You Cannot Fail

I found something out recently. I found out that I can’t fail.

For a recovering perfectionist (seriously, but really, seriously), this is a hard thing to initially swallow. 
Several months ago I got another calling in the ward. I’m still going 4 1/2 years strong with my service calling (which I love), but apparently I had a little more learning and refining in store. I was called to be the Family History co-chair in the ward. Really, I’m just a family history consultant. But we do everything in co-chairs in singles wards, so there you go.
Now you may think that I was a little bit intimidated and you would be right. It’s intimidating to be in a calling where you’re trying to help people do research when you don’t know everything yourself. But it is a calling I love. My mom has taught me to do family history since I was little. It has always been a part of my life. And the past several years, I’ve spent nearly every Sunday in the Family History Center in our ward helping people anyway. So it just made official something I already loved to do. But then actually gave me responsibility and stewardship over it. So it was no longer just a help here and help there kind of thing, but the real McCoy. Now, I had to wait two months between the time I was called and the time I was sustained. Not sure why, but that’s what happened. So I hemmed and hawed and stewed over what I needed to do and how I was going to do it.
When I was finally sustained and set apart by Brother White, he said something surprising in the blessing. He told me twice that I cannot fail. Because this is the the Lord’s work.
Turns out it was a good thing he said that. The good news is that family history in our ward has actually been taking off. There is a lot of interest and the Spirit of Elijah has touched many hearts.
Photographic evidence of people not indexing. The bishop
tried to stage it to look like we actually had a
successful activity. Also, it’s a good thing I went looking
for this picture, which was inadvertently deleted, along with 200
other photos from my ward picture album on Dropbox.

But you’re wondering about the “cannot fail” part … Around mid-July, the Church announced a cool initiative. They were going to get 50,000 indexers to index a batch of records in one day. Just one day! “How cool is that?” said family history Liz. And she set about to invite the whole ward to come up to the Church on that Sunday evening and index. Exciting, right? (#whyimsingle. Also, side note: lots of people told me they love my “dating blog”. Dating blog? This isn’t a dating blog? I never mention it in my serious posts! Right….) So we got the Family History Center set up, we pumped up the ward and blasted out invites on social media. And the people came. Nearly 35 cycled through that night. And guess how many batches we got done? NONE! Zero! ZIPPO! None, I say.

Turns out if 50,000 people all try to log on at the same time, then the Indexing servers crash and burn and die. And thus it was, that of the 35 people, not a single one was able to successfully complete a batch and send it in. We did have two who after 2 hours of watching the spinning wheel of death on their computers, finally got logged in. One actually was able to get a batch done, but the submission wouldn’t work. Can you index in a day? No you can’t, you can’t, I say!
So I may have died a little that night.

Enter recovery phase.

Then enter family history Liz again. We were assigned to do a Family History activity for FHE. By this time I had a little group of consultants together and a co-chair, and if I do say so myself, we planned a killer activity. We decorated…for FHE. You know, we don’t mess around. I should have taken a picture for Pinterest of everyone’s family history books, pictures, and memorabilia. It was cool. We had people bring family recipes for dessert.

We showed this video, which makes me cry because:
1) I truly believe that our ancestors watch out for us at all times, but especially in those hard times.
2) The day I found a copy of one of my ancestors’ entries in a Family Bible, I cried.

So we were all set up for an awesome experience. And we had like 40+ people show up at FHE…for family history!

You cannot fail, he said.

But the Wi-Fi can. I came early to set up and my computer wouldn’t connect. Tried my other laptop. No luck. Another person came. No connection. Connection failed. And it repeated every time another person came in the door. Finally a few came in who were able to connect (what??) and we got a Hotspot going for a few. My 15 minute prepared lesson turned into 30 minutes of frustration trying to at least say something inspirational and not feel upset that I couldn’t demo the awesomeness of FamilySearch, Puzzilla, Ancestry and so on very well. I fumbled through some sort of mix of telling people that we’d have to go back to pen and paper like our ancestors and then I just finished up in a puddle of embarrassment. We had the family history center open. A gal asked for help. I went with her and helped her the rest of the evening. I abandoned those wi-fi broken computers and those interested seekers and basically hid in a corner. When it finally sounded like everyone was leaving, I went and cleaned up my things. My committee said that it was all fine and that it was all ok. The bishop tried to reassure me. First a failed indexing event. Then this. I got in my car and cried (come on, I know you’re not surprised at that).

You cannot fail, he said.

After a lot of thinking and pondering and chatting with the Lord, I started to feel it. I hadn’t failed because I really can’t. The Wi-Fi wasn’t working, yes. But 40+ people came to learn about family history. Several told me they learned something new. One sister found 10 family names. Another learned how to to descendancy research. Another fixed an endless loop on FamilySearch that we’d been trying to fix the entire previous Sunday. What seemed a failure was not a failure at all. Instead, it was just a little blip in time when things didn’t go quite right.

And you know, my ancestors have still got my back. My great-grandma Eva Rosina Klingler Stitt wrote a beautiful poem that I have long loved and that came to mind because of this event.

Success may be made by the goals we have gained, 
Regardless of hardship and cares. 
Success may mean sometimes the wheat we have gleaned 
In spite of the weeds and the tares. 
Success may mean reaching the goal we have made — 
When easy paths beckoned, we tenaciously stayed. 
But he, too, succeeds, who is doing his best –
Who would do a hundred, regardless the test. 
If we will remember as we journey through life, 
True success comes from loving – not hatred and strife. 
Success is not counted by the trophies we have won. 
Nor the races we have beaten at the start of the gun. 
But, by rendering service as we go along, 
By doing for others to the tune of a song. 
By helping our fellow man to lighten his load. 
To help with his burden, though rough be his road. 
When the last curtain falls, we will be ready to go, 
If we can truthfully say we served here below. 
Eva Rosina Klingler Stitt
Truly, you cannot fail, He said.

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3 Replies to “You Cannot Fail”

  1. Your great grandma knows what's up!

  2. What a great post! I loved reading this Liz. Thanks for the pick-me-up. 🙂

  3. You need someone who is good at the technology-especially the computers..I read your article on dating and it made me really want to read your blog to find out about you. Those guys who are busy fixing computers and coding and doing IT would be a wonderful co-chair for you. I'm going to go out on a limb and invite you to look up
    Travis M. who served a mission in Rapid City SD. He works with you at Des News. He's married and has two kids, but he served a mission with my husband and myself and while we were in the mission field our son visited Rapid City from BYU and attended a wedding of one of Travis' converts (DJaye).at the Salt Lake Temple. Our son is your age, has a full time job in the IT field and is tired of the teenyboppers in BYU singles wards. If interested, ask Travis to put you in touch and we'll see if he can fix your computer problems!

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