There’s one problem they don’t really cover when they talk about family history in church meetings – what to do when your names start stacking up.
It’s a very particular problem, suffered only by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have a lot of ancestors who weren’t members and don’t have their temple work done. If your family converted sometime in the last couple of generations, you probably knew going in that you were on that list. The rest of us, however, probably assumed our family’s temple work was done only to discover we had about 45 cousins that nobody ever got around to doing the work for. When you add the spouses and children, that ends up being quite a list.
In a perfect world, you’d take them all through the temple yourself – it’s your family, after all – but a lot of the ordinances can only be done one at a time (and by a person of the same gender). Essentially, that means that even a reasonably-sized list can take years to get through, even if you go to the temple regularly. And, since the FamilySearch system will only let you hold a name for two years, there’s a deadline you have to get them all done by. What can you do?
Thankfully, there are a couple of options. Though you can’t turn them into your nearest temple, you can share them with the temple system through FamilySearch. That will put them on the master list that eventually trickles down to the individual temples, where whoever is visiting the temple that day will take care of them. The one disadvantage for this is that there are thousands and thousands of other people also putting their names in every day, so it can sometimes take a ton of time. For things like sealings, it can sometimes take years.
On a more local level, temples also have drawers where various wards who are assigned to that particular temple can leave names for other people to do. This tends to move a bit faster than the worldwide system, though female names always go through much more quickly than male names.
If you’re desperate, you can also try to hand the names off to ward members. Unfortunately, you might run into a zucchini situation – they may very well be trying to hand out their own stack of family names that need to be taken to the temple, and merely exchanging your piles won’t help either of you.
Of course, all of this depends on the wonderful, generous people who don’t have a stack of names waiting at home. If you go to the temple regularly, check out the drawer for your ward and see if there are any names there you can do. If you’re a guy, or have a husband or brother you can encourage to go to the temple more often, it’s even more important. If you have a ward member who talks about having too many names, offer to take a few.
Even though you’re not bringing your own names to the temple, you’re still helping the work move forward. We’re all sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, after all, so in the end we’re all still the same family.