First full week in our mission assignments

25 September 2016

So, we are finally getting settled into the mission and to our assignments. What Bob and I are primarily doing is called auditing. The section we’re assigned to is auditing periodicals (mostly genealogical publications that each focus on a different surname). These records have already been digitized and catalogued by others and we are one of the final steps before they become available on-line for research. We look at each entry to verify information and, if needed, made corrections or add descriptions that may help researchers. (Again, I’m reminded of the scripture that admonishes us to have records “worthy of all acceptation.”)
We work at terminals with two monitors so we can have the original doc up on one screen and review the information about it on the other screen. While there is, naturally, an element of the mundane in what we’re doing, I find that the spirit of it is a lot like doing family history research. There is joy in doing it.
I am also being trained in scanning. There is a push to complete the digitization of all paper records, so I’m helping with that.  The records I scanned and recorded this week were from the Philippines. 
They have plans for Bob to start doing some programming (in addition to auditing) next week. They seem delighted to have someone on board with his skills.
Another couple who came in with us is also assigned to audit records, but, they are doing visual audits of images being sent in from around the world. There are 56 different places in the world where records are being filmed and those films are sent in to Salt Lake for processing. Once they arrive, they’re reviewed for readability. Auditors don’t have to be able to read Chinese, or Latvian, etc., they just have to see that the image is clear, in focus, and legible. If any of the images need to be re-shot, they’re sent back for correction.
Until we got here, I had no idea of the scope of the work being done behind the scenes to provide us with the many records we have available to search. (And, of course, everyone who is indexing is helping with this work, too.)
On Friday, a couple in our area who are leaving the mission next month, gave us their tickets to the Saturday morning session of General Conference next week! They said they were able to go this past April, so they offered them to us. I'm so happy we get to be there, live, for at least one session! Also, Bob has a ticket for the Priesthood Session Saturday night.
Thursday evening and Friday morning we saw a big shift in the weather. (It was in the 80s on Wednesday but was 48 degrees by Friday. Friday morning we could see the snow on top of the mountains near us. (We were told there was 6”-8” on the mountain, though, in the valley we just got a cold rain.)
View from our little balcony.
We attended a free concert at the Assembly Hall Friday night. It was a husband and wife team who play piano duets. They were truly exceptional! Lovely evening,
I experienced my own special little miracle Saturday evening. I really wanted to be in the conference center for the Women’s Session of Conference, but, I didn’t have a ticket. Our Stake Relief Society had a pre-conference meal and social at the stake center across the street, so I went to that, prepared to watch the broadcast in the chapel. However, after we ate, I felt prompted that I should walk over to the conference center and I’d be able to get in. (I had heard that people without tickets can often get in, but, usually its to fill seats after the session has begun, so I was thinking I’d probably have to wait a while to get in.) When I got to the conference center, I walked up to a man with an official-looking badge near the ticket office. Just as I reached him, another sister approached him and asked, “If I have an extra ticket, would I give it to you?” He said, “Oh, no. It wouldn’t work to give it to me.” So, I said, “Actually, I came here in the hopes of getting a ticket. Would you be willing to give it to me?” She said, “Sure!” and handed me the ticket. I was able to go right in, and I even had a pretty good seat. (Not in the nosebleed sections) I was thrilled! It felt like the Lord had provided that ticket just for me. A real blessing!
When we came out on our mission, I think most people assumed we’d be serving in the Family History Library. However, of the 13 who were in our group, only one is at the library. Four of us are auditing digital images, three have been assigned to the temple records zone, and, one is in the World-Wide Security zone. (She answers queries from around the world that have been translated for her.) One couple, I’ve mentioned before, are working with International Translation Services. And, two sisters are assigned to help in the Mission Office. (Still, others keep leaving, and there are needs in every zone for more senior missionaries!)
Another little tidbit before I end: When we were at the concert Friday night, the couple who were sitting next to me, struck up a conversation, and it turns out that we know the same people in a couple of different states. It’s a small world in the church! This couple served a mission in Salem, Missouri (near Rolla) a few years ago, and a friend of ours was the branch president while they were there. And, then we learned that the wife’s sister is someone we know from Texas! As they were leaving, the man handed me a card. Turns out, his name is Clark Gable!  LOL!

We Have our Mission Assignments

18 September 2016
Its been another great week in what our mission president likes to call, “The Best Mission in the World!” :-)
We completed our training Friday morning, and during a special “Go Forth” meeting, in the chapel, right afterward, each of us new missionaries learned our mission assignment. Bob and I are assigned to serve in the Digital Imaging Processing zone of the mission. (Affectionately known as the DIP) We’ll be on the third floor of the Church Office Building (COB).  So, we’re serving in the DIP, in the COB. 
Church Office Building
We won’t know exactly what our tasks will be until tomorrow, but, we met our zone leaders, Elder and Sister Browning, and learned a little about this part of the mission. The good news is that we will be working Monday-Friday, 7:45 a.m. until 4 p.m., with Saturdays and Sundays off. We feel very blessed! Quite a few other full-time senior missionaries work evenings and some Saturdays, depending upon where they’re serving. Of the 1200 missionaries in our mission, most are senior missionaries. About 90 are young, full-time Elders, and others are part-time Church Service Missionaries. The Church Service Missionaries live locally and come in two or three days a week to help out.
I think I mentioned before that we start each day with a devotional, and Elder Chastain, one of our trainers, told us about something interesting during his devotional thought the other day. He said he and his wife served in this mission (in the Family History Library) four years ago. One day while they were in the library, a man, in his late 50s or early 60s, came in. He had driven from California because he had felt a strong impression that he needed to go to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to find his family. He explained that when he was 16 years old he had become interested in the church and after taking the discussions he chose to be baptized. His mother, however, didn’t like his decision. She packed his clothes in a suitcase, handed it to him, and told him to get out and not come back. His siblings were not allowed to have contact with him and though he wrote home several times, he never received any response. (He learned later that his mother tore up all of his letters.) Just after he started talking, another man walked up and stood nearby, listening to his story. After he finished, the other man put his hand on his shoulder and said, “I am your brother.” (There was a joyful reunion!) It turned out that all of this man’s siblings had eventually joined the church and his brother was in the library that day doing research. He had been on the third floor when he felt strongly that he should go down to the second floor, but, he didn’t know why. He went down and that’s where he found his brother! 
And, the best thing is, these kind of events are not rare. They happen a lot, here. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants our families to be together!
Another great thing from this week was the talk by our mission president, Pres. Tate, at our “Go Forth” meeting Friday. He said a few years ago he was serving as an area seventy, and was asked to accompany Elder David A. Bednar for the creation of a new stake and the calling of a new stake president. Elder Bednar taught him that Doctrine & Covenants, chapters 6-9, is the best place to go to learn about revelation. Pres. Tate pointed out and expounded on several verses for us and, then, told us how he and Elder Bednar had worked together in the selection of that stake president. It really was interesting and inspiring.
Pres. Tate assured us that the same process had been used in determining where each of us would serve. And, I feel confident that Bob and I have been assigned where we are most needed.
On Friday, after we all got our assignments, the mission presidency and their wives, all of us new missionaries and some of the trainers went to the temple together. The Salt Lake Temple is massive! (I only got lost twice, though!) And, it is amazingly beautiful!! I’m so glad we were able to go.
One scripture that has left a real impression on me this week is the latter part of verse 24 in D&C 128. It says, “Let us offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” The “worthy of all acceptation” part has really stayed with me — and helped reinforce for me the need for plenty of correct documentation and for including reasons for everything you do in
In this mission, we’re each given one day a month off that we can use for our own family history research and temple work. We love it! The Family History Library is just a couple of blocks down the street from us, and the temple is directly across from that. I doubt we’ll ever be anywhere else, again, where doing this work is more convenient! And, our better understanding of is making it easier than ever to find family and do the work. 

With Gen. Conference coming in just a couple of weeks, I found this photo of the conference center on-line. The building in the background, at the top of the photo, just right of center, is the apartment building we live in. (Although we’re on the 7th floor, on the back side of the bldg., and can’t see the conference center from our place, we walk out the front door on that side of the building every morning and cut across part of the (paved) conference center grounds to report to our mission assignments.) Thought you might like to see. (If we're able to snag any tickets for General Conference, all we have to do it walk across the street!)