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A Notebook, a Pen, and Funerals

A Notebook, a Pen, and Funerals
Church members are often intrigued by family history but don’t know where to begin searching on their own.  Beyond recording information about their own parents and grandparents, for example, gathering names and dates becomes more difficult.  Sister Mabahlakoana Jeanett Mapetla faced the same obstacles, but she used her faith and ingenuity to overcome them.  She says,   “When I first investigated the Church, I enjoyed most the [discussion] on the temple and family history. I started thinking about how I could do my genealogy, but I didn’t know where to start.”
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She had learned the lesson on asking for help from our Heavenly Father very well.  She says, “I prayed and fasted, and I was prompted to take a small booklet and pen with me wherever I went.  In family gatherings, at family parties, and mostly at funerals, I would be busy disturbing the old people there, gathering information from them.”

As most researchers do, she found that elderly people are treasure troves of information and were not in any way “disturbed” by questions about their aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. In fact, they were delighted to share anecdotes along with the names and dates. With enough stories in hand, Sister Mapetla was able to start “connecting the dots.” 

 “I even got information from neighbors and friends,” she reports enthusiastically. “Soon the Lord helped me find what I was looking for. I was prompted to collect [the information on all] the members of the whole family.”

Interestingly enough, she did not understand the link between family history and temple work until much later.  She says, “I started going to the temple in March of 2002, and it was there that I realized that the collection I had of my family lineage would help me do baptisms for the dead members of my family. I didn’t know that I’d be helping them when I collected the information. I only knew that in the teachings of the Church we were encouraged to collect our genealogy. I first collected about twenty-five of my family members, up to the sixth generation. I was even able to find both my grandparents’ sides as well as my parents’, because I hurried to visit and interview the old people at funerals.”

Sister Mapetla found deep satisfaction in the work, stating, “Now I have been blessed to do the work for them, and after being a member for ten years, I’ve done more than seventy names and am looking forward to many more.”

Just like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, Sister Mapetla believes in listening and doing. She concludes, “I thank the Lord for being so loving as to help me do this marvelous work. I always feel happy when I feel the love of my ancestors.” Not only that, but she realizes it requires action as well.  That’s why she always reaches for her pen and notebook before she heads out to a funeral.

 Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from Southeast Area Family History Office, Submitted December 9, 2011.

Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from Southeast Area Family History Office, Submitted December 9, 2011.