Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The beginning of my Family History Obsession, in a NUTSHELL?!? Warning: there is no such thing as nutshell in my world

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), otherwise known as the Mormon church, and have been my whole life.  I come from a split family where I had the opportunity to learn different ways of life growing up.  My mother and step-father were members of the LDS church and my father and step-mother were non-denominational and Catholic, respectively.

As a member of the LDS church, who also grew up in Utah, I was taught the importance of doing Genealogy work my whole life, but still at large I missed the boat on the whole process until recently.  I was living in Virginia in 2011 when my sister decided it would be a good idea to make a life story book of my grandmother's life, to give to my mom for Christmas.  Six months and countless hours later, we presented my mom with my most cherished piece of work in this life; a beautiful and thoroughly researched compilation of my grandmother's life entitled "The Life and Legacy of Thelma Gilbert Chatterton", a woman who I loved dearly, and have missed almost daily since her passing.  Around the same time as we finished the book, I was released from my Young Women's calling.  Devastated at first, I thought I was going to be the most bored person in our small little rural town in eastern Virginia, but I soon turned to my other calling (which honestly had been put on the back burner previously) Public Relations Representative for the Ward.  While pondering how I could continue to actively involve myself in the midweek activities at church, I came up with the idea of offering a Genealogy Class to the general public of the area.  Truth be told, I didn't think we'd get many responses, but I posted an ad in a free circular that is distributed quarterly in our small town.  To my surprise, I was wrong.  We filled our class within a few weeks and were worried we may end up having to turn people away.

This presented a new problem. Due to my lack of faith in the communities interest in the subject, I hadn't done much checking around for people to teach, and I had advertised the class as "come learn from experts", OOPS!  I quickly found that "experts" were sparse in the whole stake let alone the ward.  So during my 1 month to prepare I quickly realized that I was going to need to become an "expert" and fast.

So since the church sponsors FamilySearch, and we had a FamilySearch Family History Center right there in our church house, I decided to start there.  I'm pretty confident that I watched every single beginner video available on the FamilySearch site and beyond.  This is actually when I become acquainted with RootsTech, my one true genealogy love.  During my searching I stumbled across the recorded sessions from last years conference (2012) and watched as many as I could make time to watch.  The Google presentation by Dave Barney was particularly helpful to me as I was trying to figure out techniques to teach my soon to be genealogy class.

So my first 4 week session of classes came and went, and was a major success.  The members of the community were super patient with me & even helpful as I wore my "lack of know how" on my sleeves.  But I came out of it with a lot more knowledge and I even think I helped some of them in the process.  Most became patrons of the Family History Center following the classes.

Shortly after that class was held I organized a 2nd session with an even larger turnout.  This time I was able to involve some of the members of the ward and ended up with more than double the size of the class of the first.  Around the time it was scheduled to start, I was also called  to be the new Family History Center Director.

As you can imagine, this quickly began consuming my life, if it hadn't already, and I'm not sure that it hadn't.  But the condition of the center was, run incorrectly for sometime, and with the major advances and changes that were in the works with FamilySearch, it really felt like it was dated in many ways.  The director who had previously been in, by his own admittance, didn't know much about genealogy and really just opened the door during operating hours, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do beyond that, so it needed some work put into it.

I would say that this is where my addiction/obsession life became consumed with getting things operating smoothly there in our little center, and doing it absolutely correctly.  I'll admit I probably ruffled a few feathers along the way, no, I definitely did, but I felt a strong urgency and importance to getting that center running correctly.  I didn't find out why until a little over a month later, in July of 2012, my husband applied, received, & accepted a job in a rural town in Utah.

We moved to Utah in less than a month, and looking back now on those 6 or so months, my heart was completely and fully changed.  I learned, believed and came to experience the importance of not only Genealogy work but also and possibly more importantly Family History work.  However with all the countless hours I was investing into learning the ins and outs, I certainly didn't have time to even think about addressing my own personal genealogy work, I was too consumed with my calling.  This is why I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life when my husband got the job in Utah, where my roots are.

Don't get me wrong, I was nervous, no terrified to move back to Utah.  I had found my "purpose" there in Virginia and I was good at it, I also had created friendships that I didn't know if I was prepared to leave behind, and as a married couple my husband and I had never lived close to family, so the thought of dealing with the challenges that were sure to come from that was terrifying.  BUT I knew and he knew that it was exactly what we were supposed to do, and it was in fact something that we had wanted to do for a while, the realty was just a bit more scary than the idea of it.

So onto Utah we came, and that is how I got started.  :)

1 comment:

  1. I love your story. When God closes one door He always opens another. You opened my world Saturday to a new life and the answers to some very pressing prayers. Thanks Olivia.