We’re all part of a great missionary heritage. Whether your ancestors preached the gospel in far-off places hundreds of years ago or you’re the one leading the way in creating your family’s missionary story, we all have a connection to someone who made sacrifices, great or small, to share the good news of the gospel. These stories connect us, inspire us, and show us the conviction and faith found in our roots.
FamilySearch is celebrating those stories with research tips, activities, and tools to help you discover more about your missionary heritage. Find out which of your ancestors served missions, where they served, and what their experience was like. Research your missionary ancestors in the Church History Database to find their names in mission records. Or get the family together and check out our fun missionary activities for all ages.
How much do you know about your ancestors’ missionary experiences? What do those stories mean to you and your family? They’re more than stories—see how learning about their missionary experiences can help shape yours.
Need ideas to help you turn missionary work into missionary fun for the whole family? Check out our missionary-themed coloring pages, game ideas, and more!
The Early Mormon Missionaries database contains journals, letters, photographs, and other resources that can help you learn more about your ancestors and their missionary service. Not sure where to start? We’ve provided a few simple tips to help you find your ancestors in the database.
Missionary journals and letters provide a special glimpse of what life was like for your missionary ancestors. Learn how you can preserve these important documents and pass on your ancestor’s story.
Learning about our missionary ancestors can tell us a lot about ourselves. As we follow in their footsteps of service and faith, we can draw strength from their examples and recognize the traits that they passed on. The stories below, among many others, show how the spirit of missionary service can continue through generations to impact our lives and turn our hearts to our ancestors. After watching the videos, test your own knowledge about your missionary ancestors with the My Missionary Heritage Quiz.
“They Did It, So I Can Too”
“I had a really hard time with the language, and I had some really lonely times. And I just thought, ‘Great-grandpa Gonzalez went through so much more, and Heavenly Father blessed him and helped him. If my great-grandpa can do that, I can do anything.’”
Rhonna and her daughter Talli both gained strength and inspiration from the story of their ancestor, Andres Carlos Gonzalez. While imprisoned for preaching in public during his mission to Mexico City, Andres wrote the lyrics to hymn number 88 in the Spanish hymnbook, “Placentero nos es trabajar” (It Is Pleasant to Work). His determination and faith in the face of adversity continue to be a testimony to his descendants over 100 years later.
Following in His Footsteps
“I found out the Lord had a different plan in mind for me. Knowing about my ancestor Elder Peck, that he served in New Zealand 100 years before I was called to New Zealand on my mission, prepared me to go and do the things that the Lord has commanded.”
Throughout his 3 years of missionary service, Charles Lawrence Peck was an example of sacrifice and dedication to the Lord. Kastle never imagined that he would be following his great-great-grandfather’s footsteps almost a century later, all the way to New Zealand. It was there that Kastle saw those same traits reflected in himself and learned that the Lord’s plan for his life wasn’t quite what he had expected.
My Missionary Heritage Quiz
Test your knowledge about your missionary ancestors! Do you know the answers to these questions about their missionary service?
- Who is the missionary that taught the first convert in your family?
- Who was the first missionary on your family tree?
- What is the farthest one of your ancestors traveled to serve a mission?
- What is the longest amount of time one of your ancestors served on a mission?
- If you could go to the same mission your ancestor went to, where would it be?
- What languages did your missionary ancestors learn?
- What miracles occurred on your ancestor’s mission?
- Do you know descendants of converts your ancestors baptized?
- Do you have a picture of an ancestor on a mission?
- Can you find a copy of one of your ancestors’ mission calls?
Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers—we’re here to help! Check out these database research tips next to help you fill in the blanks!
Soon after the Church was organized, thousands of men and women left their homes and families to preach the gospel all around the world. Some of your ancestors could be among them, and now you can get a closer look into their stories. The Early Mormon Missionaries website contains tens of thousands of digitized documents, including journals, letters, photographs, and other resources that can help you better understand your ancestors and their service.
You can search the Early Mormon Missionaries database by following a few simple steps:
- Enter your ancestor’s first or last name, mission, or keyword in the Search box.
- If you know your ancestor’s mission or the dates he or she served, you can add those in the box on the left to help refine your search.
- Select the correct person in the list of results to learn more about that ancestor’s missionary service, including when and where he or she served, when he or she was called and set apart, and details about the mission he or she served in.
Here are some great ways to get the whole family involved in turning missionary work into missionary fun!
Missionary coloring pages
Print out these missionary-themed coloring pages and give them to members of your family to color while you talk about your family’s missionary heritage. When you’re finished, you can display them in your home along with any pictures you find of your missionary ancestors!
Games and activity ideas
These links can help you get the whole family involved in the missionary spirit. Try a few of these activities and games for all ages!
- “Missionary Work”—FHE activity plan
- “I Can Be a Missionary Now!”—missionary board game for kids
- “Youth Activities—Missionary Work”—missionary activities and ideas for youth
I was sitting in church yesterday when it was announced that a young man from our ward had returned home early from his mission due to some health issues. My heart mourned for this young missionary, not only for the physical but the mental anguish he was experiencing. I immediately wanted to tell him about my great-grandfather, Ralph Cutler. An extraordinary man, he was loved and revered by all who know him, but he also had to come home early from his mission because of health reasons.
In his own words, “I might state here that I felt that my mission was a huge failure because I was terribly handicapped by my old intestinal trouble that bothered me most of the time and prevented me from putting my best and whole effort into the work and was unable to partake of and enjoy the hospitality of the people and to do the work required of a missionary. . . . I gradually got weaker and finally had to give up in November 1900 and come home, a disappointed and heartbroken man.”
His daughter Alice May records, “Now, lest the reader be led into believing that Ralph Cutler’s mission was, as he said, ‘a huge failure,’ a perusal of his missionary journal reveals a different point of view. Though his mission was shortened to eleven months, it was one of many varied and worthwhile experiences of fearlessly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ralph Cutler was a strong advocate and firm defender of the faith, whether preaching on the street corners in the cities or in the schools, churches, and homes of the country. His gift for oration, brought to the fore more extensively on his mission while preaching on the first principles of the gospel, prompted one gentleman to remark at the close of a street meeting in Columbus, Ohio, that Elder Cutler ‘was a good enough orator to be in congress.’”
As I reflect on Grandpa Ralph’s life, I am humbled by the goodness and perseverance. Coming home early from his mission was difficult and something that he anguished over, but it did not define him, and he spent his life doing good, defending the faith, and testifying of Christ. His posterity calls his name blessed, for even as his great-granddaughter, I am gaining strength from the way he lived his life. Without his journals, I would have never known about his life as a missionary. I would have missed out learning that he kept track of all of his expenses, and the total cost of his life as a missionary was only $209.30.
So to this young missionary in our ward who returned home early, you are in the company of others who for whatever reason could not fulfill their entire time as missionaries. What defines you will be how you live the remaining part of your life.
Reading Grandpa Ralph’s words makes me think back to my mission, the differences, the similarities, the love of the Lord. I am so thankful he took the time to write about his experiences teaching. I am grateful for his grandson Theodore, who scanned and digitized his journal for us as posterity. I appreciate that my father, another grandson, has made it possible for me to read the life of his grandfather from any location in the world. It has been a treasure in my life.
Today I consider what I will do to preserve my own missionary experience for my posterity. With the technology of my smartphone and a scanning app like TurboScan, in a matter of minutes, I can preserve the words and experiences for future generations.
Missionary journals and letters provide a special glimpse of what life was like for your missionary ancestor, and you can help preserve these important documents and pass on your ancestor’s story.
- On the Early Mormon Missionaries website, type your ancestor’s name in the search box.
- To send your photos, documents, or other information to be included in the database, click Submit Additional Information.
- Fill out the form with all the information you have.
- If you have a document or photograph to submit, in the drop-down box, select Yes. You will be able to add an attachment on the next screen.
- Click Submit.
Source: New on FamilySearch