40-Day Challenge inspires youth on family history journey
The Spirit of Elijah was kindled in youth from Adelaide’s Firle Stake who recently embarked on a family journey of a different kind as they took part in a 40-day family history and temple challenge.
The ‘40-Day Challenge’ - issued by Firle Stake President Rainer Korte – aimed to have 40 youth in 40 days find at least one ancestor whose name they could take to the Adelaide Temple to begin their saving ordinances.
It was a great experience for the youth who worked alongside family members, youth leaders and family history specialists to make the ancestor discoveries that achieved the target of 40 youth and exceeded many times over the target of preparing at least one family name to take to the temple.
The challenge culminated in two special youth baptism sessions on Saturday, 10 May.
Firle Ward’s Jarom Kelly turned 12 less than two weeks before the challenge ended, and he was excited to have a family name to take with him for his first time serving at the temple.
“I was baptised for an ancestor whose name was passed on to my great-grandfather, Papa Bill, so it felt special to be able to do that,” Jarom said.
Morialta Ward’s Jareson Barnes, 13, also was excited about the ancestors he found during the challenge.
“My mum helped me and she wasn’t sure that we would find even one ancestor because my grandmas are both keen family historians who’ve been doing the research for a long time – but we found 36!” Jareson said.
“On the day of the temple visit I was baptised for my great, great, great, great grandfather and some of his family. It felt good to be able to do the temple work for three of my family members and I’m going back to the temple soon on behalf of the other ancestors.
“I’ve really enjoyed our stake’s 40-day youth challenge.”
Many of the youth said their experiences at the temple were the highlight of the challenge.
For Jareson’s sister Emeri, 11, temple service is something she has to look forward to but meanwhile she has joined in another family history endeavour that benefits church members and the family-tree-tracing public alike – online indexing or digitizing of genealogical data.
Emeri spends about an hour each Sunday on indexing, which involves entering information from historical, mostly handwritten documents into an easy to read format on a searchable online database.
Not only has she set the goal to reach a personal tally of 5000 entries, but she is also about to share the how-to of indexing at a Primary activity night with the help of her father, Jared, who encouraged his two eldest children in this family history involvement as a great way to serve.
LDS indexing-volunteers of all ages have added more than one billion searchable records to the church’s free family history website, Family Search.org, in the past eight years.
More than four million of the records were indexed by Australian volunteers, boosting an LDS legacy that began in 1894 of dedicating time and resources to collecting and sharing genealogical records.
Eliza Hansford, 15, of the Firle Ward, said she was inspired by the time and effort that goes into supporting family history and temple work, and ensuring everyone - no matter when they lived on earth – can receive their temple blessings.
“My parents have always been excited about genealogy, and it’s good that we can work on this together as a family and that I can do my part,” said Eliza, who was proxy for two great-aunts who had been overlooked for ordinances previously.
President Korte said the 40-Day Challenge unified and blessed the overall stake as well as the youth participants: “What a wonderful experience we had in the temple at the culmination of the 40-day challenge. I felt privileged to serve in the House of the Lord with our youth. I felt the Spirit, it was wonderful, and I encourage all of us, youth and adults, to continue to put a priority on the temple and preparing ancestor names for temple ordinances.”
He said the focus on family history and finding and remembering ancestors would be continued in the upcoming community event, ‘Meet the Ancestors’, to be hosted by the Firle Stake on 9 August. The event will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI through stories and presentations about ancestors from that era.