Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Your Fascinating History


James E. Faust
From an October 2003 general conference address.

Your Fascinating History

Photograph by Busath Photography

President Faust teaches that finding your ancestors can be one of the most interesting puzzles you work on.

Picture with me a little six-year-old orphan girl traveling across the plains of America. Her name is Elsie Ann. Her mother died when she was two. Her father remarried, and so for a time she had a stepmother. Then her father died at Winter Quarters when she was five. Her stepmother remarried and moved away, leaving this little orphan behind with Peter and Selina Robison, who were related to her stepmother. Elsie Ann left Winter Quarters with the Robisons in July of 1849 to come west. She no doubt ached for the love of her own mother. Sometimes she would even ask, “Where is my mother?” Elsie Ann was my great-grandmother.

My grandparents have had a great influence on my life. Even though they have been dead for many years, I still feel their love. One grandfather, James Akerley Faust, died before I was born. I knew him only through the stories my grandmother and my parents told about him. However, I feel a strong kinship with him because I am in part what he was. Among other things, he was a cowboy, a rancher, and a postmaster in a small town in central Utah. On one occasion Grandfather took a trip in the winter to Idaho, where he met an acquaintance who had fallen on hard times. It was cold, and Grandfather’s friend had no coat. Grandfather took off his coat and gave it to him.

I encourage you to begin to unlock the knowledge of who you really are by learning more about your forebears. They were very real, living people with problems, hopes, and dreams like we have today. The virtues they had may be our virtues, their strengths our strengths, and in a way their challenges could be our challenges. Some of their traits may be our traits. I noticed a while ago that one of my great-grandsons, a toddler, seemed to have an interesting kind of a walk. My wife said, “He walks just like you do!” Now I wonder from whom I inherited this characteristic.

Each of us has a fascinating family history. Finding your ancestors can be one of the most interesting puzzles you can work on. It can be more fascinating than any movie or any computer game.

Because this is a very spiritual work, we can expect help from the other side of the veil. We feel a pull from our relatives who are waiting for us to find them so their temple ordinance work can be done. This is a Christlike service because we are doing something for them that they cannot do for themselves.

[photos] Inset: Photograph by Matthew Reier, posed by model; historical photograph by Hulton Archive/Getty Images, may not be copied