Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Connecting Kids with Righteous Ancestors

In the recent General Conference, Elder Walker said, "The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices."

With so many apostolic promises of protection, wisdom, and great blessings if the youth of the church do family history work, we will be focusing on familiarizing our children with the conversion stories of their immediate ancestors during family home evening for the next little while.

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday, we started with him.  

I asked my Dad to share his conversion story with me via email.  He was born in the church, but like everyone who choses to follow Christ, he had to decide for himself what path to take.

I started FHE lesson by displaying this photo of my father Robert Hatch as a boy around age seven:

I told the children that we had a Family History Mystery to solve tonight!  I asked if they knew who the boy was in the picture.  They said that they did not.  I said, this is the mystery that we need to solve.

I told them a few things about the person, and asked them to try to guess from the clues who was pictured.  I also had a brown paper bag containing items that describe the person.

The kids pulled out a packet of seeds and a pruning tool first.  This person likes to garden.
Next, they pulled out a dictionary: This person loves to read and memorize new words every day.  He knows more words that anyone I know.
Then they pulled out chocolate and nuts: His favorite snack.

The kids knew from the clues (especially gardening) that the boy in the picture was the person they know as "Papa," their grandpa Robert Hatch.

I told them about Elder Walker's promise that if we learn about our righteous forefathers, we will be more likely to make wise choices, and I asked them to listen to Papa's story of how he gained a testimony.

In my Dad's words: "I have always had a testimony of the gospel.  I realized recently that this is one of my personal gifts of the spirit, the gift to 'know' that the gospel is true.  I have always known it and never doubted."

"At age 14, I went on 'splits' with the missionaries a lot, because they lived with us on and off.  One time they asked me to bear my testimony at a baptism.  I remember as clear as day the passion and rush of emotion as I gave a testimony of the truth of the Bible and Book of Mormon.  After the baptism, I saw my seminary teacher in the hallway and I told her I loved her.  I think that stunned her...I know it stunned me!"

"During my Senior year, I dated a girl who went to another church.  One day she told me that she did not believe in God.  That really took me back...a church-going person who did not believe in God!  The next day in fast and testimony meeting, I bore my testimony that I knew that God lived.  That was a significant moment for me."

"When Susan and I were dating in college, we were having a 'what if' conversation, and we said, "let's just get married!'  Seeing good and bad examples of how those types of choices panned out, I squashed that idea immediately, and basically bore testimony that the only place I was going to get married was the temple."

"Still after my third semester in college, I came home to either get drafted into the military, drift off into who knows what, or go on a mission.  I had a long tall mirror in my bedroom.  I purposefully, intently, piercingly, prayerfully, gazed into that mirror.  I looked long, hard, and deep into my eyes--into my soul--and asked myself at this pivotal moment in my life, which direction was I going to choose.  Who was I going to follow?  What kind of life was I going to lead?  The decision was made.  The rest is history."

We all know that Papa then served a mission in France, but an added detail that my children loved and will remember is that his fellow Elders nicknamed him "Straight Arrow" for his undeviating and upright obedience and righteous ways.

As I told the last dramatic episode of his story, I held a mirror up and looked into it.  And I asked the children to look into the mirror too, into their own eyes---into their souls--as Papa did.  I told them that although they were also born into the church, each one of us must, as Papa did, make the decision, on our own, to follow the Savior.

The kids loved it!~

Now, seeing as it was my dad's 65th birthday, we had made plans to Skype with him during Family Home Evening, so to buy time, I asked the children to get out their journals and write down what they could remember about Papa's conversion story.  We glued photos of him into their journal entries, and over Skype the children shared what they wrote with their grandpa.

I could be mistaken, but a lifetime of seeing my dad try to hold back tears tells me that I think he was touched.

I can't even begin to put into words what a huge blessing it has been to grow up with a father like the one that I have.  He is a rare gem of a man, steady and true, so loving to everyone, does not demand attention or do anything for show, refined, yet earthy, loves to nurture things and make them grow.  Although he is the father of just one son (and four girls), I have watched him take many a lost boy under his wing and without hardly a thanks, take them in as one of his own for a season and set them off on their course, a better person for it.  He is completely invested as a listener, but when he speaks, he has just the right words and analogies.  Just a beautiful, wonderful man.  We are so blessed.


  1. What a wonderful FHE idea! Love it!

  2. you are blessed with a loving humble sincere father-I've known him since he was in high school 1963-4 when I joined the family.

  3. We have done grandparent conversion stories for FHE. It is a good topic. What a great job you did on it.