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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Family History Mission: Absorbed Into the Routine

Maryland State Archives Main Reading Room
No. 56

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 or click back through all the posts.

The novelty of being in a new city and working at the Maryland State Archives has merged into a routine. We are so involved in the work as well as the other activities associated with our participation in the Spa Creek Branch (Spanish), that the days fly by and we seem to be facing a new week almost without realizing it. I have been spending two evenings a week at the Annapolis Family History Center. Tuesday I help people with their genealogy and on Wednesday, Ann and I teach English to the Branch members. It turns out that we have a few activities on Thursdays and Fridays and Saturdays and so we are back to Sunday before we realize that time has passed by. 

This coming week, for example, we are presenting at a Conference being held by the Washington, D.C. Family History Center. So we have been preparing our presentations. I think we are the oldest of the five pairs of missionaries, but all of us are tired at the end of each day. There are still a few seats available so you might want to try to come. See 2018 Family History Conference

We have figured out most of the stores and other locations within the city and even the traffic and almost constant emergency sirens are seeming normal. 

But what about the work. Digitizing records is the one thing that does not become routine. Every book is different and preparing the documents is always a constant series of discoveries and surprises. We have to concentrate all the time we are working so the hours pass almost without notice. We trade off between preparing or prepping documents and digitizing books so we work for about 2 or 3 hours at a stretch on one task and then trade off. Working with a group of missionaries is extremely helpful. We also get together for lunch almost every day for a short period of time. 

Before coming on our mission, we watched all the Church videos about Senior Missionaries. Our work and experience as missionaries do not seem to fit into any of the experiences depicted by the videos. Living in a large city requires trips to the stores to buy food, doctor visits, car maintenance, and other day-to-day activities that take a significant effort and time. We also have to spend the usual time cleaning our apartment, washing clothes, eating, washing dishes, and all the other normal activities of life. We do attend a small Branch of the Church and we have an increasing interaction with the members of our Branch. My wife, Ann, has been helping in the Primary. We both help people find their ancestors in the Family History Center during Sunday School time and we give talks and participate in the classes. We have gotten to know a number of members of the Branch and had some very enjoyable dinner invitations. 

In short, we continue to function in all aspects of our lives while serving 40+ hours a week digitizing documents. The work at the Archives is challenging. Two of the Senior Missionaries are very capable engineers. They have been called upon to fix the computers, design and implement the work areas including some complicated construction projects and organize and the workflow. It is a great blessing to have their particular talents and expertise available to solve problems. We have also organized the various responsibilities and given everyone a chance to use their particular talents. During the past few weeks, we have gone through a major restructuring and relocation of the volunteers' activities in preparing the documents. This has also taken a great deal of effort and continues to take a significant amount of time. 

It is a great blessing to be able to do valuable service for those who cannot help themselves, but it is challenging. 

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