"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
January 06, 2016
The Learn Part of "Find, Take, Teach"
by Kathryn Grant

In one of my favorite Christmas movies, “A Season for Miracles,” Emilie is talking to Mitch, the mechanic who’s fixing her old broken-down car. Anxious to get the car back and be on her way, she tells him, “It doesn’t have to be perfect—it just has to start and go.”

Mitch replies with a smile, “There’s a lot that goes into that ‘start-and-go’ business.”

In 2015, FamilySearch began emphasizing a new approach to help members become more involved in family history. You may have heard of it: “Find, Take Teach.” Find your own family names, take them to the temple, and then teach others to do the same.

The approach is memorable and brilliantly simple. Start and go. But as we put that approach into practice, there’s a risk of oversimplifying or assuming we see the whole picture when we really don’t.

In this case, a key aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the process of learning how to find valid family names in the first place. Learning is implied in the find-take-teach cycle, of course—the person who finds, takes, and then teaches others is presumed to have learned correct principles themselves. But that doesn’t always happen.

So how can we be sure we’ve learned adequately in order to find, take, and teach?

  1. Take a little time to understand the data in Family Tree so that you realize why names that appear to need temple work should be validated and carefully checked for duplicates, especially on early Church pioneer lines.

  2. Learn the basics of getting started, including using historical records and adding them as sources.

  3. Expand your knowledge with the many learning resources available on FamilySearch.org and other sites.

  4. Most importantly, pray for guidance, then follow the promptings you receive from the Holy Ghost.

The links above lead to past columns. So, you might ask, why are they being repeated? Because the myth is still alive and well that “finding names” means nothing more than clicking green temple icons in Family Tree.

I’ve noticed at least two reasons that this myth is perpetuated: 1) People who’ve been taught this myth believe it is true. With the best of intentions they pass it on to others. 2) Occasionally people who recognize the myth are afraid that if they teach correct principles, people will think family history is “too hard.” So they conclude that it’s better to make family history look simpler than it is so that people will at least be involved.

But the fear expressed in the second point doesn’t match my experience. As I’ve mentored people starting in family history, most of them want to put the effort into learning how to find valid names. Then they’re able to find, take, and teach.

Finding valid names for temple work is not hard, but takes understanding and a bit more effort than just clicking a green temple icon in Family Tree.

Think how you would feel if you were the one on the other side waiting for your work to be done, while people did repeat work for others because they didn’t carefully clear ordinances. Our family members on the other side are real people with feelings, needs, hopes and desires to progress. We treat ordinances for the living with great care and respect, making sure things are in order before the ordinance is performed. Why should we be any less careful with ordinances for those on the other side?

My brother-in-law John observed that our time is a consecrated—and limited—resource. The number of those needing temple ordinances on the other side is vast. Let’s use our sacred time to best advantage, making the investment to learn how to find names that really need temple work. Then we can effectively hasten the work of salvation as we find, take, and teach.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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