4 Reasons Why Every RM Will Want to Do Family History

October 28, 2015  - by 

In his April 2015 general conference talk, Elder M. Russell Ballard told Church members that “RM” does not stand for “retired Mormon.” He continued, “Balance your life with spiritual experiences that remind and prepare you for continued, daily ministering to others” (“The Greatest Generation of Young Adults,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 69). One simple way to invite these spiritual experiences is by participating in family history. Here are some ways family history will help every returned missionary retain a good spiritual edge.

1. Promised Protection

Elder David A. Bednar made this promise: “As you respond in faith to this invitation [to do family history]… your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 26–27).

These goals are likely near the top of every returned missionary’s list. Missionaries who want always to retain the spiritual feelings they felt on their missions will find that researching and taking the names of their ancestors to the temple is a powerful way to invite the Spirit.

2. Self-Discovery

After two years of trying to forget myself as a missionary, it took me a long time to get to know and be comfortable with myself again. Many returned missionaries struggle as they seek to understand their place in society. When I started exploring my family history, I not only discovered my ancestors but I rediscovered myself. I saw their pictures. I read what other people had to say about them and what they had to say about their lives. These experiences were just what I needed to reconnect with who I was and what I could become.

3. Continued Service

Missionaries live a life steeped in service. Family history is all about service of the highest order. In fact, it is very much like missionary work because it leads people to the waters of baptism and other essential ordinances. Truly there is no better place for a returned missionary to be than in the temple serving deceased ancestors. Through family history and temple work, returned missionaries are able to continue their ministry and feel the power of the Atonement as they make covenants available to those who have gone before.

There is also a way to serve the living through family history work. It’s called indexing. Indexing is the process that makes historical records searchable on FamilySearch.org. The indexing work of thousands of volunteers powers the FamilySearch.org search engine so people can find their ancestors. Indexing is simple, even for technology-deprived recently returned missionaries. Consider yourself called to serve the world!

4. Keep Up Foreign Language Skills

While we are talking about indexing, you should know that there is a huge opportunity and an even greater need for indexing in various languages. If you or someone you know speaks a second language, this is an opportunity to stay familiar with the language and feel close to the people. Right now, there is a large deficit of indexed records in languages other than English, especially Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. By indexing in your mission language or another language, you will be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of those you served.

Whether you are indexing or doing your own family history, the Lord has promised to bless you as you make the effort to continue in service to His children.

Do you know any RMs who could benefit from this? Pass it on!


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  1. You say that indexing is simple even for technology deprived recently returned missionaries. What about us techno/ challenged old men? There was, not too long ago, a big push for indexing. We were all asked to pitch in and help index millions of names. I am glad the goal was reached, but I was unable to do my part. I just couldn’t get the hang of it.

    1. Estil Townsend, get help from a family history consultant or a family member (a patient youngster) Also, make sure to start with the easy batches. You might have to look around (make sure to pick level 1’s), but you can find records that are typed and easy to read.

  2. I know very little about my families except my own mother and dad a a brother they both had and that is about all I know.
    No living relatives now. no dates.