Lesson Helps

FHE: Family History

FHE: Family History

Conference Talk:
For more information on this topic read “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn” by Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, Nov 2011, 24.

The Spirit of Elijah affects people inside and outside of the Church. However, as members of Christ’s restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel.

(Elder David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn” Ensign, Nov 2011, 24.)

“Family History—I Am Doing It,” Children’s Songbook, p. 94.

And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
(Joseph Smith—History 1:39)

Give each person in the family a paper and a pencil or pen.

Instruct the family members to write your family name at the top of the sheet of paper. Then tell them to draw a picture with as many items in it as there are letters in your name, each item being something that begins with one of the letters of your name. Their pictures are not complete until they have used all the letters of your name.

When everyone has finished a picture, one person shows his to the rest of the family. The family tries to identify the items in the picture. Continue until each drawing has been reviewed.

Explain to the family that just as their pictures were not complete without all the items, neither is the family complete without all of its members. Each picture was different, just as each letter is different from the rest. So it is with the family. Each family is different and so is each member of each individual family. Each family member has special gifts to offer to the rest of the family.

Have all the family members write on the back of their pictures the names of each person in the family. Remind them that there are other members of the family that they don’t know. These family members lived before them, and they are important too.

Did you see the news story about the teacher who found an old cigar box in her attic? When she opened it she saw that it was full of old papers. She was about to toss it into the trash when she noticed the word stock on one of the papers. Upon further inspection she discovered that the box was filled with old stock certificates. Just for fun she had their value assessed.

You guessed it: instant millionaire.

“I don’t imagine my life will be all that much different,” she said after banking her newfound fortune. “I may buy some new shoes. Other than that, I won’t be making many changes.”

Personally, I think wealth is wasted on such people. What’s the point of being suddenly prosperous if you’re not going to allow yourself to suddenly . . . you know . . . prosper?

I know I would. I know this because I’ve been thinking about it all week—or at least since my dad’s wife, Jean, called to tell me about a box she found while spring cleaning.

“There are some real treasures in these boxes,” she said. “You ought to have them.”

“Treasures?” I asked. “What sort of treasures?”

“Oh, you know—jewelry, certificates, a little money, and there are some metals that are absolutely precious.”

Jewelry? Certificates? Money? Precious metals? And she wants to give them to me?


Unlike the teacher in the news story, I could come up with plenty of ideas for improving my life once those treasures made their way into my bank account. Most involved quitting my job and buying a Winnebago. By the time I got the box from Jean, I had already imagined myself back and forth across the country and all the way to Hawaii (with and without the Winnebago, respectively).

In the privacy of my car, I carefully opened the black jewelry box. Inside, it was just as she had promised: jewelry, certificates, money and precious metals. Only the jewelry was costume jewelry in brilliant blues, reds and aquamarines. The certificates included my mother’s high school diploma. The money was an English penny. And the precious “metals” were actually precious medals, including one awarded to my great-grandfather for being an “Indian War Veteran” and another presented to my great- great-grandfather for helping to pioneer the American West.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I was disappointed at first. There was nothing of any value here—unless you counted sentimental value. But the more I studied the stuff in the box, the more like a treasure it seemed to be. And the more like a mystery. What did my great-grandmother’s garish red rhinestone broach tell me about the personality of a woman I never met? Am I the only one in the family who will be surprised to learn that Mom graduated from high school in Denver? Who wore the dangly blue pendant and why did it smell—vaguely but distinctively—of turpentine? And what about the cool reading spectacles? What was the deal with those?

I’m not exactly sure where to look for the answers to these questions. But we’re going to have a lot of fun trying to find them. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying this wonderful sense of connection as I handle and admire objects that were obviously cherished by my ancestors. It makes me feel grounded. It makes me feel like I belong. It makes me feel like I’m part of something that extends beyond the here and now. And that feeling is something I value and treasure.

Regardless of the value of the treasure in the box.

(Joseph Walker, Look What Love Has Done, [Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2007], p. 9.)

Go to createfan.com to create a beautiful version of your family tree. You’ll need to sign in with your lds.org sign-in information, then click “create.” As you look at it, discuss the ancestors you know, discover some of the most common names in your family tree, and notice which lines need more information.

Devil’s Food Cake

1⁄3 cup shortening
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
2⁄3 cup cocoa
1⁄2 cup hot water
2 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar together; add eggs. In a small bowl, beat cocoa in hot water until smooth; add to creamed mixture. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Add vanilla and beat well.

Fill cups one-half to three-fourths full. If the cupcakes are filled a little fuller, they will crown better. (Crowning is the rounded dome that forms when the cupcake is baking.) Bake 18 to 24 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of a cupcake. It should come out clean with no crumbs attached. Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes.

(Lion House Cakes and Cupcakes, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011], p. 21.)

Check out these great "how-to's" for family history:

"{LDS How-to} Jumpstart Your Family History"

"{LDS How-to} Write a Family History Worth Reading"

"{LDS How-to} Conduct a Family History Interview"

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