I wish I were older!
Have you ever thought that? You have heard the age requirements to go to the temple: you must be 12 years old to be baptized for the dead, and even older to receive your own endowment, serve a full-time mission, or be married. It seems like a long time before you are the right age to help with temple work.
But there are other things you can do right now, even if you aren’t old enough to be baptized for the dead, serve a mission, or get married.
In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball told Church members:
“All members should write a personal history. …
“I urge all of the people of this church to give serious attention to their family histories … and let no family go into eternity without having left their memoirs (an account of their family) for their children, their grandchildren, and their posterity. … I urge every person to start the children out writing a personal history and journal.” (Ensign, May 1978, page 4.)
Why is it important to keep a journal and do family history work? President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the answer when he said:
“All of our vast family history endeavor (effort) is directed to temple work. There is no other purpose for it. The temple ordinances become the crowning blessings the Church has to offer.” (Ensign, May 1998, page 88.)
When you do family history work or write in your journal, you are helping to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6). As you learn stories about your grandparents and other progenitors (ancestors, forefathers), you see into their hearts and you develop an appreciation for them as real people—as members of your family. As you write about your own life in your journal, you will remember the Lord’s blessings to you, and you will provide an opportunity for your future children and grandchildren to see into your heart.
You can begin doing family history today by talking to, phoning, writing to, or sending e-mails to family members. You can find out about the things that are important to them. You can begin writing your personal history today by starting a journal. Write down the things that are important to you and that will help you and your posterity. (See Journal Page on page 39.)
You can live the commandments and be worthy to go to the temple when you are twelve so that you can be baptized for the dead. You can choose the right each day so that when you are older, you can go to the temple to receive your own endowment. You can continue to live a righteous life and be worthy to return to the temple and do work to help your entire family, including your progenitors, receive the “crowning blessings the Church has to offer.”
Mount page 37 on heavy paper or lightweight cardboard; cut out the three hearts.
Fold the hearts in half, and glue each half to a half of a different heart (see illustration). (Note: If you want to make more than one pendant, make a pattern from the hearts before gluing them.)
Punch holes where indicated. Attach a string to each hole, then tie the strings together over the center of the pendant so that it hangs evenly. Hang the heart where you can see it every day as a reminder to write in your journal.
The Heart of the Children
Turns to Their Fathers.
(See Mal. 4:6.)
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise indicated; GAK = Gospel Art Kit; TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call)
1. To help the children understand the part they play in helping others receive ordinances in the temple, give each child a piece of paper and a paper doll (this can be as simple as an outline of a child). Have him/her write his/her name on the piece of paper, then the name of an ancestor who has passed away (or make up a name) on the paper doll. Let them color the paper doll.
On a wall, place a picture of a child being baptized. Sing “When Jesus Christ Was Baptized” (p. 102). Invite all those who have been baptized to attach their names around the picture. Sing “I Like My Birthdays” (p. 104). Have all those who plan to be baptized add their names to the wall. Explain that people who have died cannot be baptized, so people who are living must be baptized in the temple for them. Tell the children that when they are twelve, if they have a temple recommend, they can be baptized and confirmed for their ancestors and others who have died. Place a picture of a temple baptismal font on the wall. Have the children place their paper dolls around this picture.
Place a picture of a temple on another wall. Explain that in the temple, people receive their endowments (see Sharing Time footnote, Friend, Jan. 2002, p. 30, and Glossary in 2002 Outline for Sharing Time and the CSMP) and also may be sealed to their families.
Sing “I Love to See the Temple” (p. 95). Have the children move their names from the baptism wall to the temple wall as a symbol of their commitment to be worthy to go to the temple when they are old enough. Sing “Truth from Elijah” (pp. 90–91). Have the children take their paper dolls and attach them around the temple picture. Explain that the dolls represent those who have died and cannot go to the temple themselves.
Express gratitude for being able to do temple work for your own ancestors and others who have died. Share with them your feelings about the blessing of having families sealed for eternity.
2. Help the children see how family records assist others in doing family history work. Using the scriptures, have the children fill in a pedigree chart for a Book of Mormon family.
On the chalkboard, draw a seven-generation family tree, following the fathers’ lines. On the child line, write “4 Nephi 1:21.” On the father line, write “4 Nephi 1:19.” On the grandfather line, write “3 Nephi 1:2.” On succeeding-generation father lines, write “Helaman 3:20–21,” “Alma 63:11,” “Alma 31:1, 7,” “Mosiah 27:8.” Cover the references with pieces of paper.
On separate pieces of paper, write “Amos,” “Amos,” “Nephi,” “Helaman,” “Helaman,” “Alma,” “Alma.” Place the names in random order on the walls around the room.
Uncover the first (child) reference. Have the children find the scripture and raise their hands when they know whose name goes on that line. Ask a child to read the verse out loud, then locate one of the “Amos” names and place it on the line over the reference. Sing the first verse of “Book of Mormon Stories” (pp. 118–119). Continue uncovering the references one by one, then reading the scripture aloud and locating the correct name for the pedigree chart. Sing different verses of “Book of Mormon Stories” between each generation. Some of the verses relate directly to the people mentioned on the chart; other verses deal with the approximate time period: Amos, v. 2; Nephi, v. 8; Helaman, v. 7; Helaman, v. 6; Alma, v. 3; Alma, v. 4.
For younger children: Invite seven priesthood holders to dress in simple costumes and role-play the seven generations, starting with Alma. Have each tell a story about the man he represents, if a story is available. (See the scriptures, the backs of GAK pictures, and Primary 4 manual for ideas.) Have the man representing the first Alma hold the Book of Mormon while he tells his story. Upon finishing, he should write his name on the great-great-great-great-grandfather line, then hand the Book of Mormon to his son (Alma) to continue. Repeat this process, with the second Amos testifying of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the knowledge that was passed from father to son. Sing “Book of Mormon Stories” (p. 118).
3. To help children understand the importance of keeping records, prepare a reader’s-theater script (see TNGC, p. 177) of Nephi returning to Jerusalem to get the brass plates from Laban (see 1 Ne. 3–4). Using the scriptures as a guide, include parts for a narrator, Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, an angel, and Zoram. You may wish to delete some verses to help the reader’s theater run smoothly. Keep these key verses: 1 Ne. 3:7, 19–20, 29; 1 Ne. 4:6.
Use simple name tags or costumes to identify each part. Have all the children except the angel read from the script; have the angel read 1 Ne. 3:29 directly from the scripture.
Sing “Nephi’s Courage” (pp. 120–121).
Prepare slips of paper with these references: 1 Nephi 19:heading, 1; Jacob 4:1–4; Alma 37:1–3; Abraham book heading, 1:31; Jer. 30:1–2; Enos 1:1–2, 13, 16; 3 Ne. 5:14–15, 20. Place the slips in a container. On the chalkboard, write these headings: WHO, WHAT, and WHY. Divide the children into seven groups. Have each group choose and read one of the scriptures and report on who kept the record, what was written, and why that person wrote it. Read Omni 1:17 to explain what happens when records are not kept. Explain that one of the most important reasons for keeping records in the Book of Mormon is to testify of Jesus Christ (see 1 Ne. 13:40).
For younger children: Have children give an appropriate dramatization of Moroni’s delivering the plates to Joseph Smith.
4. Invite ward/branch members to visit Primary and share an excerpt from their journals. Older members could read about their childhood; a returned missionary could share a missionary experience; a young woman could tell about a personal-progress goal; a parent could tell of his/her joy at the birth of a child. Have the guests also express their feelings about the value of keeping a journal for themselves as well as for their posterity.
Draw a time line on the chalkboard to reflect various events in your life. Draw hills and valleys to represent good times and bad times, and label them with dates and short explanations. For example, you might draw a hill for the Christmas of 1985, when your grandparents visited, or a valley for the summer of 1990 when a pet died. Bear testimony of the importance of keeping a personal history.
Work with the music leader to sing songs that help the children recall events in their lives. Have them draw a time line in their “The Temple—I’m Going There Someday” booklets, labeling dates and writing simple statements of what occurred at that time. Begin by singing “I Am a Child of God” (pp. 2–3) and have them write the date of their birth and “I am born” at the beginning of the line. Sing songs that represent different ages, such as “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” (pp. 60–61), “Choose the Right Way” (pp. 160–161), “I Will Be Valiant” (p. 162), and songs that represent different times of the year, such as “Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?” (p. 245), “Popcorn Popping” (pp. 242–243), “Once There Was a Snowman” (p. 249), a Christmas song, and a birthday song. Invite the children to help their families make time lines during their family home evenings.
5. Invite a ward family history specialist to explain the importance of doing family history work. Have the specialist demonstrate how to fill out a simple family group sheet. Review the process of filling out a pedigree chart by drawing a four-generation chart on the chalkboard. Choose a child to fill in his/her first name on the child line. Sing “I Am a Child of God” (pp. 2–3). Have the child choose two other children to represent the parents. Use simple costumes or props for the parents, and have them sign their names in the appropriate places. Sing “A Happy Family” (p. 198). Have the children representing parents each choose two children to represent the grandparents; give them simple props to hold or costumes to wear. Have them sign their names on the appropriate lines. Sing “The Hearts of the Children” (pp. 92–93) or “Truth from Elijah” (p. 90). Have each of the grandparents also choose their parents and give them simple props or costumes. Have these great-grandparents sign their names on the chart. Sing “Family History—I Am Doing It” (p. 94).
Give the children family group sheets to take home and fill out with their families. In their “The Temple—I’m Going There Someday” booklets, have the children begin a pedigree chart by writing down their own names and as much information as they know. Express gratitude for the blessings of learning about your ancestors and your desire to be with them eternally.
6. Song presentation: Sing “The Hearts of the Children” (pp. 92–93) or “Family History—I Am Doing It” (p. 94) line by line and have the children suggest appropriate hand actions to help them remember the lyrics, the message, and the feeling of the song. Have them sing the first line and do an action with you. Repeat, using different suggested actions until the children are satisfied that they have decided on the best action to represent the message. Move to the next line and repeat the process until you have actions for the entire song. Note: Hand actions are appropriate for Primary singing and practice but not for the sacrament meeting presentation.
Possible actions for “The Hearts of the Children” might include: place hand over the heart for “hearts of the children”; point upward for “fathers”; hold hands like a book for “prophecy”; wiggle fingers for “family”; and link arms for “sealed.”
Possible actions for “Family History—I Am Doing It” might include: wiggle fingers for “family”; make writing motion for “I am doing it”; place the hand over the heart for “love”; point to self for “me”; hold hands like a book for “stories”; point upward for “progenitors”; make writing motion for “write their history”; and flip pages of a book for “keep records.”
7. Additional Friend resources: Journal Page, each month this year (see Contents page in each issue for page numbers); “My Book of Remembrance,” July 2000, pp. 16–17; “Family Togetherness,” Feb. 2000, p. 23; “Climbing the Family Tree,” June 1999, p. 35; Exploring: “Family Treasures,” Oct. 1999, p. 35; “The Story Quilt,” Jan. 1999, pp. 16–19; Exploring: “A Century of Genealogy,” Mar. 1994, pp. 34–35. See also: “Bridges and Eternal Keepsakes,” Ensign, May 1999, pp. 83–85.