|Two good friends view the south side of the Manti Utah LDS temple.|
You may not know that my Florida friend Jody Riddick has just completed her year long FamilySearch mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Myrt & I had the honor of having Jody stay with us during her time here in Utah. (Unlike the younger, two-by-two proselyting missionaries, FamilySearch missionaries can live at home and commute.)
Jody previously served many years as the director of the Sarasota Family History Center, and was a strong supporter of the Manasota PAF Users Group to which most of us genealogists in Manatee County, Florida belonged.
It is truly amazing all that Jody accomplished during her mission. Despite the difficulty getting up and down our staircase, Jody was there every morning to catch her bus, and serve in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building as part of FamilySearch World Wide Support. She and the other FamilySearch missionaries handled some of the hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls the LDS Church receives weekly from folks needing help with their family history research. The call volume increased considerably immediately prior to the annual NGS Conference which was held this year in Salt Lake City.
Most days Jody came home exhausted, but ever cheerful and obviously happy to serve. We loved to hear about the odd challenges that she and her fellow missionaries encountered ~ weird requests, testy patrons, malfunctioning training computers, changes in support software and telephone systems. Oh my!
During this time, our Florida gal had to face one of the more severe winters Utah has had in decades. Though she was from Michigan, you gotta know that life in Florida thins one's blood. Yet Jody kept up with her assignments. Even following surgery, Jody got back to work much more quickly than I would have considered customary for recovery. Jody's dedication demonstrates her love of family history and temple work.
Jody distinguished herself as a trainer (of new family history missionaries) as her talents with the computer came shining through. She was also able to do some comprehensive personal genealogical research on her monthly 1/2 day off to visit the Library. I enjoyed working through some of the research conclusions with her. That gal is a whiz!
Jody will return to Sarasota with the assignment to continue to serve 8-10 hours per week, telecommuting as a quality assurance person, reviewing previous responses for assistance for tone and accuracy. As the newFamilySearch website rolls out to the world (now only to LDS Church members) the volume of work will increase. Fortunately, Jody's adaptability and natural curiosity to learn will see her through these coming major changes.
So to recap ~ Thursday was Jody's last day on her mission.
Friday we packed Jody's car for the trip home.
Saturday Jody followed us as we all went down to see Red Canyon, the Manti Utah LDS Temple (shown above), Bryce Canyon, Zion' National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We had a wonderful time marveling at the grandeur and majesty of the world our Heavenly Father created for us. After our sad farewells yesterday, Mr. Myrt and I returned to Salt Lake City, as Jody headed south for her home in Sarasota.
I am thankful for the hundreds of FamilySearch missionaries who take time out of their lives later in life to augment the Family History Library staff and to accomplish a thousand other things that we'll never know about. Jody did this at her own expense, contributing nearly 40 hours each week.
We just couldn't have anticipated such a happy, productive year. Jody is indeed a true friend, and we will surely miss her presence in our home.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.