Brazilian Youth Connect Family History, Temple Work

  By Melissa Merrill, Church News and Events

  • 17 May 2012

 During trips to the temple, youth in the Campinas Brazil Temple district participate in FamilySearch indexing between sessions in the baptistery. Pictured, from left to right, are Murillo Mathias Candido Santana, Isabela Andrade Gonçalves, Ana Paula Antunes de Jesus, Virginia Godinho Chagas, Liv Versiani Nery, and Larissa Gonçalves de Mello e Souza.

Article Highlights

  • The director of the family history center adjacent to the Campinas Brazil Temple started inviting visiting youth to participate in indexing when not in the temple. As a result, young people index thousands of names at the center and even more once they return home.

“Prior to the emphasis on getting [young people] involved in family history and indexing, their trip to the temple was mainly for the purpose of being baptized for the dead. Now indexing experiences are becoming part of their work.” —George A. Oakes, Campinas Brazil Temple president

José A. Moscão was noticing a trend: the youth who were coming to the Campinas Brazil Temple had a lot of “down time.”

Brother Moscão, the director of the family history center located adjacent to the Campinas Temple,  knew that because of the distance many youth had to travel to get to the temple, most came in caravans and stayed for several days. The time between their sessions in the baptistry and meals and waiting for their parents and leaders who were participating in other temple ordinances couldn’t be avoided.

But maybe, he thought—or rather, he felt—he could offer the youth an alternative to wandering the temple grounds whenever they had some free time.

So he did.

An Invitation

When he noticed youth outside the temple, he began inviting them into the center and offered to teach them how to do FamilySearch indexing.

At first some were shy or a little reluctant. But Brother Moscão said that when he spoke to them of rescuing people from darkness and bringing to light their names in obedience to the words of a living prophet, the youth were touched.

The fact that the temple and the family history center are located within the same facility is significant; it underscores in a physical way that temple and family history work are two parts of one great effort. That, said George A. Oakes, Campinas Brazil Temple president, is something that the youth in the temple district are coming to learn.

“Prior to the emphasis on getting them involved in family history and indexing, their trip to the temple was mainly for the purpose of being baptized for the dead. Now indexing experiences are becoming part of their work,” he said.

“I believe that if all the youth of the Church would get involved in indexing and family history for a few minutes each day, they would also catch the same spirit that these Brazilian young people take with them after their visit to the temple.”

An Introduction

When youth come into the center, Brother Moscão and the missionaries volunteering at the center—there are a total of 16 who serve in different shifts during the week—cover the following in a brief, informal orientation. (Brother Moscão says that introducing youth to the spiritual aspects of the program before the technical ones helps set the tone for the experience.)

  • They are becoming saviors on mount Zion (see Obadiah 1:21).
  • They are heeding the call of a prophet (see David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn”).
  • They are rescuing people from darkness—the darkness of long-forgotten films and the dusty books of registry offices and churches. Indexing brings those names to light and makes them searchable so that families can find them and participate in temple work on their forebears’ behalf.
  • In joining this work, they will be participating in another aspect of “the most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead” (D&C 128:17).
  • They will be using their time in the great work of redeeming the dead, a work that blesses families.
  • All of us are part of the family of God, and in indexing the names of people they do not know, they are still helping their family. And besides, Brother Moscão points out, perhaps someone else in the world is doing the same thing for them and indexing the names of their relatives.
  • Once they understand how to participate in indexing, they have an opportunity to teach their family members and other young people in their wards and branches to participate too.

After teaching the youth a little bit about the doctrine behind indexing and explaining the concept of it, Brother Moscão and the missionaries then use the center’s six computers to show teens how to get started indexing and how to install and use the software once they get home. Once they understand, Brother Moscão said, they “begin to index with a force like no other.”

An Enthusiasm for the Work

The numbers reflect that enthusiasm. In the first two months of 2012, visitors indexed 6,370 names; 3,305 of those were indexed by youth ages 12 to 18. In fact, to accommodate the growing interest in indexing, the Campinas family history center often extends its regular hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and stays open as late as 10:00 p.m.

But the youth aren’t leaving indexing behind when they leave the temple. When they get home, they continue their role in what Brother Moscão calls “the army of more than 170,000 active indexers that the Church has today.”

12-year-old Liv Versiani Nery of Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, is among them. Her hometown is some 16 hours away from the temple, and she learned how to index at the Campinas Temple Family History Center. She went at the invitation of her friend Larissa Mello, and although she had never heard of indexing before—let alone tried it—she learned quickly. She was invited to tell other youth about her experience during one of the baptism sessions later in the week, and by the time she left Campinas, Liv had indexed 160 records.

Today, Liv continues to do indexing from home. She has talked about indexing with her neighbor, who is of another faith, and told her what a positive experience it has been for her; the neighbor has “responded enthusiastically,” Liv said.

Liv also regularly seeks out her ward family history director for additional guidance and has subsequently shared what she has learned with other youth in the stake.

“You feel a very sweet spirit when you’re indexing,” Liv said. “I really love doing it. I have learned that it is a work of the Lord and that even though I’m helping people I do not know, they are still children of Heavenly Father. It is a very rewarding work.”

Lúcia Monferron Pires has served as a missionary in the Campinas Brazil Temple Family History Center since April 2011. Although she enjoys working with and helping all patrons at the center, she sees something special about the youth.

“I fully agree with what Elder David A. Bednar taught about young people being prepared for this work,” said Sister Monferron. “They were born at a propitious time for this and are agile in understanding the process for both the technological and spiritual aspects of family history. They respond promptly and positively, and they enjoy the feeling that comes from helping the Church and being part of a worldwide group that performs such an important work.”

A Transformation

The youth continue working from computers at home, at school, or at their local family history center (those who live close enough might come back to the center adjacent to the temple), and they’re inviting their peers to join them. Many are meeting goals for Duty to God and Personal Progress with their indexing work. Brother Moscão said that many have reported to him that they’re now using time they previously used surfing the Web, playing games on their cell phones and videogame consoles, and watching TV to do more indexing.

Sister Monferron said she has received messages from youth who tell her how happy they are to participate in this work of helping others find their ancestors and perform ordinances in their behalf.

“Young people become more responsible with the work of the temple when they are indexing,” she suggested. “I feel privileged to see them and their feelings for the gospel transform. It makes me want to learn more and improve myself to the betterment of all who attend the temple family history center.”

Those who serve at the Campinas Brazil Temple Family History Center are preparing for the youth to come. Now they coordinate with stake and district leadership in advance to have the youth come to the temple already having some knowledge of indexing. That, Brother Moscão hopes, will enhance the effort and make the time spent in the center even more effective.

An Influence for Good

The youth of the Campinas Temple district are already making a significant difference.

Earlier this year, Isabela Andrade Gonçalves, 16, of Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil, traveled with her mother and sister to the temple; the last day of the trip was the one-year anniversary of her grandmother’s death. Isabela was baptized for her grandmother, and her mother performed the other temple ordinances.

“I felt during this trip that I needed to do something good,” explained Isabela. “I wanted to learn to index, and I received help from Brother José Moscão.

“Then, when I was performing the baptism for my grandmother, the spirit touched me deeply. I realized there were many people beyond the veil waiting endlessly, and they needed my help. I realized I could give a bit of my time to serve and that I could do a lot for these people. Indexing is a labor of love.”

A small magnet that says, “Have you indexed today?” reminds Isabela of the importance of that labor. “We young people of the Church have the privilege of serving in the mission of the Church,” she said. “I prefer to index rather than to do something that does not bring me satisfaction or that does not contribute to my spiritual growth. … It is rewarding to be an instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father.”

Alexandra Malfatti had never participated in indexing before she became a family history center missionary in September 2010. But she learned quickly. And she discovered that the youth she teaches learn quickly too. “The technology is already in their DNA,” she said.

“Because they are young, they are eager to learn,” she explained. “The young people who come to the temple are very special. They want to be useful to the Lord. And they are amazed to find out how easy it is to understand the program.”

The lesson for adults, particularly those who may be working with youth in family history work, is to “believe in young people!” she said. “They are able to help in the work of the Lord. … The youth of the Church are special, and they are prepared. We must believe in their potential.”