This is a recap of the talk Elder Paul Koelliker gave to the Consultants at the recent RootsTech genealogy/Technology Conference in Salt Lake City. Reprinted here from Church News.
The power and the lesson of family history work is love, Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy said at a devotional session of the RootsTech conference Feb. 4.
An assistant executive director of the Family History Department, Elder Koelliker spoke to a gathering largely consisting of priesthood leaders, family history center directors and ward family history consultants in the Church.
"Part of our Heavenly Father's plan is that we were born into families," he said, adding that to Latter-day Saints the family is the most important organization in time and in eternity, as families bring happiness to individuals, help them learn core principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life.
"Even before we were born...we were part of a family," he said. "Each of us is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, by nature and divine destiny."
He spoke of his marriage some 46 years ago when he said to himself he would never love anyone more than he loved his bride. Two years later, "a beautiful little baby girl" was born to the family. As he saw her take her first breath, he said to himself, "I will never love anybody more than I love my wife and this little girl."
Within another two years, a baby boy was born, and Elder Koelliker said to himself he would never love anyone more than he loved his wife, their daughter and their son. This went on five more times as other children were born to the family, and it continued as grandchildren were born. He said it gave personal meaning for the pronouncement that the coming of the prophet Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers.
"I see myself in a chain," he said. "Perhaps there are hundreds of people extending on this chain, waiting for me to take the time to show enough love for them that I will find them and add to this chain" through family history research and the providing of temple ordinances.
"I genuinely feel that the power and the lesson of family history work is love. Just as our love for our children and our grandchildren is something we intensely feel, so our love for others who are further out in the chain is something we must feel."
He said the work of temples is coupled closely with family history work, explaining that there are uncounted millions who have walked the earth and never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. "Shall they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the Lord?"
Such persons receive those blessings as proxies perform the ordinances in the temple and they are free to accept or reject the ordinances, which include baptism, marriage and the sealing of a husband and wife together in a binding relationship, he explained. "There is no compulsion in this process, but there must be an opportunity."
He asked regarding deceased ancestors, "Do they really care? Are they really interested in what we're doing?"
He told of traveling with family members to Switzerland. When their hotel reservation had been lost, the hotel owner found them other accommodations. The owner of the hotel told them he knew a Paul Koelliker who lived in the city. He called the man on the phone, then asked Elder Koelliker if he lived in Salt Lake City. It turned out that the Paul Koelliker there in the city had met Elder Koelliker 25 years earlier while visiting Salt Lake City and had given Elder Koelliker a list of ancestral names, but Elder Koelliker had been unable to link them to his own genealogy.
Now, in Switzerland, he again met the Swiss Paul Koelliker, who was the director of the local archives. There, they found a document containing records of their ancestry. The visiting Koellikers came away with records of 350 families they had copied by hand.
"Some might say this was a coincidence," he said, but testified that there are those on the other side helping their living descendants find names to add to their families' trees and take them to the temple "so they can receive or at least have the option to receive the same blessings that we receive."
Elder Koelliker declared, "This is the work of heaven. This is the work of love. This is the work of power and the influence of the Spirit."