“Generations of Service,” New Era, Mar. 1988, 37
Carrie Hamer, 16, of the Bloomington Ward, Minneapolis Minnesota Stake, sounds almost like she’s telling a mystery story.
“In the corner of the pastor’s house in Albig, West Germany, there were these extremely old books, hundreds of years old. I was amazed that he even let us go through them. We could see right away that the records in them took our family back six or seven generations, and so we were copying as fast as we could. When he went in the other room, we kneeled and prayed that he wouldn’t get irritated and make us leave, and that we could finish quickly.
“Way off in the corner we saw a copy machine. It was really strange, because this house was ancient. But he let us use these old books and put them right on the copy machine. We copied 118 pages, about 1,500 names, half of them our direct ancestors with their complete families. Without the photocopier, I think we’d still be scribbling notes, and who knows how many errors we could have made.”
When Carrie and her mother, Ginger, returned home, they organized the youth in their ward, taught them how to read Old German script, and helped them prepare the names to be submitted for work at the Chicago Temple.
“We knew we were going to the temple, and we wanted to make the experience more meaningful,” explains Sister Hamer, a counselor in the ward Young Women presidency and a past president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. “We wanted the youth to know that these names for which they would be baptized were not just names; they were actual people. We could even show them photos of their hometown.
“But it wasn’t until they began actually working with the names that the people became real. Suddenly the youth were saying things like, ‘Hey, this person was born on Christmas,’ or ‘This family had three sets of twins.’”
Young people in the stake became so interested that they spent several summer vacation days copying names. Then in October, 36 teenagers traveled to the temple and were vicariously baptized for 565 people who were no longer just names on a chart. The rest of the 1,500 names were also submitted for temple work.