Let me tell you Saturday was the best day yet of RootsTech. I learned so much, the things I heard were all personal messages for me. I think this conference is magical and inspired. Those that attend are simply in a place where their minds will be quickened so they can in turn do marvelous things. I know if I asked other RootsTech attendees they would ALL them me they heard something, remembered something, or had an idea pop into their heads that now makes them excited to get to work!
I took pictures some came out some didn't, but I couldn't decide which to add to this post. So I made a slide show to share instead. So things will be a little out of order in the post.
After Friday's events I knew I wanted to start interviewing all the vendors, but I had some concerns. I arrived early to get a good seat for the key note addresses. This was also very advantageous for me. Randy Seaver and Russ Worthington soon joined me. When I told Randy what I was thinking, he told me I wanted to be a vlogger. I hadn't thought of that, but it did describe where I could see myself headed. Russ helps DearMyrtle with her Google Hangouts so I got excellent advise. The one nagging problem I saw was this wasn't a niche. There are other bloggers that do the video and podcasts extremely well. I spent all the previous day having niches formed into my brain I knew my idea wasn't fully formed yet. So, I just prayed to be inspired and open to know what to do.
Saturday's first Keynote was given by Todd Hansen of the StoryTrek. I love his television show where he picks random people and tells their story. Each person has a unique story that are not only interesting but often very moving. I knew then what I needed to do. I need to go find random youth involved in doing their family history and interview them for my blog. Prior to the conference my whole heart was turned to these Youth coming on Saturday. I was purely excited to go observe them and report on this incredible period in the history of this work of redeeming our dead.
My life experiences, in how I became involved in doing genealogy and what it has done for my life, helps me completely understand why getting the youth involved in family history is so vitally important at this period in time. I also know how import it is to have like minded peers.
The second Keynote was given by Stephanie Nielsen a women I deeply admire. She is the author of the NieNie Dialogues blog and author of the book "Heaven is Here". She related to us her experience of surviving an horrific plane crash and recovery. I just sat there and wept, not only because of what she went through but because, it made me relieve my own near-death experience. I had a women before me that was burned over 80% of her body, it made me realize my perceived fatness, unappealing looks and tired clothes mean absolutely nothing. Yup, you just have to get over yourself and work with what you've got.
One thing I know in life is that my trials are my greatest blessings. I'm sure my poor ward members get tired of hearing me say that. I was in heaven hearing Stephanie relate this same understanding. Yes, she spoke to my soul. She is an amazing women.
I wanted nothing more than meet her in the media hub afterwards but time did not permit. I rushed to the LDS Devotional to get a good seat. Let me speak for a moment on my rushing. You are already familiar with my miracle of my being able to walk and attend RootsTech. Needing to be in the hotel pool and hot tub to recover enough to move again the next day. At the previous RootsTech conferences by the time Saturday would roll around I would be walking very slowly and would be totally exhausted. They were my worse days. This year my body was not mine own.
I found I was walking quickly, moving freely with only a hint of pain. My mind told me how to get around the crowds so I could get to the spots I needed to be. On one of my short-cuts I was thinking about having just walk from here to there so fast, I didn't even walk that fast normally. Then I knew someone was beside me helping me. I was living on miracles.
When I arrived at the Family Discovery Day - LDS Member Devotional I once again felt the atmosphere change. You just step into heaven. Most that are attending RootsTech don't realize this is the hidden hub that drives, motivates and inspires the whole event. I was sadden to see that the room was not entirely filled.
Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy addressed us. What I really enjoyed about his talk was how interactive it was. There were actors that portrayed different leaders and family members in history. He also demonstrated Puzzilla and how it works in finding missing holes in our family trees. I will write an another article later on details of his talk and why he said "Heaven is the cloud". For now I want to share with you a new song that was written for us, sung at the event. I believe it goes to the tune of "Jesus, loved the little children".
Hark, hark, hark your family's calling
Calling out to you today
Hoping you will seek them out,
Learn of them, what they're about
Share the blessing of the temple every day.
Saints we're gathered here today,
Let us share a better way
As we learn about out ancestors in love
Don't forget you must submit
Then your fire will be lit
Feel the blessings from your Father up above.
Tell a story that you know
'Bout Grandpa Tom or Uncle Joe
While alive they may not want the story spread.
They are in a better place
We will learn from their mistakes
But right now they need your help
because they're dead.
You may think the work's all done
You've missed out on all the fun
But you've got to take your grandma's
You've got cousin that abound
In the records they are found
And to find them, link them,
seal them - that's for you!
Hark, hark, hark your family's calling
Calling out to you today
Hoping you will seek them out,
Learn of them, what they're about
Share the blessing of the temple every day.
There was a break after his talk and before Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy addressed us. As the crowds were moving I sat in my chair relaxing for a moment. I happened to look up and standing next to me in the crowd was a radiant, joyful youth. I asked her how old she was and I believe she said she was 15. She told me she had been attending classes during RootsTech all week and wasn't just there for Saturday's events. She moved to a row in front of me and was chatting with several adults. I walked over and found out her name was Allene Huffaker and her sister Kristy was with her. They told me they were so excited about RootsTech that they didn't sign up for the Youth Activities and didn't know if they would be able to attend them because it was "sold out". I wanted to help figure out a way to get them tickets, they so deserved to be in there, but we were cut short and told to get back to our seats. The young women were not actually seating up front so they had to leave. What a chance meeting. They were my first youth that I gave my business card to, asking them to contact me so I could interview them after RootsTech. I can't wait to learn more about their story, they just glow.
Elder Packer spoke on "Igniting Family History in Your Ward, Quorums, and Groups". He told us the temple is evidence of life after death. Since RootsTech there has been a 17% increase in temple work. That might sound good but it's sad when you realize we started at 2.7% of members actually submitting names for temple work. So that's not 17% of members now submitting names, it's 17% increase based on the 2.7% already doing it. The one thing I did miss was receiving a Spiritual Passport in my registration materials. Elder Packer said we all had one, so I'm not sure how to get one. I really thought they looked cool. Elder Packer also called Family Tree the Facebook for the Dead. As I get time I will also write up another article on what Elder Packer spoke on.
After Elder Packer's talk I "ran" to the Youth Activity Event. I had been promised a media seat. I was tickled to find one, but curiously there were no other bloggers, LDS or otherwise there with me. As I sat "alone" I realized this was indeed my story to tell. After claiming my seat and before the event began I walked through the sea of youth and handed out my business card to random groups. I was looking for youth that are Family History Consultants. I want to interview them and tell their story. I meet some really great ward and youth leaders too. I hope they will contact me. To liven up the event there was a boom camera that would scan over the crowd of 4,000 youth and they would yell and excitedly wave. We were told they were making a YouTube video of the events.
The thing that really impressed me about the Family Discover Day for Youth was it was lead by the youth. Mckayla Faddis from the Lehi Utah South Stake did and excellent job as MC for all the events. There were youth playing the piano, directing the music, saying the prayers, and other youth like Jacob Mattson and Kylee Haunga, taking turns sharing their stories with us. I was really impressed with all of them.
You couldn't ask for a better start of the youth track then by having John Bytheway, a popular LDS Youth speaker as a keynote. He spoke on "The Power of Youth: Making a Difference". If a youth didn't feel they were capable of doing great things when he was done then they were simply not listening.
The next presentation was given by a Youth Panel titled "Youth Leading Youth: How to Get Involved with Family History". They told their experience and stories about the blessing received from turning their hearts to their ancestors. I wish I had all their names they deserve to be recognized.
The youth were then broken down by two tracks for the day. During registration the youth were assigned a orange or green lite-weight nylon drawstring backpack. This designated which track they were on. One track would go to the Expo Hall while the other track attended classes. I didn't have a backpack so I just headed to the Expo Hall because it was time for lunch and my tablet needed some juice. I walked to the Expo Hall surrounded by a sea of excited youth wearing bright orange backpacks.
The Media Hub was close to the Studio C booth. It was mobbed by youth that wanted to sit in a studio chair to have their picture taken. I think they were then superimposed into a skit being shown on screens for the other youths to watch. I just couldn't get a good look at it. There were too many youth there. That booth was mobbed the whole time. They seemed very excited about whatever they were doing.
I know there was a Discovery Center with activities for the youth. I just didn't attempt to go over there because of the crowds. Wherever you looked you saw youth and they looked excited and ready for action. It was a beautiful sight. I was tickled that some of the youth in my ward (American Fork 17th Ward) spotted me so we had to take pictures.
Karol & Farrell Dean, Renee Zamora
Robert, Libby, Emma Roudabush & Renee Zamora
While I was in the Expo Hall I quickly handout out my business cards to all the vendor booths I missed the previous day. Then I spotted one section I missed in a little area. It was called Spirit Corp and they had all these lovely signs and key chains. I went crazy in their booth. They have the haunting old images of people with sayings like "We'er Waiting... for out work to be done!" or "Wanted - My Family Forever" I was hoping their website would have copies so I could show you but the links appear to be broken. The only other place I have seen an picture was in the Church History Museum Store.
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Hall E for the Youth Day events. BYUtv's Studio C was in the house. Everyone wanted to be there. I was so tickled to find the two young women, Allene & Kristy Huffaker, that I met earlier had obtained tickets and were already seated. This time the media seats kept getting moved around. The 3rd move was the charm and I finally had a seat. I was joined this time by blogger, Lynn Broderick of The Single Leaf, and Paul Nauta, FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager. We were sitting in the front row on the far right side of the hall.
To say the kids went crazy was an understatement. The hall was just electric with their energy. They were having a great time and they were all gathered here because of an old people's activity - genealogy. Can we say we have changed the mind set. Now Studio C isn't exactly something I would connect to doing family history work. It's a very funny television show with highly gifted comedians playing skits. It was part of BYU's Divine Comedy so it has retained it's family values and LDS humor. About the closest I would say Studio C is to family history is a family can feel comfortable watching it together. Since anything a family can do together will build family memories, I guess in a round about way you can make it a family history. Either way it was just pure fun watching the cast of Studio C respond to questions texted from the youth in attendance.
I tried to capture pictures of the craziness that would happen when the Studio C cast would call out it's "t-shirt time". They would run out into the audience of screaming teenagers and throw out t-shirts. Yup, everyone was having a blast. I knew after Studio C would come the General Authority Devotional for Youth with Elder Neil L. Andersen, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I really wondered how they would get these screaming youth into a reverent mood for that.
As soon as the Studio C Cast left the stage the youth were asked to quiet down and become reverent. Quiet music and touching videos were played and a wonderful peaceful spirit came over us. I was really, really impressed with how quickly the youth followed the directions given them. When Elder Neil L. Andersen came onto the stage the youth all stood in respect for being in the presence of an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. It really touched my heart. Elder Andersen gave a wonderful interact talk. He had his grandson, Clayton Hadlock demonstrate how they could find more family members using Puzzilla, a FamilySearch Certified website that interacts with the Family Tree. They selected one of Elder Andersen's ancestors to start looking at their descendants. Puzzilla would show them where the descendant line would stop, indicating where more research could be done to find lost cousins.
Elder Andersen said that now was the right time for the youth to become involved with family history. He explained that in the past it was usually older members with the time, money and ability to travel that were able to work on their family history. With technology and the increase in temples around the world, it is possible to get past those barriers, enabling the youth to become involved. They have the skills and ability to do this, they came wired that way.
He gave them three challenges:
- "Prepare as many names for the temple as you perform in the temple."
- "Be the Key in Connecting Your Family"
- "Find Your Cousins"
This new song, "Find Our Cousins", was introduced to the youth during Elder Andersen's address. A very talented young woman and young man came on stage to sing it. It sure beat singing "Genealogy I am doing it" which was the catchiest genealogy tune in my day. So there are two new genealogy / family history related songs debuted on Saturday. One with Elder Packer to the adults and another to the youth with Elder Andersen.
Before Elder Neil L. Andersen left he did pronounce an apostolic blessing on the youth.
“As you seek to contribute to this sacred work, both by finding those needing ordinances and then beginning their work in the temple, your own knowledge and faith in the Savior will increase, and you will receive a more certain witness that life continues beyond the veil. I know that life continues beyond the veil. I know it.”The Youth Activities were inspiring, exciting and uplifting. I know hearts have been turned and we can expect marvelous, wondrous things coming from the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints. They are the future of genealogy and family history and it is forever changed.
This was not the end of my RootsTech day on Saturday. Afterwards I attended a lovely "After RootsTech Blogger Party" hosted by Pat Richley-Erickson (DearMyrtle). At the end of Elder Andersen's talk my feet began to swell and my hip began to ache. I could barely walk. My miracle for attending RootsTech was no longer needed. At Pat's home I sat in a chair and hardly left it. I so appreciated those that mingled and came and sat next to me so we could talk.
A tender mercies was given me also while I was at Pat's. As I had looked over the RootsTech classes before going there was one new presenter, Jennifer Dondero, that offered classes on all my favorite subjects. I was only able to attend one of her classes and it was amazing. I was really sad to have missed the other classes. Well, at Pat's home Jennifer sat next to me and we talked. We are kindred spirits who's brains think a like. It was wonderful to bounce ideas off of her and get my own little mini class. Now I can say I missed nothing at RootsTech and my cup was full.
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!