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LDS Church News

Building the kingdom despite disability

By Ryan Morgenegg

LDS Church News

Published: Saturday, May 31 2014 12:20 a.m. MDT

Tracey Brough at her computer in her bedroom.

Photo by Janet Brough

Tracey Brough entered this life almost 44 years ago with cerebral palsy. Despite having challenges speaking and controlling her right arm, right hand and right leg, she has lived a life of service. She has accomplished, with an infectious smile, things people with perfect health might consider difficult. To date, she has indexed almost 350,000 names in support of research and temple work by using only the index finger of her left hand.

“At age six, Tracey was living in a foster home in another state when we became aware of her through an adoption service for special needs children,” said her mother, Janet Brough. “She was sealed to us one year later.”

A stable and loving family, the Church, which was totally new to her, and school situations gradually enabled her to replace fear with confidence. “Explained by the inner nature she brought with her from the pre-earth life, Tracey’s sense of goodness and purity is innate, and her smile is undeniable,” said Marshall Brough, her father.

Because of cerebral palsy, Sister Tracey Brough’s energy expenditure is higher than average for every task. In spite of this, she was often considered by her teachers to be the hardest-working student in the class.

Because she cannot speak and has general use of only one hand, she signs the best she can. She signs using Signing Exact English. When she comes to unfamiliar words, she finger spells. Longer messages, or communications to people who do not sign, are handwritten with paper and pencil.

For 23 years, she has participated in special needs mutual. Although faces and logistics have changed over the years, the weekly Thursday-night activity has been constant, broken only by annual summer recesses. “In the course of 90 minutes each week with disabled peers, and under the leadership of inspired adult leaders and advisers, assisted by devoted youth counselors, Tracey’s spiritual and emotional battery is recharged with sufficient love, hope and confidence to sustain her through the coming week. Tracey is reminded every week that she is special and of infinite worth. This is the only place she has been able to totally celebrate who she is without being reminded of who she isn’t,” said Sister Janet Brough.

“We encountered nothing but roadblocks in searching for work opportunities,” said Brother Brough. “Every potential employer seemed to have a good reason why Tracey wouldn’t fit. We decided to consider volunteer work.”

Being aware of the Church’s name extraction program, and matching this with Sister Tracey Brough’s reliable one-handed, one-fingered keyboarding and work ethic, her parents and Church leaders made it possible for her to receive a calling to key in extracted names for the temple.

Her parents indicated three important factors that have contributed to her success with data entry: One, she always works hard at what she does. Two, she is dedicated to doing each task correctly. Three, she has only one standard: the right way.

Those checking her work comment on how consistent and accurate she is. She seeks and acts upon promptings from the Holy Ghost when interpreting handwriting. “Early on, she recognized the need to work to be happy,” said Brother Brough. A journal entry from her father in August of 1993 reads, “Tracey went several days without an extraction packet to enter and noticed how important her work is for her.”

Sister Tracey Brough refers to indexing as “my work” and almost every prayer she offers includes a statement of gratitude for “my work.” She understands that the information about deceased people helps to prepare their names for temple work. She loves to be in the temple.

A typical workday for her, when doing extraction work both pre- and post-mission, is to spend four hours doing indexing. During her two-year service mission with her parents to Australia, she increased her time to a full day, and sometimes longer. The makeup of a record (e.g., census, marriage, birth, death, passport, ship register) varies in terms of complexity. Her parents have record counts for her indexing work, and they have extrapolated the record count related to the extraction program era as follows:

• 19 years of extraction entry (1989 to 2008): 228,000 names (estimated at 12,000 per year)

• Two-year service mission (2008 to 2010): 43,228 records

• Post-mission (2010 to present): 74,329 records

“Tracey does have down moments,” said Brother Brough. “But they don’t last long. She is always willing to accept suggestions, reconsider her attitude and bounce back to her happy self.”

Arnold Grundvig, director of special needs mutual where she attends said, “She is an example of someone who has truly consecrated her time, talents and all she has been blessed with to the work of the Lord. She is an inspiration to those who take the time to know her.”

“Her big smile is genuine,” said Sister Janet Brough. “Tracey brings out the best in people and helps them to be happier than they would otherwise be. Some simply realize that they should not complain about their own challenges, and others reflect her smile and carry it with them.”

rmorgenegg@desnews.com