A Family Affair

By Tiffany Tolman

Traits tend to run in families—facial features, hair color, an artistic flare. But for Elder Ken and Sister Kathy Virgin, the family trait is a love for family history. It all began several generations ago, when ancestors on both sides of their family tree joined the Church and developed a love for temple service and sealing families together eternally. That love trickled down through the family, until both Elder and Sister Virgin inherited boxes of family history records from their parents, along with a desire to continue the work.

Now this love for family history has translated into missionary service for the Virgins and their family. The two are no strangers to serving missions. Before they were married, Sister Virgin sent letters and encouragement to Elder Virgin as he served in the Eastern States Mission as a young man. Later they served a full-time Church Educational System mission in Portland, Oregon. It was on a full-time mission together in the Nauvoo Illinois Temple that Elder Virgin put his skills to work as a family history consultant, which prepared the couple for their current mission.

Now in their eighties, Elder and Sister Virgin live comfortably at home, with most of their children and grandchildren close by, as they serve as Church-service missionaries in the Orange County Regional Family History Center in California.

But that’s not where the service ends for their family.

Many of their children have served as family history consultants over the years. And their daughter, Sister Cheri Haggard, is currently a Church-service missionary in Worldwide FamilySearch Support for the Family History Department. Not only does she love her current mission—one she is serving while working part-time—but she sees it as the perfect training for the full-time mission she plans to serve with her husband when he retires in a few years.

And that love for family history has continued in the next generation: Sister Haggard’s daughter, who is serving a full-time mission in Albania, has started a weekly family history group as part of her missionary service.

When asked why they are serving their Church-service missions, particularly with family history, the Virgins and Sister Haggard were quick to share their thoughts. After sharing some personal stories about how family history has blessed the lives of others, Sister Haggard sums it up well. With considerable emotion, she says, “Family history work is for the dead.” And then, after a pause, she continues, “But it’s really for the living.” As she has worked with others on their family history, both as a consultant and now as a Church-service missionary, she has gained a greater understanding of and appreciation for the Savior’s Atonement and His power to draw us together and heal us.

Brother Virgin agrees. “I can’t imagine anything more spiritual for a person than to go on a Church-service mission,” he says. He and Sister Virgin have seen miracles happen through their selfless service. And those miracles haven’t only been for those they have served in the family history center. They have witnessed miracles and blessings in their own family, including passing that love for family history on to future generations and watching all their grandchildren enter the temple with names of their own to bind their family together eternally.

If you would like to enjoy the blessings of serving a Church-service mission, possibly with other members of your family, explore opportunities today.