I’ve just spent two days at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival at nearby Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. Thirty years ago this festival started in Karen Ashton’s backyard. She invited me then, and she’s invited me every year since. It was nice to be back in town this year able to attend. I took some stitching and settled in for hour after hour of wonderful storytelling.
Donald Davis is my favorite teller. He always speaks to my heart. He’s like a national treasure and he always reminds us to tell our stories and to keep others alive by telling their stories. He made an interesting comment this time about a tradition in sub-Sahara Africa. He said to these Africans, there are 3 states of being: Alive, Dead and the Living Dead. The Living Dead are those who have passed on but who still have someone on earth who remembers them and talks about them. I like thinking about what I can do to keep my ancestors alive here.Each evening everyone gathered in the amphitheater for a huge storytelling party.It was magical, restful and insightful to have time to sit and listen and learn and feel and to laugh a lot.
I enjoyed these program pages looking back and honoring my dear friend Karen. Karen and I have been in a weekly quilting group for years. Our husbands worked together before that. She is a dear dear friend who is kind and generous. Last week we bumped into each other in Kansas City where we talked about quilts and family. This week we shared this wonderful festival. I’m grateful to have been there with Karen and so many other dear friends.
My daughter, Claire is spending this Labor Day weekend up north at Bear Lake. She snapped this photo this morning at church there. It makes me so happy, to see so many good people on vacation, finding the nearest church so they can worship. The chapel is full, the cultural hall is full and the hallways are full of faithful Saints with heads bowed in prayer. I am grateful to be able to worship as I choose, and to be surrounded by good faithful people who do the same, wherever they might be.
We decided we had time to get the whole family together once more before we leave, so we packed up the Utah gang and flew to Kansas City before our summer vacation time ended. We just needed a little more time with the adorable grandchildren and their parents, Adam and Heidi.
Here is where Adam and Heidi live in Kansas City, Missouri:
Adam and Heidi’s KC apartment (right side)
At the top of our family list was FOOD. Particularly Kansas City BBQ! Joe’s Diner was our first stop on the way home from the airport.
The next day we visited some important Church History sites in Independence, Liberty and Richmond. We learned about some of the hardships of the early Saints.
This is the Community of Christ worship place. They call it a temple. You can go there to pray for world peace.
We are always good for a doughnut stop when we’re on vacation!
David Whitmer’s grave at the Richmond cemetery:
Oliver Cowdery’s grave at the Richmond Old Pioneer Cemetery:
Also in Richmond:
River walk along the Missouri River:
Being Grandparents = the Best Thing Ever.
We are all here except for Josie who was in the stroller:Kansas City Public Library:
Saturday’s Farmer’s Market:
We found an African grocery store!
A perfect little family!More BBQ. Delicious!Sunday at church near the Kansas City Temple:
Visiting Kansas City University where Adam is learning to be a Doctor:Lecture hall:This technology projects from this huge iPad-sort of thing onto the wall–life-sized body parts and things:Adam is a Fellow this year. That means he’s teaching, not being a student. He is teaching the first year students anatomy. He spends his days in the cadaver lab. This is is office:
More family time:We had a week with Adam, Heidi, Clark and Josie. It’s not easy to say goodbye, especially for 2 years. Can I just say these adorable children are perfect? They’ll be all grown up when we see them again. Oh how we love our family!
I led the discussion today in our Relief Society class. The assigned topic was a talk given by President Oaks in last April’s General Conference called “Where Will This Lead?” He began with the premise, “We make better choices and decisions if we look at the alternatives and ponder where they will lead.”
In his comments, President Oaks used a term I’d never heard before. When I mentioned that term to my millennial son Aaron, he knew exactly what I was talking about.
President Oaks said:
“We make many choices between two goods, often involving how we will spend our time. There is nothing bad about playing video games or texting or watching TV or talking on a cell phone. But each of these involves what is called “opportunity cost,” meaning that if we spend time doing one thing, we lose the opportunity to do another. I am sure you can see that we need to measure thoughtfully what we are losing by the time we spend on one activity, even if it is perfectly good in itself.”
What a perfect label for something I think about All The Time. Now I know what to call it. I’ve been thinking about one of the first times I became acutely aware of opportunity cost. I was 23 years old, a student at BYU, living with roommates. I was also preparing to be a missionary. I had friends and roommates who questioned my desire to step away from our social world and dating for 18 months to go wherever I would be sent. Several friends told me, “I’d rather stay home and get married than go on a mission.”
I left those friends and spent 18 months in South Africa. I was 25 years old when I returned. I remember visiting many of my old friends who had stayed at home to get married. Many were still single. I had gone and come back with the world in my heart, and they were much the same. They had missed an incredible opportunity.
Descriptions of Opportunity Cost: a benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is the missed potential gain from the choice that is NOT taken. When economists refer to the “opportunity cost” of a resource, they mean the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of that resource. If, for example, you spend time and money going to a movie, you cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you can’t spend the money on something else. There can never be zero opportunity cost for anything that we human beings do in this life. Every choice has an opportunity cost. There will be times when our opportunity cost cannot really be expressed in terms of money, but the cost is still there.
An unfinished sign sits in my office: a clean house is the sign of a wasted life. Maybe someday I’ll do the stitching to finish it. I showed this sign to the ladies today and we all laughed, but that sign has been something I’ve looked at every day for years. Now I have the vocabulary to explain what it means to me: opportunity cost.
I am asked pretty regularly if I ever sleep. I do. Every single night. But when I’m awake, I try really really hard to use my time doing the most important things I know how to do, or doing things that will outlast me. My dear mentor, Mary Ellen Edmunds taught me long ago the importance of “leaving yourself behind.” I do that with words. I do that with quilts. I do that as I gather family history stories. I’d like to leave something beautiful or meaningful behind when I go. I may not always succeed, but I try hard to.
Today in our Relief Society class, we talked about ways we can improve how we spend our time. We talked about making better choices so we don’t miss out on the important stuff. As we went around the room, each friend and neighbor told one thing they would like to change to live more deliberately. It was enlightening. I love that we are all in this together, cheering each other on.
Here are a few other thoughts and quotes I shared with the women today:
The Prophet Jacob gives this counsel:
“Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted.” (2 Nephi 9:51)
The Savior taught the following to both the Jews and the Nephites:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 and 3 Nephi 13:19-21)
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave the following counsel not too long ago:
“Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence.
“Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient?” (General Conference October 2012, Of Regrets and Resolutions)
I know this isn’t unique to me, but sometimes I’m so pressed with everything I have to do that I often don’t even know what the priority is. I have started asking the Lord every morning, “What is one thing you want me to do today?” I’m a maximizer, and I tend to think if one thing is good then five are better and ten are best. Then I’m overwhelmed. So, I’ve calculated if I do one thing that comes through inspiration, 365 times per year for 50 years, that will be a total of 18,250 things that the Lord wanted done. He has counted on me 18,250 times, and I have tried to respond. That is no small thing!
One of the greatest feelings is to know when you go to bed at night that you did the best you could that day. Offer it to the Lord: “I did my best. Will you please use my offering and augment it with the grace of Jesus Christ?” And then wake up and try again the next day. I have learned so much by doing this. I had no idea how creative the Spirit can be! Some of my “one” things have been making a phone call, teaching kids to play Yahtzee, listening to a forgetful friend tell stories I’ve already heard, and once it was taking a nap.(BYU Women’s Conference, 23 May 2018, “Doing Better Doesn’t Mean Doing More”)
President Russell M. Nelson:
Spend more time on your knees in prayer, more time in the scriptures, more time in family history work, more time in the temple. I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder. (Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • January 10, 2016 • Brigham Young University–Hawaii)
I held in my hands a treasure today. This is the Martin Bushman Family Bible that was published and sold by Kimber and Sharpless at their bookstore in Philadelphia in 1833.
Last week at the Elias Bushman reunion in Lehi, I met Don and Karen Bushman from Herriman, Utah. They told me they had this family Bible in their possession. I was so excited to learn where this Bible has been. I made arrangements for Don and Karen to come to my home today with this beautiful family treasure. Below is a photo of this Bible that has been in our Bushman family records, so I knew it was out there somewhere, I just didn’t know where to find it.
Holding something in your hands that your loved ones held in theirs is a sweet thing.Martin and Elisabeth Bushman were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ from missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This would have been the Bible they studied from.
Martin’s signature dated 1833:
Here is where they read from James 1:5, as Joseph Smith once did, learning that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask of God who gives liberally to us if we ask in faith:
Here are the family records recorded by Martin and Elizabeth. Jacob Bushman (top right), their 3rd child, is my 2nd Great-grandfather.
Inside the back cover:
Don and Karen Bushman, who kindly shared this treasure with me today and allowed me to photograph these sacred pages. Not only did they bring this family Bible, they brought photos and histories and family memorabilia which I also photographed and will be adding to FamilySearch as I have time. Today was a Really Good Day!
Here is our Erudite Book Club Reading List. Each year each member can suggest up to 5 books. They have 1 minute per book to sell the book selection committee on their recommendations. We do this at an evening dinner party. The selection committee is made up of 3 members and it rotates through the club from year to year.
ERUDITUS BOOK LIST
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
Two From Galilee, Marjorie Holmes
The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck M.D.
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
Anne Of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
Miracle At Philadelphia, Catherine Drinker Bowen
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christy
A Stranger for Christmas, Carol Lynn Pearson
Benjamin Franklin Autobiography
City of Joy, Lapierre
Watership Down, Richard Adams
Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
Love Is Eternal, Irving Stone
Exodus, Leon Uris
The Dollmaker, Harriette Arnow
Mig Pilot, John Barron
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
Three Blind Mice, Agatha Christy
The Silver Chalice, Thomas Costain
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Life and Death in Shanghai, Nien Cheng
A Seperate Peace, John Knowles
How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellyn
Lake Wobegone Days, Garrison Keillor
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
The Briography of Hugh B. Brown, Firmage
Turn of the Screw, Henry James
Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
Saints, Orson Scott Card
Everything I Ever Wanted to Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Robert Fulgam
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The Seventh Son, Orson Scott Card
Eleni, Nicholas Gage
Cold Sassy Tree, Olive A. Burns
Follow The River, James Thom
The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene S. Porter
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt
Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane
The Education of Little Tree, Forrest Carter
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler
Only When I Laugh, Eloise Bell
Mila 18, Leon Uris
The Spy Wore Red, Alice, Countess of Romanones
Hawaii, James A. Michener
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg
The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Ladies of Missalonghi, Colleen McCullough
My Name Is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbit
The Unexpected Mrs. Polifax, Dorothy Gilman
Powder Keg, Leo V. Gordon/Richard Vetterli
The Lacemaker, Janine Montupet
The Stolen White Elephant, Mark Twain
A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
Hero and the Crown, R. McKinley
Walking Across Egypt, Clyde Edgerton
The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller
Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver
The Way Things Ought To Be, Rush Limbaugh
Roots, Alex Haley
Midwife’s Tale, Laurel Ulrich
Emma, Jane Austen
Freedom At Midnight, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot
Stones For Ibarra, Harriet Doerr
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
My Antonia, Willa Cather
One Child, Torey L. Hayden
Fatherland, Robert Harris
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
Princess, Jean Sasson
A Woman of Egypt, Jihan Sadat
The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas
The Power of One, Bryce Courtney
Middlemarch, George Eliot
Good Night Mr. Tom, Michelle Magorian
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Michael Dorris
Vienna Prelude, Bodie Thoene
Wild Swans, Jung Chang
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
Mutant Message Down Under, Marlo Morgan
All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, Ulrich/Thatcher
Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
The Giver, Lois Lowrey
Andersonville, Mackinley Kantor
Jamaica Inn, Daphne DuMaurier
Nobody Don’t Love Nobody, Stacey Bess
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austin
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
First Ladies, Margaret Truman
In their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo, Carol Cornwall Madsen
The Gathering of Zion, Wallace Stegner
A Mother’s Ordeal, Steve Mosher
Go Forward With Faith, Sheri L. Dew
Henry the Fifth, William Shakespeare
Murder on the Potomac, Margaret Truman
Stones From the River, Ursula Hegi
The Hundred Secret Senses, Amy Tan
Nicholas and Alexandra, Robert K. Massie
The Eight, Katherine Neville
The Color of Water, James McBride
The Face of a Stranger, Anne Perry
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
A Lantern in Her Hand, Bess Streeter Aldrich
Malkeh and Her Children, Marjorie Edelsen
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
I Am the Clay, Chaim Potok
The Glass Lake, Maeve Binchy
The Man Who Listens to Horses, Monty Roberts
A Civil Action, Jonathan Harr
Father Elijah-An Apocalypse, Michael D. O’Brien
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy
At Home in Mitford, Jan Karon
The Children, David Halberstam
Mourning Dove, Larry Barkdull
Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Standing for Something, Gordon B. Hinckley
Rocket Boys (October Sky), Homer H. Hickman
Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
The Book Club, Mary Alice Monroe
Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
Here Be Dragons, Sharon Kay Penman
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw
Holes, Louis Sachar
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Galileo’s Daughter, Dava Sobel
Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Possession, A. S. Byatt
The Silver Crown, Robert O’Brien
A Mormon Mother, Annie Clark Tanner
Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton
The Real George Washington, Parry
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Other Side of Heaven, John H. Groberg
Bonds That Make Us Free, C. Terry Warner
Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir
The Trumpeter of Krakow, Eric P. Kelly
From Sea to Shining Sea, James Alexander Thom
The Samurai’s Garden, Gail Tsukiyama
Time and Again, Alan Paton
The Nine Brides and Granny Hite, Neill C. Wilson
John Adams, David McCullough
Danny the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl
Hallelujah, J. Scott Featherstone
Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand
Beethoven’s Hair, Russell Martin
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
These Is My Words, Nancy E. Turner
The Persian Pickle Club, Sandra Dallas
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Alfred Lansing
The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
The Far Pavillions, M. M. Kaye
Forever, Erma Erma Bombeck
The President’s Lady, Irving Stone
The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
Joan of Arc, Mark Twain
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader , C. S. Lewis
Don Quixote, Cervantes
Charlotte’s Rose, Elaine Cannon
Flag of Our Fathers, James Bradley
The History of Joseph Smith, Lucy Mack Smith
Wish You Well, David Baldacci
Persuasion, Jane Austin
Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Johnstown Flood, David McCullough
All But My Life, Gerta Weissman Klien
Eat Cake, Jeanne Ray
Good Hope Road, Lisa Wingate
A Train to Potevka, Mike Ramsdell
Goose, Girl/Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
Night, Elie Wiesel
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Fire in the Bones, S. Michael Wilcox
March, Geraldine Brooks
Bound for Canaan, Furgus M. Bordewich
1776, David McCullough
The Emperors of Chocolate, Joel Glenn Brenner
A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel
The Faith Club, Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver/Priscilla Warner
The Ladies Auxiliary, Tova Mirvis
The Mayflower, Nathaniel Philbrick
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
The Warden, Anthony Trollope
Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza
The Peacegiver, James L. Ferrell
The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester
Unlikely Heroes, Ron Carter
Each Little Bird That Sings/
Love, Ruby Lavender, Deborah Wiles
Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Mormon Scientist, Henry J. Eyring
The Citadel, A.J. Cronin
Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, Fannie Flag
Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskill
Moloka’i, Alan Brennert
The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone
To Destroy You is No Loss, Joan Criddle & Teeda Butt Mam
Letters of a Woman Homesteader, Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
The Guernsey Literacy &,Potato Peel Pie Society, Shaffer & Barrows
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
Red Bird Christmas, Fanny Flagg
Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
Dark Tide, Stephen Puleo
The Quilters Legacy, Jennifer Chiaverini
Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Walker, Turley, & Leonard
Your Choice-Books by Richard Peck Richard Peck
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
Miracles on the Water, Tom Nagorski
Yearning for the Living God, F. Enzio Busche
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Uprising, Margaret P. Haddix
The Blue Star, Tony Earley
Lighting Out for the Territory, Roy Morris, Jr.
End of 2011 (Calendar Changed)
Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benson J Lossing
Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson
Maise Dobbs, Jacque Winspear
Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson
The Shape of Mercy, Susan Meissner
Jubilee Trail, Gwen Bristow
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Candle in the Darkness, Lynn Austin
The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
Understood Betsy, Dorothy Canfield
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, Terry Ryan
Eve: Choices Made in Heaven, Beverly Campbell
Women of Character, Susan Black & MJ Woodger
Half the Sky, Nicolas Kristol
2013-14 (Calendar Changed Back)
Destiny of a Republic, Candice Millard
Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown
April 1865, Jay Winik
The Tenant of Wildfell, Hall Ann Bronte
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Major Petigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
Catherine the Great, Robert Massie
Saving CeeCee Honeycut, Beth Hoffman
Mao’s Last Dancer, Cunxin Li
Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys
The Well and the Mine, Gin Phillips
Shiloh Autumn, Brodie & Brock Thoene
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
Candy Bombers, Andrei Cherry
George Washington’s Secret Six, Brian Kilmeade
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fanny Flagg
The Rent Collector, Camron Wright
Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool
The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton
The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh
No Name, Wilkie Collins
One Summer, America, 1927, Bill Bryson
Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan
Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier
The God Who Weeps, Terryl & Fiona Givens
Leave it to Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Some Kind of Different As Me, Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Half-Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls
Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron
The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Edith Beers & Susan Dworkin
River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, Candice Millard
Friendly Persuasion, Jessamyn West
The Residence, Kate Anderson Brower
Quiet, Susan Cain
Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt
Deadwake, Eric Larsen
The Lake House, Kate Morton
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, Alan Bradley
The Hired Girl, Laura Amy Schlitz
Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate
Peace for a Palestinian, Sahar Qumsiyeh
Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in Korea, Barbara Demick
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight
Rocket Men, Robert Kurson
Rora, James Byron Huggins
The Storytellers’ Secret, Sejal Badani
A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline
Gilead, Marilynn Roginson
We Were the Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter
Immortal Irishman, Timothy Egans
My Dear Hamilton, Stephanie Dray
Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
These are some of my dearest friends. We’ve been in a book club together since 1987, the year I returned from living in Nigeria. Every year at the end of summer we have a very fun book club retreat at our Sundance cabin.
Missing here: Nicki Nebekker, Jan Kocherhans and Kitty Bittner
We have a lot of fun at the cabin, mostly visiting. We bring all sorts of projects to work on, including humanitarian projects and quilts. We play lots of games and we watch good movies. Of course food is always a highlight. This is the ultimate mountain get-away and slumber party!
We were one of the first teams to work on Germans Immigrants in American Church Records.
Roger Minert was my German research professor at BYU for many years. Last night we went to his retirement party at the Rotary park near his home in Provo. In 2004 I took my first class from him. Because he changed my life, I’d like to tell the story of how that happened.
This week is the BYU Family History Conference. People come from all over the country to attend this conference. In the summer of 2004 one of John’s old girlfriends came to Provo from out-of-state. I got a phone call from John in the late morning that went something like this, “Ann–can you come to campus right now? Cynthia is here in my office and I’d like to take her to lunch.” Dang, I thought. I have to look presentable and be on campus in 20 minutes! I probably put on some mascara and lipstick and changed into something nicer and drove over to campus, feeling a bit put out that this old girlfriend had intruded in my busy day.
We met and went to lunch. She had a quick break between sessions and was eager to get back to the conference. Trying to be polite, I asked her what her favorite class in the conference had been so far. I’ll never forget what she said. She started to describe the last lecture she had attended before visiting John at his office. She told me about the German researcher named Roger Minert who had just opened her world to German research. Her face was animated. She looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you live Right Here and could just take a class from him! You are so lucky!” I wrote his name on my napkin.
In that moment something in my world shifted. As I think back on it now, I can make sense of what happened, although I didn’t fully understand what Compelled me that day in such a strong and urgent way. I believe generations of my ancestors on the other side of the veil were there pushing me forward down a new path.
As soon as Cynthia walked away, back to the conference, I found Linda, John’s secretary and asked her, “What do I have to do to sign up for a class at BYU?” I knew spouses of faculty had privileges, but I’d never taken advantage of them. In the next hour she helped me with phone calls and registering for a class that would begin in a few weeks. It was a German Paleography class taught by Roger Minert.
On 31 August 2004 I recorded this in my journal: Class is from 9:30 to 10:45. There are 9 of us in the class. Roger Minert is the teacher. I liked him right away and felt that I was being in the right place at the right time. I am learning to know that feeling well. I seem to be led to people I need to learn from and I can tell already that he is one of them.
This was our text book:
Here is a look at the German Schrift handwriting styles we learned to read and write:
As we learned to read this handwriting, we were given an exciting assignment for the semester. We were each to spend 40 hours extracting names out of German church records in Wisconsin. These American church records are often one of the only places where German hometowns are mentioned. Once a family can identify the hometown, they can cross the ocean to the excellent church records kept in Germany. This is the most critical piece of information for a German researcher. With the name of a hometown, you are basically home free!
The records we extracted that semester turned into these volumes!
Our names are on the cover as compilers:
In the years since 2004, when I first began working with Roger, all of these volumes have been published, 28 so far. We are working parish by parish and state by state. Many states have multiple volumes. John and I have happily supported this project and continue to do so. Dozens of BYU students have been involved and employed over the years. Thousands and thousands home names are connected to ancestral hometowns here. These books are available in libraries and Family History Centers across the nation. (They are also in our basement!)
Here are a few photos from Roger’s retirement party last night:It was wonderful to see old classmates again!
Here are some of the volumes published so far:And here’s what the extracted records look like:
Here’s a letter I found in my files, sent to BYU President Samuelson the following semester:
5 January 2005
Dear President Samuelson,
I saw you zipping across campus Tuesday morning as I was on my way to class and I wanted to flag you down and say Hi, but I was too far away, and you were too fast on that little cart.
Then today I received the birthday card you sent and I wanted to thank you for the kind thoughts. I’m sure you get a lot of mail from students, so I hesitate to take your valuable time, but I just wanted to tell you of the wonderful experience I have had.
When I graduated 20 years ago, I had a feeling that someday I’d be back. But then my life went other directions, and once John and I finally met, family life took over and I was content. That changed last August when I was visiting with some friends who were in town attending the BYU Family History Conference. When I asked them which classes had been the most valuable, they immediately told me of a German teacher who alone made the whole trip worthwhile. Their comment was, “I can’t believe you live right here and could just take classes from him.” That’s all it took. I went right to John’s office and found Dr. Roger Minert and enrolled in one of his classes.
The class I took was a German Research class (Hist. 422) where we learned to decipher and read old German and Latin documents. It was hard, but I loved every minute of it. I now have skills that will be invaluable to me in my own family history work.
I want to tell you a bit about Roger Minert. I think he’s pretty new here at BYU. I don’t know how he came to be here, but what a blessing it is to have such an outstanding professor here on campus. I’ve known a lot of professors here, but I have known few who have the vision he has for the work that can be accomplished in his field. He is a man driven to teach and share skills that will prepare us to really make a difference in the world with the things that really matter. As I sat in his classes, I felt the Spirit very strongly that that was exactly where I needed to be, learning from exactly the right person.
Bro. Minert is humble and Good, and is quietly making a very big difference in the world of German Family History Research. It almost scares me to think that I could have missed learning of his classes. I hope you have a chance to meet him if you haven’t yet and hear about some of the many projects he has involved his students in. As part of our 422 class last semester, the students in my class extracted thousands of names from documents that few people are able to read. These records will be published and made available to people desperate to read them or understand them. It was a wonderful experience, and John and I will do all we can to help support his work.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in and let you know I’m a happy student having a great BYU experience. I’m taking two more classes from Bro. Minert this semester, and I’m really looking forward to learning the things he’ll be teaching us.
Thanks again for the birthday greetings and for all you and Sharon do to make us so happy to be involved with the University.
Roger Minert has been one of my dearest mentors and friends for almost 20 years now. Because of what I learned from him, 20,000 of my own German ancestors and family members have been found and are in my data base. I also became a full-time student again at BYU, taking more than 80 classes in the next 10 years.
John and I have traveled with Roger and his wife, Jeanne to my ancestral hometown, and through German and Poland together. We’ve had some wonderful life-changing experiences. What a gift it has been to have this world of German research opened to my mind and heart! “Indeed, ” as Roger would say, it’s been a life-changer!
On Saturday 27 July I celebrated Jacob Bushman’s birthday (my 2nd Great-grandpa) by attending a family reunion of his brother Elias’s descendants in Lehi, Utah. I was thrilled to learn about this gathering and happy to go meet some of my Bushman relations.
We had a great day. Mark Bushman, grandson of Elias and Margaret Bushman, organized this event with help from his family. He and his brother, Don are the oldest surviving descendants of Elias Bushman.We had a fun Bushman Bingo game to get acquainted as family members arrived. Everyone who had a Bingo stood to introduce themselves and share a family memory.
By lunchtime, the cultural hall was full of family! Mark’s sons Jon and Ron prepared a dutch oven Feast! It was incredibly delicious!
After lunch we had a wonderful program with different presenters sharing family memories and information about our ancestors.
We all came away feeling full of family love! It was a wonderful event which gave us a chance to renew friendships and meet new family members. Thanks to Mark and Marilyn and their family for bringing us all together.
After the reunion, Rich Kirkham, Becky Shields and I went to the Lehi Cemetery to visit our Bushman family there.
Here are the graves of Martin and Elizabeth Bushman, our 3rd Great-grandparents.
We also visited the graves of the Elisha Hildebrand Davis family. Elisha was the missionary who taught the Bushman family in Lancaster, PA.
Elisha’s wife Mary Ann Mitchell Davis was Elizabeth Degen Bushman’s dearest friend. She’s the one who interpreted the prayer Elizabeth offered in tongues on her deathbed.Any day with family is a pretty perfect day! This one was exceptional! Thanks to all who brought us together to remember our pioneer heritage.
Here is a talk I gave in our Orem Stonewood 4th Ward on Pioneer Day, 24 July 2011
Pioneer Day–Sacrifice and Service
I was born and raised on a farm in a small town in central California. My family converted to the Church when I was a young girl. My mother died 12 years ago here in this ward. It wasn’t until after her death, when I was back at BYU studying Family History that I was given assignments to uncover the lives of my family members. She was not an active Mormon when my father met her, so she joined his Mennonite Church when they married. For the first time, a few years ago, I discovered I have Pioneer blood flowing through me. In fact, all 8 of my mother’s great grandparents joined the Church and came to Zion. As I began to discover these family members, a whole new world was opened to me.
All week, I’ve been gathering fascinating tidbits from the stories of my ancestors to share with you today, and as the pages of stories multiplied, I realized that there was no place to draw the line–every life I’ve researched has been filled with sacrifice and service and has been particularly interesting and instructive to me. I finally put my stories aside and I have decided to tell you about the process that led me to gather those ancestral stories, in the hopes that you might find the same joy I have found in that journey.
I think many of you are aware that my life is surrounded by my Dead People. I live for them because they lived for me. As I began this quest, one night a few years ago, after I had gone to bed, I had a strong prompting to get out of bed, take my scriptures to the bathroom where I wouldn’t disturb John, and open them to D&C 128. I sat on the edge of the cold tub and began to read. I was curious about what Heavenly Father wanted me to discover there. As I read through the section, the burning began with these familiar words:
In vs. 17 Malachi is quoted, saying: 17 . . . I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
I have long loved this doctrine–that of the Turning. My heart has been turned many times to my ancestors, and to those who will come after me.
I was not prepared for the commentary Joseph Smith adds in vs. 18 (even though I had once carefully underlined it). What jumped off the page and burned into my heart was the part in bold below:
18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. . . .
That was the lesson I needed to learn that night. It became clear to me that I cannot be made perfect without knowing my Dead People. (They don’t really like being called that, but that’s what my kids call them.) These verses explain that it’s not just those who have died without the gospel, (meaning they need ordinances) it’s equally as important for those who have died in the gospel also (meaning those who’s temple work is complete). I’ve wondered long and hard about why this would be. Isn’t the whole purpose of redeeming the dead to provide ordinances? Apparently not. I set out on a quest to discover why.
To learn to understand this amazing doctrine, I began to gather the stories of the lives of my People who died in the gospel. I spent hours and hours in the library at BYU, in Special Collections, studying old digitized newspapers and obituaries, reading local histories and personal histories in the collections in Salt Lake and other libraries, I went to towns where my family members lived, I wandered through cemeteries and museums, I found compiled histories, records and photographs, and I have been on the phone with 100s of newly-found family members. It has changed my life. I am beginning to understand how their lives have the power to save mine and the lives of my children.
Something magical happens when a name has a story added to it. A name becomes a person. That person becomes a friend. We discover things we have in common, or not. We learn how they served and sacrificed. We learn how they did hard things. We have the advantage of seeing their lives from a perspective even they did not have–we can see beginnings to endings and learn how choices determined consequences and outcomes. We can see, from our perspective, how they worked out their salvation.
As we become acquainted with our kindred dead, we find our hearts turn towards them, as Malachi prophesied. I’ve been suffering this month with a lung infection like pneumonia. My mother suffered terribly from asthma. Her grandmother, Grace Honor Bushman Lundquist died at age 38 of respiratory problems like pneumonia, leaving 8 young children. Her mother, Charlotte Turley Bushman (my 2nd Great-grandma) died of pneumonia. Has my heart been turned towards theirs? Yes. Do I understand their suffering a bit more this month? Yes. Do they know who I am? I suspect they are each aware of the many hours I’ve spent researching their lives. Is it odd to think that they are near me in my infirmities? No. I suspect they know me much better than I know them.
Joseph Fielding Smith, as quoted in Life Everlasting, pp. 83-84:
I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. We begin to realize more and more fully, as we become acquainted with the principles of the Gospel, as they have been revealed anew in this dispensation, that we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world . . .
. . . And therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; they can comprehend better than ever before, the weakness that are liable to mislead us into dark and forbidden paths. They see the temptations and the evils that beset us in life and the proneness of mortal beings to yield to temptation and to wrong doing; hence their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.
In other words, their hearts are turned toward ours.
So now, they, from their perspective, can see how we are working out our salvation. I like knowing that they are aware of me and my family. I like feeling surrounded.
In 1910, Joseph F. Smith, Hyrum’s son, addressed the need we each have to become involved in the lives of our kindred dead. He said:
“The temple in Salt Lake City has for many months been so crowded with anxious, earnest workers, that it has been necessary many times to turn large numbers away because there was not sufficient room. This is a good sign, showing the willingness and activity of the Saints. But this condition does not relieve the inactive, dilatory members [those who dilly dally, are slow to act], who are doing nothing for their dead. These persons cannot expect to receive credit for what others may be doing, the responsibility rests with equal force on all according to our individual ability and opportunities. It matters not what else we have been called to do, or what position we may occupy, or how faithfully in other ways we have labored in the Church, none are exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder.
“Place or distinction, or long service in the cause of Zion in the mission field, the stakes of Zion, or where or how else it may have been, will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.
He continues, “Some may feel that if they pay their tithing, attend their regular meetings and other duties, give of their substance to the poor, perchance spend one, two or more years preaching in the world, that they are absolved from further duty. But the greatest and grandest duty of all is to labor for the dead. We may and should do all these other things, for which reward will be given, but if we neglect the weightier privilege and commandment, notwithstanding all other good works, we shall find ourselves under severe condemnation. And why such condemnation? Because [here he quotes Joseph Smith] “the greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us, is to seek after our dead.” Because we cannot be saved without them, “It is necessary that those who have gone before and those who come after us should have salvation in common with us, and thus hath God made it obligatory to man,”
(Salvation Universal. by Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Assistant Church Historian., Improvement Era, 1910, Vol. Xiii. February, 1910. No 4.)
Interestingly, Joseph does not differentiate between the dead needing ordinances, or the dead who died in the gospel.
There is one more thing that has been made very clear to me as I have taken this journey with my ancestors. I cannot expect to find fabulous journals or histories or records of my People, if I am not sacrificing a bit of time here and now to leave the kinds of records I wish they had left for me to find.
It has been said, “No life is ever truly lost, but we are the poorer who have no record of it.”
100 or 200 years from now, when I am in another place, my children’s children will wonder about an old grandma named Ann who lived in the days before Christ came again, before Satan was bound. They will wonder what it was like to live in a world with opposition and sickness and natural disasters. They will wonder how I felt in 2011 about earthquakes and giant Tsunamis and floods that destroyed crops. They will probably find it curious to read first hand accounts of moral dilemmas in my world. It will interest them how I prayed that my children would be protected from evil influences. They will wonder how I knew that Jesus was the Christ without having seen him. I want my descendants to know those things. I want them to know without question that my life was centered in Jesus Christ, that any service or sacrifice I made was because I loved Him.
In that day, when they read these things in my journals, I can imagine that I will be watching them, perhaps arm-in-arm with one of my great great great grandmothers from Switzerland named Elizabeth Degen Bushman, who was one of my first life-changing discoveries. [I’d like to say that our daughter, Claire Elizabeth, was named after her, but unfortunately, I didn’t even know she existed when Claire was born.] Elizabeth and her family were taught the gospel by Mormon Missionaries in Lancaster County in the spring of 1840. They joined with the Saints in Nauvoo, and were driven from their home in the cold and tragic winter of 1846 with six sick children in one wagon. Two of her little girls died and were buried in shallow graves along the roadside, unprotected from the wolves who came as soon as they moved on. Her son Jacob, who became my great great grandpa later wrote, “we done the best we could” as he describes burying his little sisters and nearly freezing to death on that grueling exodus trip.
In her later life Elizabeth Degen Bushman became the good Samaritan of every village they lived in. She was an exceptionally gifted nurse and was renowned as the loving, successful midwife of the town of Lehi. Because of her reputation and kindness, it was said she served as midwife at the birth of almost every baby born in Lehi during her life there. Nearly every family in Lehi had an Elizabeth named in memory of her.
Elizabeth had the gift of tongues. Her dear friend, Mary Ann Davis had the gift to interpret. In 1878, on her death bed, Elizabeth offered a prayer in tongues that ended with these words to her family and to me:
“Oh my children and friends, be true to God and His work and He will take you through the gates of death and there will be a light in the valley for you. . . . Be faithful to the truth and all shall be well with you. We shall only be separated for a little season. God bless you all. Oh Lord, grant that my name may not pass into oblivion, but that it may be from generation to generation, because I have tried to keep Thy commandments. Amen.”
It is my prayer that I will be true to God and His work and that my name and the names of those I love (both living and Dead) will not pass into oblivion, but that our testimonies will live on from generation to generation because we have tried to keep the commandments, as Elizabeth and so many others before us did.
I know that my ancestors served and sacrificed things beyond my comprehension. I know now, the importance of finding their stories. I know that understanding their service and sacrifices will strengthen my testimony, perhaps even save me in times when I may falter on my own. I know that I want to be worthy to stand arm in arm with them and some day be in a position to look down on my posterity with love.