Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Role of Senior Missionaries in Genealogy

On Saturday, 19 July 2014, the LDSChurch News published a rather detailed article entitled "Family History Missions 101." The article appeared in the Deseret News Supplement called Mormon Times that includes a copy of the LDSChurch News publication. Although we did not live in Utah, we subscribed to the LDSChurch News by regular mail for years. More recently, for the last two or so years, the LDSChurch News was included with the larger, regular newspaper format Mormon Times. Lately, both were delivered to our driveway in Mesa every Saturday. Now that we live in Provo, we get the two publications delivered every Saturday, just as was happening in Mesa, Arizona. I understand that for residents of Utah, it was necessary to subscribe to the Deseret News, a regular daily newspaper, in order to receive the LDSChurch News with the Saturday edition. I believe that this was modified to present subscription method.

OK, that said, the LDSChurch News is an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The article gives detailed information about both the experience of being a Church Service Missionary or a Full-time Missionary involved in the Church's family history work. I have been a Church Service Missionary for the past nine years or so. Until we moved to Provo, this year, I served at the Mesa FamilySearch Library (formerly called the Mesa Regional Family History Center). My service there as a missionary was one of the most satisfying and important experiences of my life. During my time serving at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, I had the privilege of teaching classes and helping patrons with their genealogy questions. For some of those years, my wife also choose to serve at the Mesa FamilySearch Library.

The Mesa FamilySearch Library is one of 15 such FamilySearch Libraries, mostly located in the western United States with one in London, England. In Mesa, we had approximately 150 missionaries and volunteers. The Family History Centers and Libraries around the world are open to everyone, giving free access to genealogical materials and the FamilySearch Online Portal to a number of usually paid genealogy subscription websites. We had thousands and thousands of patrons come to the Mesa FamilySearch Center every year. The volunteers and missionaries were some of the kindest and most dedicated people I have ever known. It was a comfortable place to be and like a home-away-from-home.

As the LDSChurch News article points out,
There are three different types of family history missionary experiences to help accommodate a variety of life circumstances. Members can serve a family history mission away from home, close to home or directly from home. “If a missionary wants to serve a full-time mission away from home... for 18 to 24 months, we offer that experience,” said Art Johnson, Recruiting & Workforce Development Manager with the Family History Department. “If they want to serve locally in their community, we have those service experiences available. If they want to serve from home, we offer that, as well.”
Since we lived in Mesa, close to the Library, we were able to live at home and work and participate in family activities while serving. When I began my service, I was still working full-time as a trial attorney in a larger law firm. After I retired from the active practice of law, I was able to devote more time to genealogy and helping at the Mesa FamilySearch Library. The Directors of the Library were always extremely accommodating to my sometimes chaotic schedule of presentations around the country in genealogy conferences. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

When we moved Provo, Utah about a month ago, we immediately began serving at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. This Library is actually part of the BYU Libraries and not a FamilySearch Library like the Mesa facility. But the missionary work and genealogy are just the same. My wife and I are both serving and we have had the same warm welcome and the same wonderful people that we loved and worked with in Mesa.

If you are in a position to volunteer time during the week to work with and learn about genealogy, take the time to read the entire article and also see the information on on Family History Missionary Opportunities. In addition, many of the Libraries and Centers have volunteers helping with valuable service. Even if you do not have time to commit to a mission, you can still volunteer and volunteers do not even have to be members of the Church.

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