9:15 am (Fri)
When I was a child one of my favorite experiences with my family was when we would go to the country. Dad would fill the car tank with gas and we’d drive to Freetown, Manchester. I loved my Grandpa the most — he’d take us on a donkey ride through the community and introduce us to grandaunts, granduncles and distant cousins who’d always be eager to wrap us in a bear hug and kiss our cheeks. I loved those times despite the motion sickness syndrome that would result in my sisters and I throwing up several times on the way to country. Times like those cemented in my mind why families were most important.
Perhaps it was my love of family that helped me feel connected to the message missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared with my sister and I back in 2005. Two missionaries were walking through my community and met my sister who agreed when they offered to return two days later on May 15th. They taught us that happy families were central to God’s plan for us; that God was in fact our Father, the very Father of our spirits (Hebrew 12:9; Acts 17:28-29). They taught that by living the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we could be with our families beyond this life. I studied the Book of Mormon, a book they claimed to be scripture like the Bible. I pondered and prayed about their message and subsequently felt a sweet peace settle in my heart, a witness to me that their words were true.
Their message sparked an interest in recording family history. I felt an urge to learn more about my ancestors and live my life in a way that would make my posterity proud.
But their were stumbling blocks on the way as I tried to find out about ancestors like my maternal grandfather, John Costa. My grandmother never met him until she was an adult and hardly had a relationship with him but despite our challenges we’ve been able to find out much about his siblings, parents and grandparents by using familysearch.org.
As I’ve been using the site this past week I’ve seen God’s hand working in my midst. I’ve overcome what felt like roadblocks years ago. Several marriage, death, birth certificates and baptismal records have provided new insight into the lives of those who’ve helped to shape me — those who in their own way helped mark the way before me.
I feel like I know them much better now and hold in my heart immense gratitude to them. I know it might be strange since I’ve never met them but there is something very sanctifying about this work. When we come to know those who’ve gone before us, I really believe we’ll live our life with greater gratitude and a newfound sense of purpose and being.
It makes me realise how many privileges I enjoy as a resident of the 21st century — a time that though fraught with strife is full of opportunities for enriching lives and happy families. I hope we’ll all try to learn about our ancestors. In doing so, may we find greater joy in each day, knowing that we are paving the way for generations to come.