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

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Family History Mission: Some Observations So Far

No. 15

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

So far, our mission has been an extraordinary experience. Whenever we are faced with change and uncertainty, we can become apprehensive and concerned. But so far, everything, even the difficult parts of our mission has been positive and uplifting. If you have read any number of my blog posts, you know that I tend to comment about nearly everything. Here are a few comments so far in no particular order and not about any particular topics.

In past trips across the United States around Christmas time, we have seen thousands of homes with Christmas lights. This time, we saw almost no Christmas decorations or lights on individual houses. The absence of lights became noteworthy.

The Missionary Training Center is one of the most remarkable places and one of best experiences we have had for a long time. The organization of the whole MTC experience was incredible. The spiritual content of the training and instruction was almost overwhelming. Everything about the experience was fascinating. We loved the experience and were glad to have come on a mission so far just because of our experience in the MTC.

One of the best parts of coming on a mission has been the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. We have found helpful, kind people both among the Church members and other missionaries as well as from people who we have met along the way. Some people have gone out of their way to be helpful to us as strangers whom they had never seen before. We have been the recipients of many acts of kindness. One example, since we had a mixup in our apartment address, we have had to worry about mail. My wife saw the mailman delivering mail to the apartments and told him about our plight. He kindly remembered the problem and delivered some of the mislabeled mail that had already arrived to our new correct mailbox.

We are adjusting to the intense traffic experience. We have lived and driven in Panama City, Panama and other places such as Utah Valley with terrible traffic issues, but Washington, D.C., and Annapolis raise the experience to monumental proportions. The traffic here is not just bad, it is incredibly bad. In addition, parking is also a nightmare in some areas.

Our apartment turns out to be very nice and certainly adequate for our needs for a year. I miss the wonderful view of the forest out my window in Provo, but I am overall happy to be here.

We were told many times about how beautiful it is in Annapolis, Maryland. Getting here in winter and with the traffic has yet to impress me much.

We love the Maryland State Archives. The people are friendly and the missionaries are wonderful. We had a taste of what the work consisted of in our short visit so far and we are impressed with the ability of the missionaries but a little overwhelmed with the complexity of the entire digital preservation process. Our training at the MTC gave us an overview and some familiarity with the procedures, but to see it from start to finish impresses us with how difficult our learning process will be.

We can now relate to those retired people who are downsizing their housing. When we moved from Mesa to Provo, we actually ended up with a slightly larger house. However, our house in Mesa had far more storage room. But moving to this much smaller apartment is much more of a challenge. However, the apartment is very nice and will work fine.

We haven't had much contact yet with the younger missionaries, but seeing a whole mission's worth of missionaries all at the same time was impressive. They look a lot more mature and older than I remember from my own young missionary experience. They certainly are much better prepared than we were back years ago.

We are trying to resolve all of our present challenges caused by the wrong apartment number etc. and will be ready to go to work the day after Christmas.

The United States is really large and driving across almost the entire country in just a few days is an exhausting experience for us old folks. However, many of the Senior Missionaries appear to be a lot older and have much greater challenges than we do. We are grateful for their wonderful service.

It looks like I am using the word "wonderful" a lot. I will have to think of some more imaginative adjectives. 


  1. You two continue to be an inspiration to us all. We are amazed at how family history work seems to be the great equalizer between all and women everywhere. From the staff and management of The Family History Guide Association we wish you both the best in all things at this Christmas season. We see you as exemplifying the spirit of giving of your time and talents for the betterment of the work. Please keep the adventure posts coming!

  2. Yes, it's wonderful to make new friends on missions and be the recipients of much goodness from others.