Better Than a Loaf of Bread

By Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson is serving a mission in Tahiti.

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My priests quorum adviser offered a homemade loaf of bread forindexing 100 names, but I found a much greater motivation.

Better Than a Loaf of Bread

Illustration by Patrick Laurent

My mom is the genealogist in our family. She’s researched over 10 generations of our family line, taught herself to read German, and has an abundance of knowledge about the cultural traditions of different time periods.

I, on the other hand, have never been good at history, and I’ve always been content to let other people do our family history work. However, my reluctance changed one Sunday in July.

My priests quorum adviser, Brother Holland, who is famous for his homemade wheat bread, gave the entire priests quorum a challenge: “If you go home and index 100 names through FamilySearch by the end of the night, I will bake you an entire loaf of bread.”

The first thing I did when I got home was to access the indexing tool at FamilySearch.org/indexing. When I downloaded the first batch, I met my first set of problems. First, the handwriting on the records was hard to read and sometimes unintelligible. The second and much more serious problem was that I couldn’t read cursive. Luckily, with the help of the Internet, I worked my way carefully through the first few names until I got the hang of it. Reading and writing the names started to go faster.

I tried to picture in my mind the families as I input their names. I saw families from all over the world—from Italy, Ireland, Germany, and more. When I read their names, I felt like I somehow knew them. When I came across a name I couldn’t read, I didn’t give up. I thought of every possibility and even searched the Internet for what it might be. I wanted to get it right.

It wasn’t too long before I finished my 100 names. I called Brother Holland and reported that I had completed the task. Later, I got my loaf of bread. The next week, he made the same offer. I went home and indexed more names, but this time I didn’t report it. I realized that I wanted to do it—not because I wanted bread, but because I genuinely wanted to help the people I was recording. I wanted their descendants to be able to find them and help them. It was a great feeling to be a part—even just a small part—of family history work.