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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Family History Mission: Half Way Point

No. 63

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.

Yes, we are at the half-way point in our mission. We have a lot of great experiences and done a lot of work. We have had a great association with the other missionaries working at the Maryland State Archives and have started hearing from those who will replace us later this year. In many ways, I am glad we came. Our experience so far has been appreciably different than any of my preconceptions or imaginations. Since we are now halfway through, I decided to return to some of the distinctions between our mission experience and the young missionaries or even Senior Missionaries who are serving in other capacities. 

First of all, we have the time and the opportunity to live our very senior lives. We have a car to maintain, an apartment to live in and maintain, we have to feed ourselves and maintain all of our usual very active daily lives. Being on a FamilySearch mission, we follow the direction of both the Mission President and our FamilySearch Supervisors. However, because we are digitizing records at a major archive, our contact with the other full-time missionaries, both old and young, is severely limited. We work 8+ hours five days a week; essentially a full-time job. What we do is work and we are tired at the end of the day. We have found that returning to full-time work leaves us with little energy on some days to do much else. So far we have been blessed and able to keep working. 

We can volunteer and help as we see the need to do so, but we are not necessarily obligated to work more than the time we spend at the Archives. In addition, because we are serving in a state-run government facility, we do not wear our missionary name tags. We have FamilySearch Volunteer name tags that identify us as volunteers at the Archives. We are not supposed to proselyte or discuss religion with the employees of the Archives unless they initiate the questions or comments. We are very aware that we are guests in the Archives and try to avoid causing any possible bad feelings on the part of the Archives' employees. In addition, because we work with old records, we get quite dirty and we are also asked to not wear the tradition "missionary" attire. We can wear clothes that are appropriate for the work we are doing. These guidelines may be different for other missionaries depending on their assignments. Most Senior Missionaries wear name tags and dress according to missionary standards. 

In addition to our work in the Archives, we are involved in the local Spanish Speaking Branch where we attend on Sunday. As part of our activity in the Branch, we have volunteered to teach English classes and help individuals with their family history. We have also taught at a local family history center conference and I am scheduled to teach at some additional family history conferences and participate in some webinars during the coming months. 

We can take off work for doctor's appointments, illnesses, and other essential activities. If family members visit, we can take some time to visit with them and of course, we can talk to our families as often as is needed. While we are working digitizing records, our Senior Missionary guidelines allow us to listen to music or books with earphones. Some missionaries do this and some do not. 

On Saturdays, which is our only day off, we can visit museums and take part in other educational or cultural activities. But it is also our primary day for shopping and other essential activities. We work hard. The Archives are also closed on state and federal holidays so those are also days when we can be involved in other activities. 

In short, we can work hard but we can also participate in many of the activities we had as senior couples at home. Time is passing quickly and we will be back serving in our Ward or as we have for years past, serving as Church Service Missionaries doing family history support activities. 

Serving a full-time mission as a Senior Couple may not be possible for everyone, but there are so many different ways to serve that a missionary experience, either full or part-time, should be the goal of all the members of the Church. There is a new website, part of, that is aimed at Senior Missionaries. See

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