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Family History Moments: Turning the heads

ENUGU, Nigeria — In this land, when the heart of the children turns to family history, it usually means also turning to the heads of the fathers, as that is where most of the records are stored — in the memory of tribal elders.

Those witnessing the process know it is a labor of love. It usually requires an individual traveling to his or her home village and speaking with family or village historians, or the elderly in general, who in most cases have the information only by memory.

Dates are the most difficult and most are approximated since very little has been written. Obtaining the information is a challenge because the elders and elderly may be in their village only the two or three weeks during Christmas. Christmas is traditionally the time they talk about their forebears. And there is an urgency is to capture the information from the elderly before the memory passes away in death.

As the members collect information on their ancestors, local family history consultants teach them how to preserve it. This brings up another challenge. The Onitsha District is one of five districts in the Enugu Nigeria Mission, but only the second to have a family history center with a computer. With that technology, members in the district have been working on their own family history lines.

Vincent Attoh, Onitsha District family history director and past district president, frequently visits each of the branches to teach and encourage the branch family history consultants in performing their duties.

Going to the villages of his ancestors, Brother Attoh has gathered in excess of 300 names reaching into the 1600s in the 15 years he has been a Church member.

Loretta Ifejika, a member for 10 years, now district family history computer specialist and family history consultant for the Inland Branch, has researched her line and family to exceed 440 names, extending into the 1700s. The miracle is happening; ways are being opened. As members tell their stories, family history specialists are seeing the personal revelations unfold and divine help being extended.

The members are eager and looking forward to receiving this blessing in their lives.

— Elder Robert Wallin and Sister Joanette Wallin, family history missionaries, Nigeria Enugu Mission

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