by Kathryn Grant
If you think that the FamilySearch Tree and Memories mobile apps are fun, on-the-go tools for family history, you’re right. But did you know that these apps also provide an appealing way to prepare personalized lessons and work one-on-one with others?
Bob and Rena Croft serve as area temple and family history consultants in Billings, Montana, in the United States. They use the mobile apps almost exclusively in their family history work. They’re finding that the apps make family history accessible and relevant for the people they help—perhaps for the first time.
Here are some ways the Crofts use the mobile apps to engage others in family history, both adults and youth.
Help People Fit Family History in Their Busy Schedules
- After the Crofts taught a mother of young children how to use the mobile app, she commented with emotion, “I can do family history while I’m at a doctor’s appointment or lesson or sporting event. I’m so glad that I can do it wherever I am in these small moments of time.”
- The Crofts encourage people to use the descendant task list to process record hints, which often lead to names for temple work. One sister, a busy Relief Society president and emergency care nurse, accepted the challenge to process several hints each day. She did this during her breaks at work. Not only did she find people to take to the temple, but her co-workers began asking questions, which resulted in missionary opportunities.
After a temple session, she texted the Crofts: “Two couples sealed together and 11 children sealed to their parents today! I love finding my own ancestors and doing their work for them. Thanks for teaching me how to do this!”
Teach Ward and Stake Leaders
- The Crofts always try to have a one-on-one family history experience with stake presidents and bishops before meeting with them in an official capacity. They’ve also helped these priesthood leaders as they in turn have taught their counselors.
- The mobile app is helping leaders at all levels become self-sufficient in finding family names to add to the tree. “We feel we need to be part of the law of the harvest, not just the harvest,” said Brother Croft. “People are used to finding green temples. They need to know how to add new people to the tree so they can be self-sufficient and provide names for their families.”
Help Beginners Get Started
- When someone’s tree has few or no family members, the Crofts use the booklet My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together. They help the person gather information, encouraging him or her to contact family members as needed. Then they help the person enter names for the first four generations in the Tree mobile app so temple work can be done.
Teach Children to Love Family History
- The Crofts have also used the Memories mobile app to engage children in family history. Children love photos, and many already have family photos on their devices. Older children also enjoy using features such as speech-to-text for stories.
- The Crofts’ two grandsons, ages 10 and 11, know how to use the descendant task list on a tablet. In fact, when the Crofts did training with the stake presidency and high council, their grandsons were the ones helping the stake president and his counselors.
The Crofts are quick to point out the role of the Spirit in using the apps. “The Spirit is an important part of this process,” they said. “Both the Holy Ghost and the ancestors on the other side help us find places where we can have success with these families.”
The FamilySearch mobile apps are enabling family history in wonderful ways as youth and adults use them to help people gather their families.