It seems I have come to a lot of crossroads in my life. Each new decision to go down yet another road leads me to a better understanding of who I have become and a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father. I know how to become better in the good and bad times. The experiences I have had in genealogy has played a huge role in my life.
As new ventures approach for me, I am excited. I look forward with anticipation, but I am not moving in haste this time. I am more focused on tying up loose ends because I may not pass this way again. With one foot in the present and the other in the future, I am reflecting on what experiences have been the most dear to me. I have grown a lot in Greenwood, and the situations which have enabled me to grow the most have been when I have been in the service of others through family history work.
One key place that I felt really drawn to when I moved here was the Greenwood County Library. I felt there was much to learn there, and I would share what I knew. I began volunteering in the genealogy room as soon as I arrived. I was able to do several presentations there. One key element that has allowed inspiration to flow and me to grow is the fact that from the first time I met everyone whether they were staff or volunteers, we were excited to learn from each other.
Never once from first sight of each other did I have to work past the intial experience that African Americans have on first meeting people who are a different. There was no awkwardness or initial tenseness of the body or judging based on my color. I saw that each of us worked hard to help everyone find information. No one was intimidated about helping with African American ancestors. We all worked the same, and no one reffered patrons to me because they were the same color as me. They never assumed I only did African American genealogy research. I have always been impressed by that.
Because I have family who lived in this area that I never met, some of the volunteers would share stories with me. I found out a few embarrassing things about some family members from people in the community, but no one ever breathed a word of that to me at the library out of respect. This genuineness has allowed channels to open between us where knowledge and inspiration have followed.
We have respected each other's religious beliefs, and I have met and served alongside people from their congregations. I have never felt the need to prove myself or my abilities in any way. This rural Southern experience of mine is just incredible given the conficts that occur among people in society today. The ultimate experience came a couple of weeks ago during my Thursday shift.
Be still and know
I had given another requested overview on FamilySearch.org on Monday, February 1st for all genealogy volunteers. On Thursday, February 11, Jim Ravencraft, a genealogy volunteer came in to talk about his research. Jim is the person who went into Fairview Cemetery alone in March of 2014 and cut a path through 15 foot trees to every grave taking a photo. He found my family, and is responsible for helping me to discover other family members in other surrounding cemeteries. Before I sat down, he gave this to me to remember the library by:
My immediate impression was not that it was just a rock with a scripture on it. It felt more like a message that I needed to receive at that moment. I started thinking about how I have never felt adequate as a teacher unless I could see that someone could carry on and teach others in the same way. I never really have vocalized that at the library, but that has always been in the back of my mind. People have started to panic a little. I have been worried about who will help them in the way that I have when I am gone.
As I sat watching Jim work on his laptop, I started to direct him through his tree on FamilySearch.org. I soon realized I did not need to do that. He had learned how to navigate. I then looked closer at what he had added. I discovered to my great surprise that I was not seeing empty profiles without photos. I saw that he has added a great deal including photos and stories! I saw the story about his mother entitled, "A mother and her legacy, Abed sed non oblitus."
Ellis came over to see all the excitement. I just kept thinking about the message on that rock. Be still and know that I am God did not mean to just wait it out and the desired result would just manifest itself. It meant to do I all can do, and then be still. I always forget the be still part. After I was reminded that it was time to be still, I saw the answer right before my eyes. I was looking at the person fully able and happy to teach. He has already begun to teach the importance of adding everything you know (attaching records), photos, and stories to Family Tree:
This is the result that is achieved when people put aside all differences and remember that we are all first and foremost children of a Heavenly Father and strive to treat one another as such. That qualifies us to receive guidance and inspiration. I am so grateful to have served alongside people who exemplify that.