My name is Allison Kimball. I’m the mother of nine children. This is Loaf, our youngest. Her older brothers gave her the nickname Loaf when she was a baby because she didn’t do anything but loaf around. Years later, she still answers to Loaf.
Loaf is still little and can’t read very well. Handing her a copy of the Book of Mormon or any scripture is probably the least effective way I can teach her about the valuable lessons within its pages. It’s so much better to start with the stories of the people in the scriptures, things a child can relate to and learn from to help her in her life. We can show her beautiful art and create simple projects to reinforce the stories and people she hears about. We can teach her songs and poems until she has a love for the Savior and builds her relationship with Him.
My profound love of Christ is a result of this kind of teaching. I love to immerse myself in the scriptures, finding peace and strength in the words. The language and people are dear to me because of someone—many someones—who took the time to teach me the stories and instill in me a love for my Savior and Redeemer.
The same is true with family history. I have tried giving Loaf a family group sheet. She drew pretty pictures on the paper, but it held no real significance to her. It doesn’t hold much significance for most people. It’s a paper full of names and dates. Not until we come to know and love the people who are attached to the names do these connections have significance.
Loaf loves to hear the stories. She loves to see the photos and is slowly building a relationship with her ancestors. All these years I have been teaching my children about the people that came before them. But what I didn’t realize is that this type of sharing is an essential part of family history. It’s the simple things, like the funny stories I shared with them in hard times. When my girls got older, I started to see and understand the impact that knowing their ancestors’ stories had on them. They have shared with me the meaningful and sacred experiences of their forefathers.
I often reflect on the thousands of hours my grandmother spent poring over microfilm and microfiche. Her closet is filled with volumes of group sheets and notebooks containing the names and dates of thousands of our ancestors. Hers was a labor of love, and her example inspires not only me but also my children to appreciate our heritage and all that she has done to build our family tree.
Family history looks different for me than it did for her. Imagine what she could have done with the resources available to us. With the click of a button from my home, I can access millions of documents that can help tell our story. Today, our family history is often preserved in online photo libraries, on Instagram, on FamilySearch.org, and in other places. We still gather together and enjoy the physical photos, albums, and books. They are treasured. But I find myself looking for new ways to incorporate those simple memories into our lives. I want to spend a little more time remembering how important our stories are to preserve.
Through family history, I have gained a love for people whose faces I will never see in this life. I am inspired to do family history research (even searching census records and the like), but that only happened because someone taught me the stories first.
My heart overflows with love for the people who came before me and those who will come after. We are connected in a way I am just beginning to understand.