On Tuesday morning I was at BYU, at work scanning and preserving family treasures when I received a text from a friend with the news of the fire at Notre Dame. I was stunned at the thought of the loss of this great cathedral and all it represents to the Christian world.
Throughout the day, I checked the news on my phone, sick at the thought of it. Images flooded in, and people all over the world responded. They say the fire alarm was first triggered Monday evening at 6:20 p.m. Twenty-three minutes later, flames were visible high in the building’s ancient wooden frame.
Construction of Notre Dame, which was built on the ruins of earlier churches, began in 1163 and was completed in 1345. That’s about 800 years of a presence that’s inspired believers and heathens alike. Each year about 12 million tourists pass through Notre Dame, seeking peace and inspiration. I have been there several times, for the same reasons and have felt the sacred majesty of the place.
In this image made available on Tuesday April 16, 2019 flames and smoke rise from the blaze at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. An inferno that raged through Notre Dame Cathedral for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers, and a frantic rescue effort saved the monument’s “most precious treasures,” including the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus, officials said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thierry Mallet)
As I looked at photos of people mourning this loss at the start of this Easter Holy Week, my thoughts have turned to our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose mortal body was offered as a sacrifice on a lone hill outside a city wall, not just a symbol or structure of Christianity, but the Essence of Christianity. Oh, the loss! Did the world stop to notice and mourn as we have stopped to mourn this week? Do we hold Him as dear to us as we hold this holy edifice that represents Him?
Something about this horrible fire has changed my Easter worship this week and reminded me what I hold dear. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ with all my heart. I love Him for giving His life for me, a sacrifice for my sins.
He is more than a cathedral to me. He is Everything to me. Oh, how I love Him!
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor 15:55).
Because of Him, we will live again. Because of Him, we will each rise from the dust when we are finished here. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Every spring and fall, leaders of our Theodore Turley Family Organization meet in Salt Lake to plan and discuss family matters. I’ve been meeting with this great group of relatives for many years now, as the representative of the Charlotte Turley branch of the family.
This year we are planning a virtual reunion on May 15, which is World Family Day. Descendants of Theodore Turley (there are about 20,000 of us!) will be encouraged to share a memory of a family member or ancestor on FamilySearch. This might be a story, a document, or a photo. Imagine the history we can share and preserve if we all did this!
These are our family organization leaders:
Top photograph: Back row (L to R): Ted Roy, Monita Robison, Natalie Tanner, Ann Lewis, Steve Turley, Jane Turley, Mary Ann Clements. Front row: Kay Lovell, Richard E. Turley, Sr., Janet Packham, Luana Rogers. Not pictured: Dan Rogers, Adrienne Williams, Diana Glissmeyer, Ted Pyper (Skype), Tony Turley (Skype).
A week later, on Saturday 13 April, we had another family meeting in Salt Lake at the Family History Library. David Turley gave an excellent overview of the last family field trip taken to San Bernardino last October. Theodore Turley and his family helped to settle that area in the 1850s. Then Rick Turley spoke to the group. He and David and I are working on 3 volumes about Theodore Turley’s life and papers. Rick calls us “the Three Musketeers.” It’s been a great opportunity to work with him. He’s one of the finest historians I know.
Ann Lewis, Rick Turley, David Turley
Rick told us a bit about his assignments and projects and the work he’s done on the series of books called SAINTS. It is the single most-read history of the Church ever printed, an open and honest narrative of our church history.
We also talked about our Theodore Turley books project and answered questions about how it’s coming together. We hope the first volume will be published this year.Rick said that about 2.5% of church members are involved in family history work. He encouraged us to do the 3 things the church historians do, but on an individual level: Collect, Preserve, and Share.
Collect: Do I have any records related to my family? We all have family history records like certificates, letters, journals, photos, or documents. Gather them. Put them in a shoe box or a safe place.
Preserve: Take your shoebox to a scanning machine and digitize the things you have. Save the digitized images in more than one place. Label photos with names, dates and places.
Share: Upload your digitized records to safe repositories online like FamilySearch. Put them into the public domain so others who are searching can find them. Donate and share your treasures with libraries who can keep them safe and make them accessible to others. Get children to help you transcribe records so they can be shared.
After the program, we had some good visiting time. It was a really fun morning.
I grew up not knowing a thing about the Theodore Turley family. When I started searching for my ancestors, I found them. Oh happy day! It’s a great blessing to belong to such a great family!
Every now and again you meet someone who absolutely changes your life. Roger Minert is one of those people to me. This week I attended his Last Lecture at BYU as he prepares for retirement. This is the man who taught me to read the old German records and do German family history research. He is one of my dearest friends and mentors.
Roger spoke to his fellow professors and friends, reviewing the interesting path his life has taken, which led him to BYU (and to me). I honestly can’t imagine my family history life now without knowing all the things he taught me. He opened a huge world to me, a world that includes my German ancestors, and the records of their lives. Because of Roger, I can read records like these:
He talked about his German Immigrants in American Church Records books. I got to help do the research for the early volumes and John & I continue to support this project.Knowing Roger Minert has been a life-changer for me. I’ve taken every class he teaches, and then did some independent study with him. He taught me how to find the histories and stories of people. One class project was an immigrant case study. We were given the name of a person, their birth date and place in Germany, and their death date and place in America. We had one semester to find and write their life story.
You can read my research here: http://pikecoilgenweb.org/image/adams_county/pdf/bastertfamily.pdf
The other day I was looking for something in my file of letters, and I found this letter about Roger, written to BYU President, Cecil Samuelson in 2005, shortly after I first met Roger.
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.
In 2009 John and I traveled with Roger and his wife, Jeanne to Germany and Poland to do some research there. It was a fabulous trip. We started in Berlin, then made our way through Germany, to Poland, and then to my ancestral hometown, Leingarten in southern Germany. I’ll write more about that trip on another day. Here are just a few pictures of what we did:
Visiting a Latter-day Saint church building built in Poland in 1922, and a cemetery where members of the church were buried:
Auschwitz Concentration Camp:
Visiting churches in Cainsdorf and Zwickau where John’s ancestors are from:
Visiting Leingarten and the farms of my ancestors and relatives:
Meeting with the Burgermeister and Pfarrer of Leingarten to present my research:Roger and Jeanne:
I have often thought that my ancestors had something to do with aligning my life with Roger’s. They knew that in order for me to have access to them, I would need to study with one of the few individuals in this entire country who could teach me to find and read their documents. Knowing and learning from Roger has been a remarkable gift!
I had a full week of quilting bliss with my good friends at Sundance. We started on Tuesday and didn’t stop until the cows came home on Friday! It was such a delight. I’ve been stitching with this quilt group for years. We’ve seen each other through thick and thin. We love our retreats and time to sew from sun up to sun down.
I decided to work on some projects that were in various stages of not being finished. I love to purchase and cut fabric for projects. I like to start things. I’m not so good at finishing because the next project is always calling my name.
Since our return from Washington, I’ve been trying to work on unfinished quilts that have been piling up. Some just need a border or a back. Some are cut but not sewn. Many are assembled blocks that stopped there. I have dozens of quilts in every phase. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished 14 quilts since we returned–I’m chipping away at my piles!
I believe Heavenly Father created us to be creators. We talked a lot about this process this week as we worked. Our friends ask why we make so many quilts when they see them on every bed or draped over every chair. “Don’t you have enough of those blankets?” (When they call them “blankets” you know they don’t get it.)
People who don’t understand look at quilting like we are making a thing that needs to be used now. We look at it like a form of art or creativity. We also look to the future and imagine who will enjoy wrapping up in our work. No one asks a poet if she’s written enough poems, or a composer if she’s written enough songs. Why do people ask if we’ve made enough quilts?
This is something you get, or you don’t. I feel compelled to make more quilts. I can’t explain why. I don’t need them. I won’t use them all. I don’t know if the kids will even want them, but I Must make them. It’s my creative outlet. They are each unique to me. They are my fabrics. I love each piece. I love putting them together. For some reason it’s important to me. My soul is fed by needle and thread. This is one of the things I’ll leave behind when I go. I have romantic idealist dreams of my grandkids fighting over the quilts and each wanting one for each of their children years from now. I want them to FEEL me and know me through the warmth and embrace of a quilt I’ve made. That’s important to me. Hours of my life have gone into these quilts. I hope they are loved someday.
Tuesday I made these 9-patches. I cut out the strip sets about 10 years ago, so I just needed to assemble the blocks. I found the pattern I planed to use. It called for 64 9-patches. I cut and sewed 240. (It’s my FTC problem. Failure To Count.) It’s just as fast to cut for 3 blocks as it is to cut for one, then I have extra for something else. I do that a lot– it’s part of the reason I never catch up with myself.
I also worked on this little project that is many years old. I made enough 4-patches to finish the project, and stopped there for now.
Next I worked on a Grandma Gracie feedsack quilt made of large triangles. Again, it was cut out years ago and started, but never finished. I had enough blocks to make a large quilt and a small baby quilt.
Here is my next project. I found 2 large bags of these 9-patch variation blocks made in the 1990s when I was the past president of the Utah Valley Quilt guild and we did a block of the month. I made 100s and 100s of them then. This week I divided them in to stacks of unique blocks and discovered I have about 800 blocks, or enough to make about 8 baby quilts. Or maybe 3 baby quilts and a large one for a bed. They make me happy. I assembled 2 baby quilts this week. I’ll add borders later.
Next I worked on my log cabin quilts. I went on a log-cutting jag a few years ago and cut enough pieces to make several quilts. I finished one a few months ago, but wanted to experiment with the block settings. I just sewed about 50 more blocks, then came up with these block arrangements for 2 more quilts.
I finished this one last October.
My finished tops:
Sometimes my life feels like these pieces, just needing some time to put them into order. Coupled with friend pieces that compliment and add contrast, we make a beautiful whole that will add something lasting to this world. Something lovely, warm, comforting and filled with love.
My favorite two weekends of the year revolve around General Conference, a time when Prophets and Apostles of Jesus Christ speak to us and instruct us for the times we are living in. Our family tradition is to spend these conference weekends at our Sundance cabin with family.
This year I worked on binding 5 of my recently completed quilts while I listened. When my hands are busy, I can stay alert and pay closer attention to what’s being said. After two days of binding, my fingers were calloused, sore and tired, but oh, my heart was full!
Claire also took a small quilt to bind. Like mother, like daughter!
Aaron keeping warm under a Dresden quilt:
A finished Cottage Sampler:
This one is called Button Box:
Here’s a picture of one of the quilts on the beds at the cabin. It’s one of the first quilts I ever finished.
There are many things that bring me peace. A wise woman once said, “My soul is fed by needle and thread.” There is something magical that happens when you work a needle and thread through beautifully created quilts. It fills something deep down inside me.
My soul is also fed by the words and music of General Conference. Jesus Christ Himself said, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
This weekend my heart and soul were filled to the brim.
We had such a Glorious evening last night with our missionaries! It was like a glimpse of heaven to be in one room with so many we love so dearly. Our mission family is expanding–more and more are returning home after their 2 years or 18 months of service in the Washington Yakima Mission. Of the 455 missionaries who were there with us from 2015-2018, only about 60 or so are still serving in Washington. Of those who are home, 104 are married and 28 others are engaged. So far, we’ve had 8 intra-WYM marriages! About a dozen of our missionaries have had their first child, and many more are expecting. We are growing in more ways than one!
Here’s a photo overview of our evening and this wonderful WYM family:
Our reunion was held at the Chatbooks Corporate Offices in Provo, where our daughter works. It was the perfect fun venue for such a large crowd. We served a spread of Cafe Rio-type food–sweet pork, beans and rice, tortillas, and lots of toppings–lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, peppers, guacamole and had chips & salsa. The food was delicious and for dessert we served hot churros and John’s famous chocolate chip cookies. Our friends in WA send us a case of crisp Washington apples for everyone to enjoy.
Our office couples, the Calls and the Thompsons traveled all the way from Selah and Yakima to be here with our friends.
What an amazing feeling it is to be in a room with so many people who love each other. There’s really nothing like it. These photos just give a glimpse. All the photos I took last night are posted in an album on Facebook.
It was pretty much a Perfect Gathering on the eve of General Conference. My heart is already full!
A new thing has happened to me this year–my name has been added to the list of the Editorial Board of BYU Studies! Not just my name, but something that sounds very nice follows it: “Independent scholar.” I can’t think of many things I’d rather be.
You can learn more about this wonderful publication at byustudies.byu.edu.
One of the things that keeps me awake at night is the fear that I won’t have time to empty everything that needs to passed on out of my mind and my computer and into someone else’s before I die. It’s one of my greatest legitimate fears. Sometimes I imagine how the the prophets in the scriptures felt as they kept the records and preserved them for future generations. They were serious about their work, and I am too.
They say that when a person dies, it’s like a library burns down. The older I get, the greater the burden I feel to empty my library into the public domain. These last few weeks, I’ve spent many long days at the BYU Family History Library using their wonderful scanners to capture images and documents and histories I’ve been gathering.
This week I worked on scrapbooks from my grandparents and my parents. Every page, every image is like stepping back into time. My children will remember my Dad as a stooped old man who has trouble walking. He wasn’t always that way. This week I watched him grow up. I watched Grandma and Grandpa welcome him into the world, their first son, born in America! I watched Grandpa pulling a plow behind a horse in our family vineyards, as they tried to make a better life than they left in Germany. I watched their little family grow, Arthur, then Henry, then the twins–Wilfred and Ruth. I watched as they put flowers on little Ruth’s grave. Then Franklin came to complete the family. These four strapping boys grew to hard working good men.
Rudolf and Elsa’s first car and home in America, California 1929.
This week I picked my Dad and his brothers out of each of their class photos at Windsor School, then Reedley High, the same schools I attended. I watched Dad jumping for rebounds on the basketball court. I scanned his varsity letters and his watched his departure for college. I saw the napkin from his first date with Mom, and watched their courtship unfold at UC Davis. His entire life, start to present, passed before me–the good, the bad, the hard–captured in photos, newspaper clippings, memorabilia and documents.
There are stories to be told here. There are lessons to learn. There are things to remember–to keep and to preserve.
I also have some history of our family members in Germany. They sent photos and postcards and letters to their American cousins, capturing their lives not just for my grandparents, but for me. My grandparents received photos because they were gone from the family there–what a gift, that we have them!As I worked on these treasures, I wondered how they came to be so nicely organized into albums. Many of the photos were even labeled. Scrapbooking seems like a think of my generation, not theirs. I wonder if my grandma had any idea how precious these photos would be to our family after she was gone from here. She did a wonderful job keeping and preserving family memories.
I wish I knew all the people in the photos. I wish I knew all the stories behind the photos. I wish I could sit with grandma, just for a day, and ask her about each one. Knowing I can’t is part of my problem–the one that keeps me awake at night. My children won’t sit with me now to learn what I know. So, I will do all I can to keep and preserve what I know for them someday, when they’ll wonder about who we are.
These are the scanners at BYU where I’ve scanned thousands of photos and documents.My next job will be to caption all of these family photos and organize them so I can share them with others in the family. It’s fun work, but time consuming. Here is just a glimpse:I am slowly adding photos and stories and documents (called “Memories”) like these to FamilySearch online where anyone can view them. This week I added my 4000th “Memory.” More than 800 of these Memories are stories about people I’m related to. Each story, photo or document is tagged to the individuals associated with it. My work right now is transferring my “library” to a safe place where it will live on after I go.
I hope when I’m an old lady, stooped and slow, my work here will be finished, and I hope that someday, my posterity will know how hard we tried to get it right and leave a good name for them. And then I hope I can get some sleep!
It occurred to me this week that I’m so busy looking for stories and histories and documents and photos of people in my family’s past, that sometimes I neglect the present, and those in our family now. We had a Lewis Family gathering this week to celebrate a few birthdays and to see some visiting out-of-town cousins. We are family and we love each other. Here’s a look at our today: