Friday, September 30, 2022

Service mission miracles


Kent Gardiner: 26 Sep 2022 

In the LehiFamilySearch Center my wife and I served as missionaries. Once a tall man asked for my help.  His pretty wife sat next to him. After logging in and some pleasantries, Jeff Boon informed me he wanted to do the temple work for his step father. This was an unusual request because they really are not related. For background he told me about growing up in Seattle. His father abandoned the family when he was six weeks old. They lived in the poorest part of Seattle. His alcoholic stepfather, Jack, had three rules for Jeff. First Jeff was too stupid for college. Second he was told to have sex with girls but if she gots pregnant, deny it was your child and third: Someday when Jeff was older, say 35 Jack would meet him in a dark alley and kick the crap out of him. Jack was abusive. He didn't like anyone hugging him or saying the word love. Jack didn't like anyone touching his chair or any of his belonging. There was a lot of yelling in their home over inconsequential things. Jeff often wondered why the neighbors didn't intervene. Jeff left home at 16 to live on the street for two years. His sister followed. 

Eventually Jeff joined the church and had a girlfriend. Her father encouraged Jeff to go on a mission and go to college. Jeff went on a mission to the Dominican Republic. Living the missionary life made him want to be a better person. One day as a zone leader he was in the mission office when he was informed the mission president wanted to talk to him. The mission president told Jeff he had received a vulgar fax from someone called Jack. Jeff explained Jack was his stepfather. The fax included Santa Clause giving an obscene gesture. The mission President said Jeff should inform Jack that unless Jack cleaned up his act Jeff needed to end communication with him. Jeff told the President, No. "The fact Jack is taking the time to send me something is actually a positive thing." That Christmas Jeff called home and Jack answered. Jack asked, "How do you get money for your mission?" Jeff said, "The Ward is paying for it." Jack said how much per month does it cost?" Jeff said, "340 dollars" Jack then said, "I have an idea, let's stick it to the church and I'll pay for your last six months." 

When Jeff got off his mission he met Jack at the airport. In the plane Jeff planned on telling Jack he loved him and wanted to giving him a hug. When they met,  Jack threw his arms around Jeff and said, "I love you."

Today Jeff calls Jack every week. Jeff tells Jack he loves him and Jack tells Jeff he loves him too. A few years ago Jack apologized for his rough treatment of Jeff. Last Christmas Jeff's son, who is on a mission in Argentina, made a 3 way zoom call to Jack and Jeff. Jack was wearing a t-shirt that said, "I'm not an alcoholic, I'm a drunk, alcoholic's go to meetings."

Jeff is a direct line descendant of Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone who appears to be a believing Christian had a granddaughter who married Governor Lilburn Boggs. About thirty years ago Jeff went to the Bountiful Temple and did the work for Governor Boggs. 

Toward the end of our conversation I showed Jeff how to appeal the denial of doing temple work for Jack's ancestors. He was very enthusiastic and said he would make an appeal. Before he left Jeff said he would leave a copy of a book on his life at the front desk and I picked it up the next Friday. 


Kent Gardiner: 10 Oct 2022, a sister missionary had to leave the center early and asked if I could help a woman who was trying to locate her slave ancestors. I said yes and introduced myself to Monica Brown. We worked a while and found a census which said her black great grandmother, Henrietta was married to a supposed slave owner and had been married for forty years. That didn't line up with a small booklet Monica had obtained from a family reunion about 10 years ago but he was encouraged because she found it difficult to find information. Henrietta lived in Louisiana. I told Monica I had a son who went to LSU to orthodontic school. She said "Oh really what is his name?" I said, "Ryan Gardiner." A big smile came over her face and she said, "I know Ryan. I fact I was Luke's primary teacher!!! We were in the same ward! Stephanie had a great influence on our daughter. How are they doing?"

We talked on an on about her husband who was a former Bishop in the area. She said her husband and Ryan loved talking to each other about gospel topics. I took a photo of Monica and myself and sent it to Ryan. He replied back, "We love the Brown's, how in the world did you meet up together?" Then I introduced her to Deborah. They chatted away. I told Monica to contact us when she came back to Utah to visit her children and we will take her out to dinner. She wanted a hug and by that time we were fast friends so we hugged and reluctantly parted.


Sept 2022 Sister Clamell Harper
2 Sept 2022
 A young woman, maybe in her mid-twenties or early-thirties, came to the library with many boxes of slides to digitize. She was quite angry. We started copying the slides, and in doing so we began to visit together. I found the reason for her anger. Her grandfather, who lived in Pleasant Grove, had recently passed away. That day, she had driven from her home in Heber City just to be close to her deceased grandfather in his home. When she got there, her aunts were there cleaning his home in preparation that it might be sold. As she went in, she found ALL of his pictures, slides, documents, journals, audio cassettes, everything in the TRASH! She told her aunts that if they didn’t care about the documents, she wanted them. She gathered all of the items from the trash and then set about trying to digitize everything. 
That morning she copied and placed on a flash drive close to a thousand slides. She will need to come back to scan all of the other things. I testified to her that it was a prompting of the Spirit that she had gone to his home THAT day and at THAT time. She had acted by the power of the Spirit to be part of a marvelous miracle--the miracle to preserve all of the documentation of this man’s life which would have been lost and forgotten. Among the slides were his mission photographs, photographs of the many trips he had taken both with family and trips as part of his work The most valuable, were the many pictures of his family-- children and grandchildren from babies through their school years and marriages. As we witnessed together this great miracle, her heart was softened, and though it demanded much of her personal time, she had been and was continuing to be an instrument in preserving the history of her grandfather. I was blessed to see this miracle!
Sister Clarnell Harper
A man and his wife came with boxes and boxes of slides and photographs even 8 mil film reels. As I listened to their story, I learned and testified to them that what had happened was truly a miracle! Both the husband and his wife had been part of sad divorces many years previously. The man’s had been a very bitter divorce and his ex-wife in her anger, not only tried to turn the children against him, but refused to let him have any of the photographs, his personal journals, or papers. After many years, the bitterness persisted. The man and wife I worked with had been married fifteen years. Because of her kind nature, the now adult children had adopted this woman as their mother. Eventually, the ex-wife discarded several items to Deseret Industries including old journals and photos. Unbeknown to his biological mother, one of her sons had become employed at the DI. One morning as this young man was working, his assignment was to decide what should be done with many items that had been donated for discard or recycling. He came across some things that caught his interest! He called his “adopted” mom on the telephone and said, I thought you might like to look at some of the things that came to the DI today. When his father and she got there, they found his journals and the many, many pictures and slides even 8mm film reels that documented his mission and the lives of his children. Both wept! This was truly a miracle, and they were now digitizing all that would have been lost. I am grateful to have witnessed this blessing.
I am thankful to be a tiny part of the marvelous work of our Lord. I am blessed to be a member of the missionary staff at Lehi Family Search Center. 

Oct 2021 Elder Kimball

My favorite experience that happened at the family history center happened while I was helping a patron with the VHS tapes. Everything was normal until we stuck in her tape and we heard a little girl's voice talking to her family. Instantly, the patron's eyes immediately teared up and her face was lit up with one of those sad but happy smiles. I thought that was interesting, but I didn't want to intrude by asking a question about why the tape was making her cry, so I set everything up and was in the doorway when she spoke. She said that she hadn't seen her daughter's face or heard her voice in over 20 years. Her daughter had died due to a disease when she was young, and they had most lost of the photos they had of her. She thanked me for providing a service where she could see her daughter again. That experience will always stand out to me that family history work is not only for the dead but for the living giving us a chance to see and help our loved ones.

Feb 2022 Sister Ellen McNeil

In November I was working as a Tech in Photos when a grey-haired lady came to help her 86 years-old neighbor with her photo scanning appointment. When they were about finished, the lady said to me that she had taken it upon herself to help the elderly people in her ward scan and digitize all their photos to preserve them for their families. She knew these people weren’t up to date on computers and other technical skills. This was a very big project for her to be taking on…helping these people save precious photos for their posterity. She had started with a lady that was 96 years old. The lady she was working with that day was the sixth one she had helped. Then she said, “The other 5 are dead!” She had helped them just in time!

July 2022 Sister Penny Cutler

Clement Valentine Willey was born on Valentine’s Day in 1889 and was named after his father Clement Willey. We didn't have any information about his wife and family and had spent quite a bit of time looking for them with no results. One day my husband was looking on Ancestry and found an obituary for Clement Valentine. It listed his wife as Olive May Neeskern. The obituary called them "Ollie and Valley Willey" which I thought was so cute. I did some more research and was able to find their marriage date and the names of their three children. Someone had done Ollie's temple ordinances, but they had not been sealed to each other. We printed off their sealing card and put it in a stack with other sealings we needed to do and kind of forgot about it.
Then one afternoon we decided to go do sealings and as we were kneeling at the altar, the sealer read the names of Clement Valentine Willey and Olive May Neeskern. All of a sudden, I realized that it was Valentine's Day, and we were sealing "Ollie and Valley Willey" on Valley's birthday. The spirit was so strong, and I knew that they were there and had accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it was not a coincidence that we were there on Clement Valentine's birthday, and that it was his will that we seal him to his wife on his birthday. It was truly a blessing to have been in the temple that day. 

Sept 2022 Sister Michelle Howell

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to help a patron who came in to print some temple cards. We worked together to find some suitable names for the ordinance work he wanted to do. As he prepared to leave, he looked at my name tag and said "Do you happen to know Jack Howell?" I was stunned. It isn't unusual to be asked questions about whether I am related to others who share my last name, but the conversation doesn't usually go very far. This inquiry, however, left me momentarily speechless. He continued, "Jack Howell was my best friend growing up". I asked him where he grew up. "Salt Lake City", he responded. I asked if he happened to live in the Avenues area. "Oh yes, on Q street!" he replied. I reached for my phone and quickly produced a picture of Jack Howell that I had on my camera roll. "Is this the Jack you are talking about?" I asked him. "Oh I haven't seen that face in ages!" he said with animation and remembrance. "Could you send that picture to me?". He gave me his phone number and I sent the picture. 
To fully appreciate this story, you need to know that Jack Howell is my father-in-law. But I have never met him. He died as a young father at the age of 30, leaving behind a widow and three children (ages 5, 3, and 10 months). My husband was the three-year-old and has no personal memories of his father. The only information he has comes from pictures or things other family members have told him. As the patron continued to reminisce about his childhood friend, I had the sudden realization that this man could share stories and memories that no one else knows. He could effectively introduce the young Jack Howell to his very own son.
Last week, my husband called the patron and they spoke briefly over the phone. They are now making plans to meet in person and my husband is very much looking forward to learning more about his father. 

Oct 2022 Sister Colleen Barlow

A lady and her sister came into the center. I think they said they lived in Colorado. They told of a large storm they had had with tornado-like winds and rain. They went out into the yard the next day to assess the damage. Most of their trees were okay but there was a large amount of debris cluttering their front yard. As they were gathering the trash into garbage bags, they came across some papers that all seemed to be the same. When they examined the sheets, the sisters found them to be several family-group sheets. They gathered them up and decided they would look at them later. The next day they went out to tackle the backyard. To their surprise, they found more genealogy sheets and the box that they were coming from. With the high winds they had gone through, the women were very amazed the family-group sheets were not destroyed. After being wet and blown, the sheets were still intact, and they began trying to find out to whom they belonged, so they could be returned. More investigation revealed that some of the names on the sheets were their distant cousins. They were able to call some of the people on the sheets and found that they were in the next state over. Somehow the wind had carried the box across the state line to their house. The people they contacted were not at all interested in having the records back. The sisters were elated and felt they had received a miracle. The wind had blown to them the information they needed so they could do the work for their own deceased relatives.
 Sister Visker (

On January 30 I was asked to help a guest who came in with a rather unusual situation.  He had worked for the CIA in Pakistan in the 1980s.  While there he found a cemetery that had hundreds of graves of British people who had lived or worked there, spanning years from 1850 through the 1950s.  He was prompted to record the information on these graves.  So over a period of 2 years, he would often go to the cemetery on his lunch hour with a bucket and rag, brush to clean grave markers, and write down the names and dates that were recorded there.  When he came back from Pakistan he typed up his handwritten lists and gave them to his mother.  Many years later after his mother passed away, he was cleaning out her home and came across the 65 pages of names he had typed.  They represented over a thousand British citizens who had died and been buried in Pakistan.  He came into the Family History Center with these 65 typed pages, wanting to know how he could get this information into the right hands so these people could be entered into the Family Search system.  I recruited a couple of other missionaries to help with his request.  One missionary knew someone who works with finding and digitizing records and arranged for him to contact our guest.  Another missionary helped to preserve these records by digitizing them.  Another missionary located the cemetery on Google maps. We suggested he visit Ancestry to see if they would be interested in adding this information to their Find A Grave website.  As we listened to this man’s incredible story and the emotion he felt in thinking about these records and their potential value to the work of family history, I felt a great sense of gratitude to be a very small part of the chain of people who can bring this information to light.    Miracles great and small happen constantly in the Family Search Center.  What a blessing it is to be serving a mission there!

Elder Jacob Hunsaker