(Thanks to Mary Beth Thomas, sixth person in from the right, in blue, who co-authored this article.)
When Mary Beth Thomas, of Orem, Utah, U.S.A., left her bishop’s office, she wasn’t sure what to make of her new calling. “I wanted a calling I could fulfill and magnify,” she says. Family history consultant was the very last calling she could imagine herself doing, let alone “magnifying,” in a singles ward.
Putting aside her uncertainty, she decided to give it a try. But, she didn’t know where to even begin. She turned first to the missionaries in her stake family history center. After one appointment with them Mary Beth left completely overwhelmed. Even the beginning steps of the work appeared difficult. If she couldn’t grasp the work, she wondered how she would be able to help others find success.
Pressing on, she decided to give her calling a chance. Three people attended the first activity that she planned for her ward, and the second had a similar turnout. Efforts to engage her ward members appeared to be ineffective and there was little support from her priesthood leaders. Mary Beth was left unsure about what to do next after her futile attempts.
Then, the bishop who called her was released. Shortly after, Mary Beth found herself in ward council where her new bishop, after considering the needs of the ward, counseled members to “remove the rocks in your calling.” These “rocks in your shoes,” he said, were any bothersome experiences, memories, associations or prejudices that they were carrying that prevented them from fulfilling their callings. Mary Beth quickly recognized the “rocks” that were holding her back. Setting the technical aspects aside she was determined to start anew. She began focusing on the blessings of family history that were available to her fellow ward members. “I couldn’t just stand by and let them miss out [on those blessings],” she says. “Letting go of my past experiences and trusting [that] this [was] where God called me to serve at this time is when doors started opening up and revelation began to flow specific to my calling.”
Mary Beth, with the support of her priesthood leaders, extended a challenge to her ward: find one family name to bring to the temple within the next three months. “Priesthood [support] is huge,” and she says it makes all the difference within a ward or stake. Over thirty ward members successfully accomplished this challenge and attended the temple together with their family names. It was during this challenge that Mary Beth found her first family name. “To take your own name to the temple changes your perspective of the temple,” she says. “It makes it about them…it makes them a [real] person [to you]…[and] it helps you understand you are part of something much bigger than yourself…you feel how much God loves each one of his children.”
From that point on, Mary Beth saw changes in her ward and in her own life. She felt the support of her ancestors on the other side of the veil and has seen the impact of the spirit of Elijah on the individual lives of several of her ward members. As she fulfilled her calling, Mary Beth noticed a group of less active young adults in her ward, and invited them to index records on FamilySearch.org. One of them was a young man that hadn’t regularly attended church in at least five years. Even though he didn’t have a temple recommend, she reached out to him to find a name for temple work. It was this small invitation, and his participation in the work that followed, that lead to his reactivation. Mary Beth says that he still bears his testimony about it.
Mary Beth found ways to magnify her calling, just as she had desired in her bishop’s office so many months earlier. In the process, by removing the “rocks” that were in her shoes, Mary Beth’s efforts as a consultant have filled her life with opportunities to receive blessings and to bless thousands of others on both sides of the veil.
This is the first in a series of articles that will highlight stories of inspiration from family history consultants around the world. Let us know if you have a success story or a testimony building experience with family history. Email your story to email@example.com. We may contact you about using it on FamilySearch!
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