The Illegible Name

Hide Footnotes


“The Illegible Name,” Ensign, Sept. 1983, 52

The Illegible Name

While working as a Spanish language extractor in the Tucson Arizona East Stake Genealogical Library, I became aware of the special power that attends this work.

One day I came across a name in the microfilm that was almost completely illegible. I knew that there was a “d” in the middle of the name and that it ended in an “a”. My closest scrutiny of the handwriting would reveal no more.

Silently I bowed my head and prayed for guidance. I remembered the Lord’s admonition to Oliver Cowdery that “you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:8.)

Using the Spanish name lists, I began laboriously to write down all possible names with a “d” in the middle and an “a” on the end. In my study of the illegible name, I suddenly noticed the misplaced dot for the letter “i”. The dot was concealed in the line of writing above the one I was working on. I then knew the name ended in “ia”.

Soon after this discovery, knowledge and warmth flooded through my body as I recognized the name “Prudencia”. It was as plain to my sight as if the illegible word had not existed. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this was the name.

Some months later I attended a genealogy seminar which concluded with a testimony meeting. It was exciting to hear how many of the extractors had experiences similar to mine. A beautiful Mexican sister stood and said, “I feel impressed to thank you for my people.” Tears flowed down her cheeks as she concluded, “Someday you may meet them. Behind the veil they will introduce themselves to you.”

In my imagination I could see a lovely Spanish lady with extended hands, saying, “I am Prudencia. You extracted my name. Muchas Gracias.”