One Name at a Time
August 2022

“One Name at a Time,” For the Strength of Youth, Aug. 2022.

One Name at a Time

Getting started in indexing was hard! But Michelle began to notice unexpected blessings as she kept going.

young woman with family

Photographs by Cody Bell

Michelle was born with VACTERL association with hydrocephalus. “This means she has a lot of health problems,” say her parents. “But when Michelle hears there is something to be done, she will find a way.”

When President Nelson asked the youth to help gather Israel in 2018, Michelle T. of Oregon, USA, paid close attention.1

Then she decided to answer the challenge.

Almost immediately, however, she faced obstacles. Michelle wanted to get started with indexing, yet even with her membership number handy, she couldn’t sign up. Not with her parents’ help, and not with her grandparents’ help (and they are very big family history pros!).

young woman with parents

Even after going into the nearby family history center, things still weren’t working. This, by the way, is highly unusual! Normally it’s a fairly straightforward process. When the volunteers at the family history center finally got Michelle up and running, they looked at her and said, “You must be meant for great things in family history, because you’re facing a lot of opposition right from the start!”

She has indeed gone on to great things in family history. In fact, a video she shared during RootsTech 2021 ended up being the #1 watched video from the conference. She has an inspiring story to tell! And it’s only gotten more inspiring since then.

young woman using a smartphone

Michelle can’t speak, so she uses text on her phone to communicate.

A Small Start

At first, Michelle decided to do a batch or two of names each Sunday evening. She joined a video call with her grandparents so that they could help teach her the ropes.

“It was hard!” she says. “Cursive is hard!”

However, she was not going to be intimidated. Michelle kept at it. As she started learning more and getting better, she decided to set a goal for indexing 1,000 names in 2019.

young woman on computer

After hitting that goal, she set a much more ambitious goal for 2020—especially after the pandemic hit and she had more time available. She was soon indexing as many as 1,000 names each month!

As she kept indexing, bit by bit Michelle began noticing something interesting in her life—things were just simply getting better.

A Big Change

“I started noticing differences in my life,” says Michelle. “I felt healthier. I was kinder to my family. I felt calmer and more peaceful. I was happier! I wanted to do more good things. I felt the Spirit so much stronger! Indexing wasn’t just helping me, it was helping others.”

young woman preparing food

Michelle enjoys sewing and baking for her family. “It’s so fun to see them enjoy all the things I help create,” she says.

One of the other good things that began happening was an increased ability to focus on her other spiritual goals. “I was reading the scriptures more, especially the Book of Mormon,” Michelle says. “I also started studying my Sunday church lessons each week before class so I could be prepared for the discussions. Learning about my family history has become very important to me along with visiting the temple.”

Life can be hectic. Lots of stuff can get in the way! But Michelle has learned the blessings that come from carving out enough time to do family history work. “When I started indexing, I began to feel so much peace,” she explains. “Then my family started noticing the peace I felt and it started flowing into the rest of my family. Our whole home just felt more calm and peaceful, and it is amazing. Jesus Christ is the source of peace. By doing the work that I have been called to do, I received a blessing of peace, the type of peace only the Savior can give. The best part is being able to share that blessing with others.”

young woman using a computer

Michelle loves teaching others how to do family history.

A Way to Help Others

Clearly, Michelle has felt the blessings firsthand of how indexing blesses her life. She also has a testimony of how her efforts can also bless many other lives on both sides of the veil.

young woman on computer teaching family history to brothers

One experience she likes to share to teach this point is that her grandmother had been looking for a specific ancestor for a long time, without any luck. Then a few years back, somebody indexed the name of this family member. That’s all it took for Michelle’s grandmother to be able to find this ancestor at last!

“That story really motivates me,” Michelle says. Small steps connect many dots and bless many lives.

young woman

A Way to Get Started

Is it easy to get started and find time for family history? Well, no. At least not usually. Most of us are going to have to shift a few things around in order to make some time. But here, too, Michelle has some tips to get going.


  1. Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel” (worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018), HopeofIsrael.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.