or how I became a nFS missionary
A couple of weeks ago I thought my husband walked into the kitchen. “Will you speak at Stake Conference?” he asked. I glanced up initially thinking that he was kidding. Then I saw that he wasn’t. But just in case, I responded, “Is this a request or an assignment?” Nope, definitely not kidding as he responded, “an assignment.”
You all know that there is really only one answer to the Stake President’s question. And I did what all of us, card carrying members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have covenanted to do. I smiled, and said, “Sure. I’ll be glad to. What would you like me speak about?” But when he told me he wanted me to talk about being a Family History Missionary, the smile actually became genuine.
Becoming a service missionary actually started floating in and out of my consciousness quite a while ago, as gradually I became more and more interested in the idea.
Then, Thanksgiving 2008 found us visiting our daughter, Tricia with her family in North Carolina. There we participated in a family tradition. After dinner, but before dessert, each person around the table is called upon randomly to share a Blessing, an Accomplishment and a Goal. We call it our BAG. It was then that I finally said it out loud.
My Blessing - to teach school and have such a great group of kids
My Accomplishment - making my blog into a book
And my Goal - to be a service missionary
Everyone clapped as we traditionally do for each individual, but the look on my husband’s face betrayed his surprise. I was going to be retiring from teaching in a few weeks and had decided that once I got my life organized that a service mission would be a good idea.
Well, you probably know how things fill up your life and some goals are easy to put off. It was about 5 months later that I received an email from Tricia. It was actually a “forward” entitled:
Family History Church Service Missionary Opportunity
Tricia is a family history consultant in her ward. Now I had always imagined that I would be a Church Service Missionary over at the Bishop’s Storehouse. I love the Family Canning Facility. I had great dreams of making it a very fun place to go for date night and all the families in our Stake being well-stocked in an emergency. So I called her up and said “Why are you sending me this email?” She told me that she thought I might like to do it. I reminded her that I hadn’t done any genealogy since we lived in England. And although I did a lot then, it has changed…significantly…over the past 18 years. However, she talked me into calling the phone number for Elder Davis, the mission president. I actually ended up speaking with his wife, Sister Davis. I told her that
Quote I could serve 3-5 days a week to include 12-15 hours of service per week and Quote had a good knowledge of personal computers, with instant messaging and e-mail communication experience.
But! I had virtually no
Quote experience with family history software and products.
“We’d love to have you Sister Carter”, she replied. “Just fill out the missionary application. We are starting a new class in five weeks. That might be a little tight to get your paperwork done though.” She said that the Stake President Referral is what normally holds up the procedure. I assured her that I had that one covered, hung up the phone and downloaded the application.
My classes convened on the internet with my trainers, Brother and Sister Blanchard, in Wendouree, Australia. Eight weeks later I graduated without fanfare and was assigned to a district headed by Sister Robin McClure. She is known in Family History circles for her research and documentation of Black Family History using techniques that she developed documenting her own family history. However I am blessed to be one of the 17 missionaries she supervises. We have an internet meeting most Wednesday nights. Truly this is one of the most supportive groups I have ever been a part of and I have appreciated their unfailing support and encouragement.
Thanksgiving 2009 found us again in North Carolina. And it was with no small amount of emotion that I reported my accomplishment: Learning to be an online new FamilySearch support missionary. It is definitely an understatement to say that I have been on a steep learning curve the past 8 months.
My first patron was an elderly man who had forgotten his password to sign into new FamilySearch. I was so grateful that he wasn’t in any hurry, while I went through the steps to reset it for him.
Recently, on my blog, I posted this experience: Sister Jones is a family history consultant in Connecticut. I was working with her on the phone from 10-11pm. It is not unusual for me to work on the phones that late at night, but it is very unusual for the caller to be on the east coast. She had her patrons with her and as fast as I could give her information, she absorbed it and implemented it. I was so thrilled to be able help with this multi-faceted problem. I felt very blessed as the Spirit guided me in the way I should help.
Later, she wrote me a note that said in part:
I was wondering how I could let you know how much I learned last night and how much I appreciated your help.
I love this work and have been using nFS almost since inception. I truly believe this program puts us on the precipice of the millennium. Our obligation through covenants we've made is to clean-up the existing files so they are ready to be presented in the Holy Temples. This will allow our next generation to continue on without wasted time, energy, money, and efforts. Doing duplicate work will become a thing of the past. Collaborative efforts will bring accurate and complete files. With each generation of this program I see the Lord's hand. Oh I just love the work.
Thank you again for the wonderful lesson last night.
There are many people, probably most, serving in the church where their service is under-appreciated. In this service, I am not one of them as you can tell. Like Sister Jones, I am so privileged to be able to see and receive blessings while working with others.
My favorite caller to date was last weekend, a family history consultant from Matthews, NC, my very own daughter, Tricia. When we finished, she said, perhaps tongue in cheek? “Mom, you are still teaching me things.”
I do love my mission, however, in November, I took care of my mother post cancer surgery and logged significantly less hours than normal. In December, many of the patrons took time off. It has been good this month to be back to the full commitment of my missionary service again.
Years ago, President Hinckley was asked about the symbol of our religion, or rather, the lack thereof (in reference to the crucifix). He responded, and an article was published in the April 1995 Ensign entitled Our One Bright Hope:
We cannot do a good and gracious and generous act without burnishing more brightly the symbol of Him whose name we have taken upon ourselves. Our lives must become a symbol of meaningful expression, the symbol of our declaration of our testimony of the living Christ the Eternal Son of the living God. It is that simple, my brothers and sisters. It is that profound, and we should never forget it. The lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith.
If there were a symbol of our faith, I daresay, it would be a missionary tag. My husband served his mission in Peru, in the olden days before the MTC and before missionary tags. He has always wanted one though, and we have planned since our courtship to serve a mission together one day. As it turns out, our three oldest daughters graduated from college and married without serving missions, so I am the first one in our family to wear The Badge. You will notice that service missionaries wear their badges on the opposite side, their right rather than their left side. We are asked to wear it at all church meetings. However, I will be the first to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be able to wear this badge without the support and recommendation of my husband who occasionally walks into my kitchen as the stake president.
There are many ways to serve and I am grateful for this opportunity at this time in my life. I bear my testimony that this is the true church, and it is a marvelous work and a wonder in which we are engaged.