HASTINGS NEW ZEALAND ⁠— With tons of time on their hands, the saints in Hastings, New Zealand got busy helping people find their ancestors by indexing over 965,000 genealogical records during COVID-19 lockdown from 21 March to 23 June this year.

According to the Church, at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, Church leaders in Hastings asked local church member Jerry Edwards for ideas to help members get involved in something constructive while being locked in their homes.

He quickly replied indexing. Church leaders then took the idea and started with a goal to index 50,000 names and gathered 7 people. Then miracles started to happen. Members started to invite other members to their indexing project and posting words of encouragement on their ward social media pages. As a result, many joined the project from 7 indexers turned into 114.

Within the first few days of April, they already processed 50,000 names, so they adjust the goal to 100,000 which was again reached in just two weeks. By the end of April they had indexed 221,000 and at the end of May hit 487,760. As of 25 June, they already indexed 965,000 names. Inspired by their achievement, they targeted 1 million named by the end of June.

Sandy Bates increased his own indexing activity during the lockdown. “I was excited to have time to index daily as opposed to just weekends,” he said.

“It started with my wife and me, but grew to include more members of our family of eight. We discussed the importance of indexing these records. We looked at the dates and realized how long these sons and daughters of God have been waiting to have their saving ordinances done for them in the temple, and will continue to wait if we do not make their records available. There was a spark in everyone’s eyes and an understanding of the importance of the task at hand. We soon realized that including the children in this work invited the spirit of peace and love into our home.”

Others had similar experiences. One participant, Mere, said: “We have been blessed to have the NZ Electoral Roll project which has been particularly meaningful. I was so rapt when I had the opportunity to add my grandmother’s brother to the database.”

George, another volunteer, said: “I was a novice indexer when I started this project. Having a goal, a ward indexing page on social media and a wife who is a capable indexer helped a lot. Even with using just two fingers, I can now say I know how to index and I love it. Indexing is also a great bonding activity for my wife and me. We love that we are able to give such a meaningful service from home.”

“I found myself clapping my hands when I figured out a difficult problem,” says fellow Church member, Ripeka. “It’s a real live thing, it’s personal, it’s spiritual. Also, indexing your own country is more personal. Having the opportunity to index people closer to Nuhaka (Ripeka’s home town), the wairua (spirit) was so strong. It pulls you deeper emotionally and mentally.”

Another indexer, Hirini, added that “indexing has become a joy and I feel the fruits of the spirit and feelings of peace when engaged in this effort. What a joy and blessing it is to be doing the Lord’s work.”

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