Blessed to be the mother of five children, eight grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, 77-year-old Carol Dunkley once enjoyed a life of physically active service, and was a keen gardener. Nowadays Carol, a member of the Townsville First Branch, which is part of the Townsville District in North Queensland, Australia, does what she can to be of service to the Lord because her body has developed some restrictions.
She remembers well the day in 2010 when a neurologist announced her ailment: “You have Parkinson’s.” Having had a hip replacement three years prior, Carol had suspected something was amiss with her hip because she couldn’t walk properly and went to her GP, who referred her to a specialist – so this Parkinson’s diagnoses came as a shock.
The disease doesn’t yet have a cure. Initially Carol had trouble walking; unfortunately, it progressed to instability and mobility uncertainty.
“Thankfully there are medications and surgical procedures that greatly help,” said Carol. She began a course of medications and felt much better. But frustrations became part of her life as she had to rely on others to do for her what she could no longer do herself – like gardening.
“I know that it is not curable. No surgery can fix it. One of the greatest lessons I have learnt is to take each day as it comes. If it is a good day my prayer of thanks is given. If it has been a bad day – well tomorrow should be better. If things get too bad, I read. It takes me away from my problems and into another world; I know my faith is a great advantage. I am not alone. His help and comfort are always there. There is a lot to be thankful for, even though at times I have to look a bit harder for the blessings,” said Carol.
With physical service at a limit, Carol looked for a way she might still serve the Lord in a meaningful way – she found indexing – and for the past nine years has experienced great joy in helping to gather Israel in this important effort.
Carol’s journey to family history service has been a long time coming. Her father passed away when she was seven, and unfortunately the connection between her mother and her paternal family ceased cause of a rift in the family. She does wish she had taken the time to gather information from her living relatives about their experiences and connections when they were still alive.
Married life in England was a struggle and she and her husband made the decision to immigrate to Australia in 1966 as ‘10-pound pommies’ – the amount paid to each of them to travel by ship to relocate in Australia. Once settled in their new land, they looked for religion. Almost unbelievably, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on their door and were eagerly invited in. As gospel principles and doctrines were taught, they felt familiar to the couple, and they loved learning about the covenants they could make with Heavenly Father.
Carol said: “When we were taught the law of tithing, I was sure we would starve. But with faith we obeyed and opportunities to improve our financial affairs started. A promotion at work for Michael, my husband – and the blessings just kept coming. Tithing is not about money; it is about faith. We were baptized and never looked back. It was one of the best decisions of our lives.
“The gospel opened a whole new world for me. The promise of Elijah – turning the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the [hearts of the] fathers to the children . . . my heart was turned to my ancestors.”
When Carol first searched for her ancestors 50 years ago – it was difficult and expensive, especially when looking for English relatives while she was living in Australia. FamilySearch has been such a blessing to her; no need now to sit and read microfilms to search out her family.
She said, “To date I have indexed 95,408 names and reviewed 18,476, a total of 113,884.
“I mostly index the English records as I am familiar with the names of places and also the English surnames . . .. It has also been amusing – at one stage I was going into some English records and the very early ones turned out to be written in Latin.
“At first, I just sent the batch back! Then I thought, ‘maybe I will take up this challenge.’ So, I reviewed the batches to get the feel of the records. Then I googled the Latin words for Birth, Marriage, Death, Mother and Father, which enabled me to complete the indexing, this made me feel quite pleased with myself that I had managed to index some records written in Latin.
“I can remember the thrill I felt when I saw a copy of the original marriage certificate of my grandfather on a microfilm, and saw his signature and that of my grandmother. I’m sure that my grandad would never have thought that one day his granddaughter would be sitting at a microfilm reader looking at that same certificate image from faraway Australia.”
A few “how to” workshops after Carol’s Sunday meetings have been held and the youth were also invited. Carol finds it amazing to see how confident young people are when using computers. Now, a number of their church youth make valiant efforts to index, and really enjoy the work.
“Who knows,” said Carol, “when it is my time to move on to the next stage of my eternal journey, I might just meet up with one of those sisters or brothers in the gospel whose name I’ve indexed, and who took the opportunity to accept the gospel ordinances as their name was taken through the temple. What a joy that would be!
“When I index names in FamilySearch, I pray that there may be many who have had the excitement of finding their ancestors on FamilySearch through the efforts of all those volunteers who engage in the indexing work of salvation.”