Saturday, October 18, 2014

" . . . having obtained a good report through faith"

In accepting the call to serve full-time missions, Ann and I stepped out into the unknown.  We knew nothing about record preservation, yet we were to be "specialists."  We knew only as much about FamilySearch as we had used in our own research and family history work.  We had read some sections of Preach My Gospel before our call, yet it was to be like scripture to us in the broader aspect of our being missionaries.  Indiana was just a place on the map that we'd spent a couple of days in during the 2013 Tabernacle Choir Tour.  Our training at the MTC and in Salt Lake City only scratched the surface of what we would be doing in our specific corner of the vineyard.

Light at the end of the "tunnel," one of Indiana's covered bridges
So many unknowns.  Faith was our only light in the darkness, and it has provided the firm foundation on which we've been able to build.  We are being blessed with success, "obtaining good reports through faith" (Hebrews 11:39) as we grow.

Terabyte drive we send each Friday
We have submitted 106,000 images to the FamilySearch audit team during these first 13 weeks.  Only one has been returned for us to fix--to rotate it 90 degrees.  The glory for such a "good report" goes entirely to God.  We've been prompted by the Spirit to go back and fix errors.  Our attention to detail has been beyond our natural ability.  Physically staying on task for those 8 hours every day is a gift from Heaven.  We've been given insight into how to work with the delicate documents and better control the camera and software.  All this strengthened our faith.

Giving a FamilySearch presentation to the Genealogy Club
We are "strangers in a strange land," yet as we've reached out to the folks around us, trying to enlarge our circle of friends, we have found them in the ward, at the courthouse and in the community.  This has required its own application of faith, going beyond our normal level of comfort.
Rehearsing with the community band

This last week the local paper printed an article about us and our work, another "good report" that came from our dependence on the Lord.

We find our foundation of faith in knowing that God is aware of us, has sent us here, and is giving us support through the Spirit and through the presence of those Indiana pioneers whose records we are preserving.  In the end, it is God's "good report" that we seek, "lifting where we stand" in this work of building his Kingdom. 

Here's the text from the article:

Volunteers Help With County Records

Documents are fading and deteriorating
Some of Montgomery County's vital records date back to the 1820s.  They are deteriorating, yet the county is required by law to preserve the information.  Preserving the actual documents is too costly, and the county doesn't have the manpower to microfilm them all.  To solve this problem, the Montgomery County Chief Deputy Clerk, Valerie Howard, working under the direction of Clerk Jennifer Bentley, has entered into an agreement with FamilySearch to digitally preserve these old documents.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization.  It has the largest archive of historical and genealogical records in the world, over 3 billion documents.  FamilySearch has pioneered industry standards for gathering, imaging, indexing, and preserving records, and shares these resources free of charge worldwide.

Community and LDS Ward worked together to prepare them
During June, a team of volunteers, organized by local genealogy expert Stephen Thompson, prepared the Montgomery County probate records from 1824 to 1888 for photographing.  Since mid-July two record-preservation specialists from FamilySearch have been digitally capturing these records with sophisticated camera and computer equipment.  These specialists are a husband/wife team, Michael and Ann Packham.  They left their retirement in Utah to work 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM every weekday at the courthouse, taking the approximately 180,000 images.  They are doing this at their own expense as a ministry for their faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The process, one prepares and the other captures
At approximately 10,000 images per week, the project is now about half done.  In addition to the probate records, it will also include large indexes of wills and marriages.  After finishing this project the Packhams will continue to serve in other Indiana counties until December, 2015, the end of their 18-month ministerial calling.

The public is invited to the Packhams' corner of the courthouse basement to see the process.  They are also giving presentations about family history and the preservation project to youth, civic, and religious groups, and they are helping individual families get started on their own histories.

County clerks receiving the first 33,000 images from SLC
The images will not only be available through the county clerk's office, but will eventually be online at for use by historians, genealogists, and the descendants of these pioneers of our community.

1 comment:

  1. What a testimony of the help missionaries receive. See Isaiah 40:31 :)


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