Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bringing Grandpa's mission journal to light

My grandfather joined the Mormon church at age 18. Two years later, he left his home in Idaho to preach the Gospel in the Great Lakes Mission. I first learned that Grandpa kept a daily journal of his mission when I was serving a mission myself in Argentina. My mom obtained it somehow and typed out sections to send me.

Reading about Grandpa's difficulties and successes, as well as his dilligent work ethic, inspired me to work harder and lift up my head during the rough times that all missionaries face. It was comforting to know someone I knew and loved so well had experienced the same thing before.

This past year my wife and I embarked on a project to make Grandpa's journal more widely available to the family. I had run across the original copy and did not want it to remain hidden in my grandparents' house for occasional discovery. With their permission, we took the journal home and did the following with it:
  1. Type - We transcribed the journal into Microsoft Word, preserving the original spelling and grammar as much as possible. Grandpa wrote most of the entries quickly at night and did not bother with periods or capital letters, so we divided the text into sentences as best we could. Once we finished the transcription, we gave the text a full proofread to fix our own typos and review parts that were difficult to interpret the first time around.

  2. Add mission letters - For a long time we've had the text of a handful of letters Grandpa sent home while on his mission. We put these in italic font and inserted them in the journal at the appropriate places in the chronology.

  3. Add pictures - We have several pictures of Grandpa near his mission age, which we inserted into the journal at appropriate spots. We also have his mission "business card" which we scanned and added to the journal near the beginning.

  4. Add maps - At the time of Grandpa's mission there tended to be only one branch or ward per large city, so he did a lot of traveling to surrounding towns. To help the reader follow the geography, we copied out maps of each area from Google Maps and placed them on a title page for each area.

  5. Add foreword - We wrote a brief introduction to the journal that communicated the journal's value to us, how we transcribed it, and what to expect when reading it.

  6. Print - With the above additions, the journal wound up taking about 50 double-sided pages. At 12 copies we calculated it was cheaper to buy a print cartridge or two and print the journals ourselves, rather than make 600 copies. We put the printer on a lower-quality "Fast" setting which, from what I could tell, printed everything well enough for distribution.

  7. Bind - We took the manuscripts to Office Depot and got them spiral bound with a plastic cover for several bucks each.

  8. Distribute - Our goal was to get a copy of the journal to each branch of Grandpa's posterity. We enjoyed wrapping up the journals as Christmas presents and mailing them to Grandpa, his seven children, and his three grandchildren currently serving or called on missions.


Erika said...

WOW! This is so neat. I bet your family is so grateful to have a copy of this. I know I would love to have a record like this of my dad or grandpa. I'm sure you also learned a lot about him while reading it. Sounds like a lot of work too. :)

Sterling said...

Yes, it was definitely lot of work. Knowing that it had to be done by Christmas is what helped us to finish it. And if my wonderful wife hadn't helped me finish the typing it wouldn't have seen the light of day. It was a nice project to work on together.

nuttbutts said...

congratulations, that sounds lika a very worthwhile and lenghty undertaking!

gregg + camille said...

So how can I get a copy?..I have been coveting my dad's ever since he opend it! Can I send you money for one? Or a CD to copy it too??

Chas said...

Hey, you've got a great blog! I just found it. That's a cool project! I bet you learned a ton about your grandpa and about the gospel! I love doing family history! Maybe someday I'll do a family history blog, but for now I just do a LDS daddy blog. Here's a link:

If you like it, you're welcome to put a link to it on your blog. If not, that's okay, thanks for your great stuff!

- Chas Hathaway