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Service Projects for Youth

Displayed prominently on the front page of the new.familysearch.org page is the promise that in 30 minutes you can help people connect with their ancestors. The best part is that you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.

Now, before you close this window, stick with me here. I am the average, typical Mormon Mommy—I completely Zone Out when I hear the words Family History. But, I have some important words to share, so stick around.

Family History Indexing is the simple process of extracting names from digital images of historical documents and creating online searchable indexes from the previously gathered information and anyone with an internet connection can participate.

Currently there are 150,000 volunteers that do basic data entry for the church from their home computers—inputting census records into their online system so that everyone around the world can access these documents. The goal of the Family Search Department is to increase those volunteers to 175,000 volunteers in the year 2011.

That is something that each of us can do from home in 30 minutes and further it’s a project that is easy for youth to do for their Young Women projects or Eagle Scout Projects.

Family Search told me that they have had multiple Eagle Scout Projects done with Indexing, Laurel Projects as well as Family Home Evenings where an entire family sets up their computers and for 30 minutes they index census records. They told me about a less active couple that was struggling to stay married and they were counseled to start doing Indexing together. Which, frankly sounds like a strange way to “save a marriage” yet the couple says they felt a change happen inside them as they started doing the indexing… they felt their hearts changing not only about their feelings regarding the church, but also about each other. They say Indexing saved their marriage.

They told me about a family who had a fifteen year old boy who was constantly playing video games and was incredibly ornery. His behavior was disrupting the family, so the parents came up with a plan. They made a rule that for every 30 minutes he did indexing he could have 30 minutes of video game time. As you can guess, he threw a major fit for an entire week, but the parents did not back down. After three months of indexing, the boy wasn’t playing video games any more. The parents quietly noted this and the son responded that he felt so much better when he indexed than when he did playing video games. “And, it’s fun”, he said.

I know, right?

I was really interested in this whole process, so I had my 15 year old daughter do some indexing and I was pleasantly surprised with her response to the whole process: She loved it! She started asking me questions about our family—she wanted to know about who she was most like and what they were like.

Could this be what the scripture “Turning the hearts of the Children to their Fathers” actually means?

I also gave it a whirl in my hotel room last night and I was surprised with not only how easy it is, but how I felt as I did it.  It was calming. It was peaceful and I found myself thinking about MY family.

It only took me 30 minutes and I was helping with Family History . . . I was DOING it. And further I liked it.

If you are a youth leader, a parent, or even a grandparent please consider Family History Indexing as a project for you all to participate in. You will be pleasantly surprised with how simple it is—30 minutes per batch—and not only that, you will feel “the hearts of the children turning to their fathers” as you and the youth in your charge participate in this activity.

It's just one simple, easy way that we can participate in Family History. Let someone else chase the dates, and  you input them into the computer.

We all like to play on the computer-- why else would we spend so much time blogging? Take the challenge-- try indexing and see what you think. You never know, you just might like it.

For more information about Indexing for Family Search please visit indexing.familysearch.org

 
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