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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Family History Mission: The Missionaries

No. 43

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

One of the major benefits of serving a full-time mission in Annapolis, Maryland is the association we have with the other Senior Missionaries. However, two of the couples we have been serving with are finishing their missions and moving on with their lives. They will be gone in another week and we will be sad at missing their kind help and companionship at the Maryland State Archives. Our group of missionaries tries to meet every Tuesday evening after work at a very good, but small, Mexican restaurant near the Archives for the special half-price tacos. We also live quite close to two of the other couples and have frequent contact.

One thing we have in common is that we are all old. We all have some physical challenges that have crept up on us during the years. But all of us are there at the Archives at close to 7:00 am every day ready to go to work. The flexibility of being Senior Missionaries allows us to take time off for doctors appointments and other necessary activities associated with our physical condition. For me, it is an inspiration to see the dedication of the missionaries despite their physical limitations. Missionary application process includes an extensive physical examination. The application itself requires disclosure of any physical conditions which could limit your ability to perform on a mission. Although, working for approximately nine hours straight be difficult for anyone, the type of work we do is less physically demanding than some other missionary opportunities.

When we are finished working each day we can essentially choose our own activities. However, many of these activities are dictated by the need to survive from day-to-day. We still need to go to stores and buy food. We still need to get our cars repaired and serviced and fueled. In addition, we are encouraged to become involved in the local wards. Our group of missionaries is chosen to split up and attend different wards. My wife and I have chosen to attend the Spanish speaking branch. But during the last few weeks because of our trip to Georgia and because of weather-related issues in Annapolis, Maryland, we have attended meetings in other areas. This has given us an opportunity to help additional people with their family history.

I have chosen to go to the Annapolis Stake Family History Center two or three times a week to help anyone who comes to the Center for help. We've also spent time helping the other missionaries with their family history. We are looking forward to a wider opportunity to work with Spanish speaking members throughout the Mission.

A typical day finds us getting up at 5:30 AM and getting ready to go to work at the Archives. Since we have been in Annapolis, it has been winter and so it is dark. We have also experienced rain, sleet, snow, freezing ice storms, and an occasional nice day. Driving has been a challenge but we are getting used to navigating streets and avoiding being killed. We arrive at the Archives about 7 o'clock and go right to work. Since only one person can operate a camera at a time, we trade-off working on preparing documents and working on the camera. We break for lunch and usually eat together as missionaries. We spent the rest of the afternoon working and leave the Archives around 4 o'clock.

We work one half of the day on Friday and we are off on Saturday. Of course, we attend church on Sunday and any other scheduled meetings. We've enjoyed a number of activities with the stake and ward members. Some of the missionaries provide rides to the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. The Midshipmen are only allowed off the base for short periods of time and they do not have their own transportation. So the missionaries are organized to provide rides for them back and forth to church and other activities.

Of course, I still write and maintain an extensive contact with the genealogical community. Before our mission, I was unsure about how I would balance the missionary work with some of my other activities such as writing. But we were always busy in Provo and we just stay busy here.

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