My Sunday School class began with the “Allegory of the Last Raspberry” as class members munched on the fruits of the moral of the story baked into morning muffins.
The day before, we were waiting to herd cow/calf pairs to a new pasture (another allegory for another column) at Grandma’s house when my daughter said, “Let’s go see if there are any raspberries left in the garden.”
Grandma had long since abandoned the raspberry patch in late July after filling her freezer and cupboard shelf with jars of jam. Our family took over the picking operations for the next two weeks, trying to gather every other day until the last berry was saved from grasshopper infestation and birds’ snacktime.
In the meantime, Grandpa kept watering. Of course, his priority was the neighboring rows of corn, but the berry rows were drenched as well. The results: A few remaining raspberries emerged, hidden deep within the greener stalks or under large leafs closer to the ground.
Most helpers ate what they could find as we waited for the cows to come, but I gathered enough to make one last batch of muffins.
So on Sunday, we compared those almost-forgotten raspberries to names on our family tree that might be hiding behind big leaves or a larger limb. Since most of my Sunday School students present that day came from a long lineage of devout Mormons, I said their personal contribution to family history would most likely be by finding names of people who may have been overlooked by generations of genealogists working without technology.
My first visit to the FamilySearch Web site showed the impressive work of many relatives who have dedicated themselves to the cause, but it only took a few minutes to find a glaring error: one family in which younger children were born after their mother passed away. They obviously need to be connected to a different mother who married the widower that fathered more children. That woman, who has yet to be identified, is like a forgotten raspberry.
Our lesson started with one student reading Malachi 4:5-6. After he finished, I interjected, “And that my friends, was the extent of my lessons on family history when I was your age. Fortunately for you, we have a lot more to talk about.”
As a class we challenged each other to act on what we were learning and do one of the following this week:
Help a grandparent or ward member who may need assistance with the computer. Teach them how to scan photos or documents and attach the files to the names on their family tree.
Index names gathered from the LDS Church’s document collection.
In your home, find a shelf or drawer where you can gather all your family history documents together — like photos, printed stories shared at family reunions, family history books, pedigree charts, etc.
Organize a genealogy-related activity for youth night — like an index-a-thon. (Readers: please add other ideas to the comment section below.) Our classmates agreed that the shock on their leaders' faces after willingly proposing a family history activity would be worth it just to get the reaction.
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As a missionary opportunity or reactivation opportunity, invite someone to your local family history library or to view the FamilySearch website with you.
Personally, I’ve always planned to work on family history someday — when I’m retired, in the dead of winter and after “the cows come home.” But, I was changed after our Sunday School discussion.
The time is now, this week, and it’s only a computer click away.