Before we talk about Ninjas, a few notes:
1) Many thanks to Elder Quentin Cook for the shout-out last week. During his closing address at Women’s Conference at BYU, he specifically mentioned my blog post, “I’m Sorry Elijah, But I Really Need to Get Some Sleep.” It was a proudly humble moment. Also, it was fun knowing that a bunch of my most attractive readers were busy messaging me on Facebook to tell me about it while Elder Cook was speaking to them. That is loyalty.
2) Thanks to the folks at FamilySearch who linked to the same article on their Facebook page. There are some really wonderful people busily doing the work of salvation over there. (Even though some of them are goofy. Ahem, Chris, Rob.)
3) I am aware that 5 of my last 6 posts have now been about Family History, but I promise that this is not evolving into a Family History blog. I will return to my normal inconsistent prattle after this post, but I will revisit the topic from time to time because it is important, and now a part of my life. I also appreciate the new friends that have come on board recently, and the many kind comments and the much sharing of my posts that has gone on.
4) Get ready for an exciting announcement on Friday morning! You are gonna love it!
Now, back to Accidental Family History Ninja.
I didn’t mean to get heavy into Family History, let alone be a spokesman for the cause. I was merely trying to find some names so I could take my kids to the temple to do some baptisms. That, and a side of obedience. It was not part of a big plan to become a serious genealogist.
It was a happy accident. Every step in the process, from discovery to ordinance has been a wonderful new adventure.
Why a Ninja?
My research has been done with ruthless efficiency under the cover of darkness. Late at night, while the family is sleeping nearby, I silently enter the FH world, and work to dispatch souls from prison…
I know there are lots of people who actually know what they are doing, and have made it a lifetime quest to acquire remarkable genealogical skills, and further the work. I applaud them – but I am not that guy. Between family, work, church, and other commitments, I do not have the time to work on this stuff as much as I would like. I plan on using some of the time I normally waste on Facebook, or watching TV, and finding time on long Sunday afternoons to continue my work, but life prohibits me from doing it as much as I would like.
I am more of a hit-and-run genealogist.
To help wrap up this two-week flurry of learning, I want to share a few thoughts about the Family History process.
1) Indexing. Some dear soul who indexed a marriage certificate broke the logjam that freed up my ancestors. Even those who have the good fortune of having completed lines can always do indexing. No one can honestly say their work is “all done,” because they can always do something. Indexing is also great if you only have a few minutes here and there. To do it, go here: https://familysearch.org/indexing/
2) Ancestry.com. Yes, I sprung for $20 to log into Ancestry.com. It helped, at a very cost-effective rate of $1.10 per soul (so far). Not a bad return for something so valuable. Rumor has it that LDS folks will begin getting free access to Ancestry, and some of the larger sites later this summer. I’ll keep you posted. (http://home.ancestry.com)
3) The Online Generation. It turns out I had already acquired some skills that proved to be very valuable in collecting FH data. Anyone who has spent a lot of time on a computer, and online, automatically has an advantage in this work. Why? Searching. If you are a master at finding what you need on Google, or another search engine, this stuff is already second nature. Also, the ability to juggle multiple browser pages and tabs makes it much more efficient. If you don’t know the technology, learn it. If you already know it, you will find this all remarkably easy.
I completely understand the Brethren’s call for our youth to get involved in the work – they were born into this technology, and already have the tools.
“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.” (Elder David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn.”)
Last week I had a friend searching for a missing ancestor. Using nothing but Google, I was able to find his ancestor’s maiden name, as well as names of her parents and siblings. Where? I found an old obituary from a newspaper in Texas. With that information, he was off to the races. By the next day, he was back to the 1700s. Ninja skills? Possibly. Knowing how to give Google a good workout? Probably.
4) Family Search. You know, it really is wonderful. From starting your tree to printing name submittals for the temple, it is smooth and remarkably intuitive. The changes they have made over the years have improved on it so much. Props to the people behind the tech. I especially love the “Possible Duplicates” search feature to help clean up duplicate records. It was been smooth as silk. The only “glitches” I seem to have are crashed with Safari, so I use Google Chrome.
5) The Spirit of Elijah. It is very real. In this short period of time I have felt it impacting my simple efforts. Twice last week I woke up in the morning with ideas of how to solve a logjam that immediately paid off. It is intensely spiritual, and intensely personal, as I mentioned in my post last Sunday, “It All Became Real.”
There you go – some insight from a FH newbie, inviting you to get on board. Even if it is Ninja-style in the dark of night, or 15 minutes of indexing while the baby takes a nap.
We can all do something, and the payoff is priceless.
And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (D&C 18:16)
Check in Friday for a special announcement!