435-259-5563.