"Family history work protects families"

Kelli Sanders

Kelli Sanders

For Kelli Sanders of Orem, Utah, family history work is a way to bring God's blessings and protection on her family.

"It blesses me to do it. It helps me want to be that much better than I am every day, because He's going to bless me. I know that you need all the blessings we can get.I heard about an article in Parade Magazine that said resilient kids come from people who know more about their family history. I want to have my kids be resilient today. I feel like family history protects my kids, protects my family, protects me, in the choices I make and the things that are happening. It's a protection. It's an armor like anything else."

Kelli was in her first year of high school when she first knew she wanted to be involved in searching out her family history.

"It was in my first year of seminary. A sister came and gave a lesson–Sister Hawkins. I don't know what she said or what she did, but I remember it was a couple lessons. It was back before we had whiteboards and all that kind of stuff. She didn't even have an overhead projector. She just had one of those big easels with the paper that you flip over with the spiral at the top. She had pedigree charts on it, and I was fascinated with the pedigree charts. I was fascinated with the family group records. I wanted to go home and fill out my own!"

A special motivation for her was the fact that her father is not a member of the LDS Church. Her mother is from an old Mormon family so her family history work has been done, but she had all her father's work to do.

"I've had a lot of 'buzzes' from searching out my dad's family history," Kelli says.She didn't make a lot of progress on her lines while she was in high school, but in college she rediscovered her fascination with the work.

"I took my very first religion class at BYU in genealogy with Grant Stevenson. I worked on that class, and I loved that class. I put so much time into my religion class. I would come home and didn't even want to watch TV. I was addicted kind of young." As she began her research, she found herself fascinated by stories about other people's ancestors. She developed a deep desire to find her own ancestors and to make sure the process of binding families together continues.

"That's what drove me to keep going. I've just done some family history books to give to my family. I want to be the one to make sure it keeps going. I feel that really strongly. If I can get my kids to at least write stories and take pictures, then their history won't be lost."

She's found that service at a family history center has been a bonus, helping her to help others catch the vision of the work.

"I really love that–it's really gotten me excited even more. It's like you're converting people. It's fun getting them excited. You get so hooked, you don't mind spending hours and hours helping other people on it. You forget how much time you're spending." Kelli also devotes time to indexing, the endless labor of digitizing records from around the world. It's not something she was excited about at first.

"My husband was the bishop at the time when they first started trying to get us to do indexing. He kept trying to get me to do that, and I kept thinking, 'I don't have time to do that—I have my own family history to do. I've got my dad's line I'm working on. I'm finding them in the census records.' So finally he said, 'You really should do it.' I did it–I did it on a Sunday. And the very next day I got an email from a lady that had found the headstones of my great-great-grandfather in Illinois. She'd contacted me through Ancestry.com. And I thought, 'Is this because I finally decided to help with indexing?' I kind of felt like it was! So that kind of gave me another buzz.

"I think that's what family history work does for us, lets you see how He does keep all His promises, when you do your efforts."

Conference: It's been really fun, like a shot in the arm. It's a good experience for me because some of the things I've been doing for a while have gotten kind of tired, and it's revitalized those. It's reviewed to me what's important, why I do what I'm doing. I've got to go back to what works for me—citing my sources better, taking the time and pondering information more on records. It's made me again more excited about the technology part of things. I haven't been a Facebook person, but now I'm going to be a Facebook person. It's converted me to be better on my iPad, learn how to do things on my iPad, and not use excuses.

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