I don’t know if its too terribly nice for the Spirit of Elijah to come when you are about to birth a baby, move to another country, and sell everything you own. But I took it when it came because boy I would have been in trouble if I had not. I didn’t do any work to produce names to work on in the temple. I just did some work to strengthen my connection with my ancestors. Ancestors that still are alive and going strong, my grandparents. I wanted to get to know them deeper and have more of a connection. I worked on creating a family history with pictures and answers to questions that spoke to me. And also that I thought would speak to my siblings and my girls.
I interviewed them for a couple of months, set of questions by set of questions through email. I divided their life up into sections (childhood, teen, mission age, college age, newlywed, career, young parents, busy parents, parents with teenagers, becoming a grandparent, etc.) Then I took those sections and tried to think that if I or someone I loved was smack dab in the middle of teenage life or newlywed life what they would want to know. What they would ask to help them through the storm. Or to make them smile. I tried to ask questions that showed their personality, made them open up, etc. I love little details so I asked things that what was your favorite smell growing up? What was a family recipe that you always looked forward to your mother making? Things like that. I also included a lot of religious questions; favorite hymns, tips on dealing with tough callings, etc.
I sent my sister to go collect pictures, pictures from each “time zone” of their life. And pictures with PERSONALITY to them! She came back with a flash drive full of them.
Most importantly was that I asked them to write their testimony on a piece of paper so I could scan their handwriting (which holds such memories!) of their written testimony. I also sent my dad to record them reading their testimony.
Then I put everything on flash drives and took it with me to Costa Rica. It didn’t get done, I ignored the urgency to get it done. Then my computer was stolen and it couldn’t be done. As soon as I bought a new computer when we returned it was the first thing on my mind. So I stayed up a few nights in a row and got it done. I didn’t do anything fun at night, didn’t update my blog, anything, until it was done.
I created a book online that had the questions, their answers, their pictures, and scans of their written testimonies in it. It kept the embellishments and design simple:
Then I made a video to go along with it. In the background I have my grandmother’s favorite hymn playing. The pictures from the book are in the video. And then I have the recording of their testimonies playing the loudest in the video. It was really simple to make:
Gparentswillden from Vanessa Brown on Vimeo.
I sent it to all my aunts and uncles who loved it. Then I sent it to my 30 or so cousins and didn’t hear a peep. From any of them. It actually got my an un-friending from one of them. But you know, that is okay. I am the oldest cousin by quite a bit and probably the only one that knows that this is important. And one day when they are older, I’ll show them the book and the video again. And I am sure they will love it and be thankful for it. Don’t be discouraged if you work on a family history project that no one seems to appreciate. Everyone is in a different spot on their lives.
I hope to somehow create something like this for my other side, but both of my grandparents have passed away. Please please please, ask these questions while your sweet grandparents are still alive.
So glad I listened and got this done. My sweet grandparents were so touched, it made me so happy to see them like that.
You know why I think this is so important? Feeling connected to your ancestors? I know that I have a string of women that look out for me, root for me, lift me up, watch out for my girls. And they are women from my family lines. I feel their strength all the time. And I love that some of them I can picture in my mind, see their faces, know the struggles and triumphs that went on in their lives. Because then I can gain even more from them.
“I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.
As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.”
Elder Bednar’s full talk geared towards the youth to urge them to turn to the Spirit of Elijah can be found here.