Catching the Vision of Family History

Pat Childs

For Pat Childs of Orem, catching the vision of the importance of family history work is key. She has had many opportunities to help others do that while serving in the BYU Family History Library and on family history and other types of missions with her husband.

For example, during a mission in Tennessee, she and her husband visited 28 courthouses. During one visit they were helping young missionaries, who seemed bored with the recording work they were doing.

“They would just sit there and do it real fast,” Pat recalls. “And so we thought, we’ve got to encourage these kids to get more excited. So we asked them how many people have been baptized since they’ve been out, and they said ‘Two.’ And my husband said, “Consider that your marriage record has two people on there, and they’re going to end up in the temple.’ And they were like, ‘Wow!’ They got real excited about it.”

Pat and her husband Jim moved to Utah from California in 2006. “We had to live where there was a temple, a college, and medical facilities, so that’s why we picked Orem,” she says. “And we knew that we had a lot of opportunities here for family history.”

Pat, who also loves learning, goes to all the educational programs she can. “I’ve been coming to BYU Education Week for many years because it’s a good way to keep learning. I go to four night [Adult Religion] classes at BYU, and I can learn more in an hour and a half than I can in six months in Gospel Doctrine. I don’t like to say that, but it’s true. And I just love family history. Joseph Smith said a long time ago, everybody has a certain time and periods of time. And our mission here is to do the family history. I feel very strongly about that.”

She is amazed how few people attend the family history classes available here. “The classes come to the family history centers, especially at BYU, and they’re all day Friday and Sundays. And it’s like we might have 12 people to a class. We should have at least 50. We announce them all over the place, even in the ward houses, but they haven’t caught the vision–that you’re saving people. I remember somebody gave a talk one time and said, ‘Just envision the next world. How many people are going to be thanking you for what you did?’”

Pat was a child when she internalized the importance of family history and genealogy work. “I would help my mother as a young kid about 12, 13 years old. We would go down to the Los Angeles temple, and she would go into microfilm and do all that. We’d just watch and have fun. She taught family history. And it just kind of gets in your blood, but until you internalize it, you’re not going to be doing anything.”

She remembers the excitement about family history and temple work shown by some of the BYU students she and her husband worked with during one of their missions to Nauvoo.

“It’s 283 steps to the temple from the Joseph Smith Academy where we stayed–they counted the steps. And one sister, a student, decided she was going to set a goal of how many times to do baptisms. They did 1,000 in one semester! That’s a lot.”

At the 2014 Conference on Family History and Genealogy, she was greatly impressed by the phrase “No more temple welfare,” which she heard from one of the keynote presenters. “He said when people come to the temple, they expect a name. He said that’s not the doctrine. What we want the Church to be is people taking their own names. But only 2.7% of church members turn in names. My brother Roger Flick taught family history here at BYU. He started the family history library–it was a little hole in the wall, and now it is what it is today. So he’s really into that. He asked somebody in his ward, ‘How come you don’t like family history?’ ‘I’m not interested in that.’ He said, ‘Do you realize that you’re not honoring the people before you?’ And they said, ‘No, I didn’t realize that.’ He said, ‘Honor them,’ because they went through those handcarts and everything else to get here.”

Pat is so passionate about the importance of family history work, it is hard for her to understand those who cannot yet see it.

“And just some of the movies I’ve seen, Ephraim’s Rescue and stuff like that–how can you not do family history? How can you not do it when you see the struggle they went through? And then when you look around, you think, we’re here such a short time on the earth. Joseph Smith said this was our mission–to do family history. I wish more people would get it internalized.”

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