Who Do You Think You Are?

Area Leadership Message

Elder Herland
Elder Tom-Atle Herland, Norway Area Seventy

In many countries all over the world, the documentary, “Who Do You Think You Are?” has both fascinated and engaged viewers and participants of the TV series. Many celebrities joined the series and they have been emotionally touched as stories of their ancestors have been found, researched and presented. This fascination and being emotionally touched is interesting, especially in light of a gospel perspective. Without aid from competent genealogists, these celebrities would not have had such a powerful experience.

Who do you think you are? Who are your ancestors? I myself am the child of converts to the Church and the gospel. My father and mother joined the Church in October 1971. In February 1972, my father baptized me after I had turned 8 years old. My father, a very faithful convert to the Church, began doing family history research early, and has done family history work for many thousands of our ancestors.  My father continues to work on his family history, even though he is 83 years old. I have just begun finding names on my mother’s side of the family. My mother died in 1998 and though much work was already accomplished, there is still more work to be done. My goal is to see my name as often as my father’s or my wife’s name on the Temple Ordinance Cards when I go to the temple. But if I am to succeed in this, I must get help, just like we saw in the documentary, “Who Do You Think You Are?” My wife—a very eager genealogist—helps me find names. Without her help, progress would have been very slow. If you are like me and many others, find someone to help you with this work. You will then accomplish more, you will see that your ancestors are found and that the temple work of your own family is done. It feels wonderful to do temple work. It is extra special when I go through the temple for one of my own ancestors whom I myself have worked to find or read about.

President Nelson gave an amazing talk during the April 2018 General Conference with the title, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives. In his talk he said something very interesting which has mattered a great deal to me since, “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.” [Emphasis added.] Let us follow the prophet. Let us take our ancestors to the temple.

Over the last decades, there has been a strong growth in the construction of new temples. With the increasing access to temples, it is crucial that you and I go there often. A faithful woman in the Church came to me once when I served as a Stake President and said that it had been a long time since she had been to the temple. She had mixed feelings about the temple. I told her this was not a problem. I knew others myself who had shared this feeling. I asked if she would join us on one of the week-long trips from Norway to the Stockholm Sweden Temple, but just participate in one session. “Just one session per day,” she asked very surprised. “No,” I said, “Just one session during the entire week! Identify the day you feel most attracted to the temple, and just attend one session that day. The other days, you can go on walks around the temple and do things which will make you feel close to Christ.” She did so and this was the beginning of a change for her and the relationship she had to the temple.

Who can help you find your ancestors? What can you do to come regularly to the temple?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”[1]


[1] John 3:16