Friday, February 17, 2012

To Turn the Hearts

A lot of talk at the last Rootstech Conference held in Salt Lake City recently swirled around the 1940 Census. (Check out the embedded link- they posted videos of some of the presentations, and also made the syllabi which you usually have to purchase at genealogy conferences available as a download.)

The US Census Bureau and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have coordinated efforts to make the 1940 Census available for public viewing, Monday, April 2, 2012. 
That's just around the corner.

If you are LDS, our church has encouraged members to sign up in preparation to index the 1940 census. (Transcribing it, thus making it searchable so we can find our ancestors.) 
The plan is to have the entire 1940 Census indexed within 6 months of its release.
That's a pretty challenging goal!

I signed up to help index the 1940 Census out of Hawai'i, and encourage people to do the same for their home states. 

With Hawai'i, I've found if the Census agents weren't familiar with the different languages (we being a very diverse state), they often misspelled names of people and locations. 

AND I have noticed the same for people transcribing records (though the church actually has a high accuracy rate since they have a check system in place- meaning another person will double check your transciprtion).
 It think it's better if people familiar with the types of names and places of their locale, work on their home areas, so sign up!...Plus, you never know if you come across family while indexing. :)

As far as indexing goes, I actually only started indexing. Mainly because my mother, who lives in Star, Idaho, started. (Her nearest temple is closed, so to stay involved in genealogy she started indexing after taking a class her ward taught.)

In the past the tendency was to introduce Family History by having people index, and having our youth focus on indexing. It's a very simple process to get started. You can take a test drive. And if you need in person help, come to your local Family History Center. (You'll be fine, but sometimes we feel better when someone is sitting right there in case we have questions.)

Not until the Assistant Coordinator to Family History in our ward, Sister Laughlin, also taught a lesson (we take turns - so all the Family History Consultants have an opportunity to share their insights. You might want to consider that since different people will reach different members of the ward) and talked about indexing did I realize something cool about indexing.

Indexing gives people instant gratification so they want to do more indexing, AND since they learn indexing technology quickly, they realize they are capable of using the technology to do their Family History.

Of course, indexing serves a vital purpose in helping people find their dead by making transcribed vital statistic records searchable.

For us as members to prepare ordinances for the temple, having vital statistic information available is essential.

I also found, after indexing some Arkansas military registration cards with Sister Browning, another Family History Consultant in our ward, that it makes us feel closer when we do it together, and we learn interesting era information. 

Plus, the more you work with old records, the easier it will be to work with old records related to your family.
My deciphering of flowery cursive handwriting has improved enormously over the years in working with vital statistic records for my own family and researching for others.

I have to admit, this is a change in my attitude. I have always been more interested in people actually doing their own family history, and pushed for the youth to do that as well. (Our youth are capable of anything. Since so much of Family History nowadays involves a comfort with technology, they have a leg up on us in that area. My kid was changing my screen backgrounds to Piccachu at 2 years old, whereas I struggled to figure out how to change it back. I think the main thing youth need from the older generations is the spirit of Elijah- that strong desire to know and seek after our kupuna/ancestors...What a difference knowing their family heritage makes for our youth! To see our individual choices as part of a legacy often changes how we use our choices. We realize we are not just isolated anonymous beings whose choices affect just ourselves. We realize they affect our past, present, and future family.)

Having Elder Bednar speak on the importance of youth doing their actual genealogy this past October General Conference and then Elder Yamashita of the 70 who came for our most recent Stake Conference also reiterate impressions I've had and show me the To Turn the Hearts DVD (created a year ago, but it wasn't made available til the end of January 2012 to view. I was so happy when I saw this at the end of January) confirmed those feelings I have about how Family History affects the living too.

I am so thankful for the clarity of the message in this DVD which powerfully shows how Family History strengthens and heals the living by following real families and individuals with real struggles over time.

We had planned to have a Family Search representative come and hold a stake wide fireside for the Bishoprics and auxiliary leaders of all the wards this month before the DVD came out, and hope still to do that.
In a way I am glad that we waited since now we can just show them the DVD! My copies of the DVD are disappearing from our ward as the other Family History Consultants in the stake borrow them as they wait for their wards to order them.

Mainly, I can see how all wards, being so concerned with the challenges our living  families face might see Family History as another program which falls lower on the priority list....

I am so thankful that the To Turn the Hearts DVD shows how actually Family History accomplishes the goals  Bishops and auxiliary leaders have in helping living families

Genealogy helps heal living families.
It's that simple.

Of course, we, living within a few minutes of the temple, are very fortunate to be able to take advantage of the temple on a regular basis.

I went the other night with Sister Yazzie in my Ward, taking an ancestor of my daughter's.
While Sister Yazzie and I went to do a session with the Midsingles, my daughter Sweet did baptisms. 

It was awesome.

Sweet and I came out feeling so happy and relaxed and positive. Such a great night!

The amazing thing about the temple, is how it does put things into a more eternal perspective, and the petty feelings and worries we have take their proper place, allowing us to be able to feel hope gratitude, and peace about life.

But temple worship is just part of the equation. Temple attendance needs to go hand in hand with Family History work. Both are rewarding in and of themselves, but people who have combined them, know how profound their experiences become- How much closer they feel as a living family (especially as you attend the temple with family members and with names of your kupuna/ancestors- I try to go with Sweet to do baptisms. We are never too old to do baptisms and recall our own baptisms and baptismal covenant.:), how more connected they feel with their kupuna, and how much closer they feel as a family as a whole (living and dead) to Heavenly Father.

I know it doesn't seem fair to people who don't live nearby a temple. I do remember as a child the sacrifice Ho'olehua Ward members back on Moloka'i had to make to attend the temple- airline tickets, shipping or renting a car, finding a place to stay, food, etc.

It makes me feel like I should make sure to take advantage of the temple here. How grateful I should be. Once a month to go to the temple was a goal I had in California. Once a week is what we have here. 

We don't always make it. Sometimes we go more, sometimes we go less. But it's good to have a goal and make time for that peace.

If you don't live by a temple, even if you don't have a temple recommend, you can still participate in temple work as a member. Get a account, start your family history. Submit names directly to the temple for ordinance work to be done, or if you want, print off the request and have your ward family or dear friends help by taking the names. (Gosh, I love the people who have taken names for us. Missionaries in our stake, friends, members in our ward. I feel close to them when they serve my family.)

And you can index!
This is what my mom does since the Boise Temple has been closed for renovations.

Our ward goal is 500 batches this month....This might be a challenge since nobody knows that's our ward goal. Hahaha. But they will by this weekend. And it's totally doable. 

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