Close your eyes and imagine sandy white beaches, pristine blue water, and tropical plants and birds…sounds so relaxing doesn’t it? Not to mention warm compared to this frozen weather! Don’t be too jealous but our family just got back from a vacation to the beautiful country of Costa Rica! My dad was born and raised in Costa Rica, and comes from a family of 9 kids! I have met maybe half of his siblings, (some live in the states, or have visited) but have yet to meet others who have never visited, and we also have never gone. I have not seen my grandmother since I was probably around 10 years old which was the last time she visited.
I know what you’re thinking…a trip to Costa Rica…No fair right? Well, to be honest, yes I was excited to see the country and the beautiful beaches and rainforest, but really, what I was most excited about is seeing family. Since I can remember I have always been drawn to the fact that I have roots there. I want to know where I come from, where my family comes from and who they are. Before this trip, I thought of Costa Rica as a place my dad was from and a place I knew I had family. But it wasn’t until I actually went, met family, and saw the people and how they live that I am now able to understand just what it means to be part Costa Rican. I guess you could say I connected to my roots. This trip was so important to me to also not just know about the country and its people, but about my family and ancestors. In my spare time, I like to do family history. Part of understanding who we are and where we come from, comes from learning about our ancestors. Family history also takes on special meaning as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because we believe that marriage and families continue beyond this life. This can happen when families are sealed together in one of the many LDS temples around the world and united for eternity. It is such an amazing blessing to know I will be with my family forever.
Family History Enriches my Life
Family history holds a very special place in my heart. My mom always taught me about our ancestors on her side, so I have always felt connected to my Mexican heritage, but not much is known about my dad’s side. He knows a little about his mom’s family, but never really talked about it. It’s been quite the mystery! So, I have taken it upon myself to find out more about my family and my heritage. I started doing family history as a teenager and with much prayer and patience have discovered some amazing things about my ancestors. It has been quite the journey, and to be honest, in the years I have been doing it, I haven’t been very successful, but the times I have, it has brought me so much joy.
This past week in Costa Rica I had an amazing experience. In my years of doing research I have learned my grandmother’s parents’ names–my great grandparents) In fact, while looking at www.familysearch.org I was able to go back 15 generations on her side, all mostly from Costa Rica, and then Spain. 15 generations! Like I mentioned before it takes a lot of patience and I have found myself frustrated at times, and almost in tears when I have come to a “dead end.” I have stared at my great-grandparents’ names for years with nothing else tied to them. No pictures, no dates, just names.
Genealogy trips to Ancestral Homes
This past week we visited my dad’s old neighborhood where he grew up. I saw where he went to school, where he spent most of his childhood playing soccer in the streets, and I even met some great aunts and cousins from my grandmother’s side. At one point we pulled up to a small humble blue house. There was a blue gate around it with the initials RB on the gate door. My dad then revealed that the little blue house was where my great grandparents lived. The initials RB hit me. They were my great grandfather’s initials. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about the years I have stared at those names not knowing anything about them, and here I was standing where they stood so long ago. It was an amazing feeling. Next door was his aunt’s and uncle’s house and we were able to visit with them. They gave us a little tour of their home and in the attic I saw a dusty old picture. I asked who it was, and I learned that it was my great grandparents–the same owners of the little blue house. For so long I was at a dead end with just 2 names, and now I had seen their home, stood where they stood, saw his initials on something besides a pedigree chart, and now I had seen their faces. They looked so normal, so happy, and so familiar, like I always knew them.
I was also hit with the fact that my daughter was also running around playing in the yard where my great grandparents lived as well. I stopped her to explain where we were and although she’s only 2, and doesn’t quite get it all now, one day she will. The great thing is because of my research in family history, she can feel connected and know where she comes from. I can show her pictures of her standing where her great-great-grandparents lived, and I can show her pictures of her aunts and uncles. Knowing a little more about my heritage opened up my eyes to the type of mother I want to be. I want to carry those traditions and teach my daughter about her heritage so she can be more confident in who she is. She has a lot to learn about. I am half Mexican and half Costa Rican and we like to tease that my husband is everything else, so she’s got a great little mix. I am learning that each part, no matter how small, plays such an important role in who we are and who we will become. For us to be better mothers, we must get to know all aspects of who we are so we can better understand our roles in the home, and better understand ourselves and our children.
If you want to learn more about family history and getting started check out my fellow blogger Christine Bell. She write about genealogy every week and has really helped me progress in my family history! I gained such a testimony of family history and eternal families from this trip. Now that I had names to a faces, I look forward to the day I will see my great-grandparents again. I will know exactly who they are and one day we will be reunited. I look at my daughter and think about this baby on the way and how we are sealed (joined by God) for time and eternity. I know that we will never truly lose each other because we will be together forever. I am so grateful for the blessing of being with my family forever and all they teach me both young and old! I hope through me my children can learn about my ancestors, and that I can become the mother and person that one day my children’s children will will also look up to and want to get to know as well. We each have a story…whats yours?
Krystal is a latter-day mom and Holy Homemaker to 3 beautiful kiddos who is striving to find joy in the everyday trenches of motherhood and life! Her passion is sharing her experience of decluttering with a purpose to help others create a Holy Home where the messes subside and the Spirit resides. She is a lover of books, nature, music, food, the gospel, and all things Texas! Follow her at her website, Latter-day Mom!