As I prepared the RootsTech giveaway post last week (see here) and scrolled through all the pictures of last year's conference I couldn't help but feel disappointed that I didn't write everything down right after it happened. I had surgery (I did write a little bit about that here) 3 weeks prior on my nose and I was still not fully recovered. I don't know what I was thinking that I could manage RootsTech and thankfully the Lord blessed me with added strength not my own, but by the time I got home I crashed and was in bed for a couple of weeks. Things are a little fuzzy around that time.
Looking at the photos helped me remember a few things, but as I reflected a little distance has also allowed me now to focus on the things that were most meaningful. It also allowed me to see a pattern of things that have happened at every conference that I thought I would share with you. A what to expect when you go to RootsTech.
CONNECTIONS: I have never been to a conference that I haven't met several people that have some sort of connection to me. They know my parents or grandparents. We attended the same university or random event. There is always something big or small that can bring people together and can add additional meaning to a conversation or acquaintance. I have always come away from RootsTech feeling blessed by the friendships I have made and the meaningful conversations with friends and strangers I have in the halls or classrooms. I learned about their genealogical pursuits and in some cases unique and beautiful ways in which family stories are preserved and shared for future generations. It's always inspiring.
This past year I saw this over and over again, perfect strangers met and would find a connection that brought an exchange of numbers and I hope in the end lasting friendships. I was introduced to people who had just met in the lunch line, a conversation started and they discovered they were distant cousins and were able to fill in blanks in each other's lines. I have seen friends from all over the world come together each year and pick up as if it was just yesterday that they were together. It makes me wonder about the reunions that happen with our ancestors. Do those same relationships take place?
The people are what brings me back to RootsTech year after year. The relationships of love are everywhere.
KNOWLEDGE: I always learn something new, usually many new things. I guess this is a given if you are going to a conference with classes new knowledge is expected, but I'm talking about learning unexpected things. I expect to learn about family history, I didn't expect the rest.
One presentation last year that I have continued to think about was given by CeCe Moore (see it here). I had not considered the impact this can have on research and connection. After hearing her speak I went and purchased DNA kits for my family and as the year has progressed and people have completed their tests such interesting information has emerged. Conversations with extended family has been a highlight as we gather around and talk about the results. The DNA results have been particularly helpful for my adopted children and learning a little bit more about where their biological family comes from.
Another amazingly unexpected presenter was LeVar Burton. I laughed, I cried (ugly crying) and everything in between. You will not want to miss his speech (see here). I have an entire post about him that I will share tomorrow, never thought I would have a LeVar Burton post.
I wasn't able to attend any classes this past conference due to my rehearsing/teaching schedule and appointments so I missed that and am hoping to be able to learn from more of the amazing teachers that volunteer their time to be part of the conference. The ones that I met and talked to were not only knowledgeable but so kind and thoughtful.
If you can't come to RootsTech they record all of the keynotes and many of the classes for you to watch at a later date. You can find 2017 videos here. A couple of other sessions you might be interested in: Elder Ballard (leadership session) and Elder Cook (leadership session)
EXPO HALL. I will be the first to admit that the Expo Hall overwhelms me. I'm an introvert and this many people all in one place with hundreds of booths makes me want to run and hide, but it's amazing! Genealogy people are so very nice! They are eager to help and make connections. Everywhere I looked someone was helping someone with something, from research helps when stuck to the latest website or app to make life easier. There are products to help you tell and publish your story or your ancestors. There are booths for charts, beautiful charts (my cousins who own FamilyTree Prints will be here this year), decorative items, and more can be found.
If you only walked around the Expo Hall you could take classes in the demo theater, you would discover your ancestors in the discovery center, and you could bring photos and books to scan with FamilySearch. All the major genealogy sites have booths were they teach and help with research. Just writing all this makes me exhausted and excited to see what will be in this year's Expo Hall.
The pictures above are from the new(opened in February 2017) family discovery center at the Family History Library, just down the street at 35 N West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. If you get a chance I would stop there. The new furnishings are beautiful and you know how much I love the recording booths (you can see a clip here and another one here). I adore the trees with the wool leaves!
FAMILY HISTORY. Of course, I can't forget the most important reason a person goes to RootsTech. It's about the people who have come before us. People who want to be remembered and treasured. I am always inspired by the way the keynote presenter from their various backgrounds share meaningful and insightful ways their family story has blessed and strengthened their lives. As Nkoyo lyamba shared at the conference, "No matter your background knowing your roots plays an important role in shaping your identity... How can we have a better world if we don't know where we came from? " (you can see more from her here)
All this time looking back has made me so excited about what I will learn at this year's conference! I can't wait. A few other random memories that I wanted to include here because this is part of my history. First, the Mormon Channel Story Mic people came and did recordings of people's stories and It was such fun. I went up with a few friends and it's a treasured memory that I now share with them. I have already written about it so you can find my recording here.
My picture was taken more times during the conference than at any other point in the year and I am always making crazy faces. The caricature artists were a fun addition, it was the small details, like the tree cookie cutters, etc that really made RootsTech special. The food theme this year was a favorite and I will certainly be writing more about that. Steve Rockwood's opening presentation was delightful and inspiring. Having met him several times during my missionary meetings I can tell you he is genuine and kind.
The last silly thing I wanted to remember was not being able to get into the final main event. I was with a group of people and the people guarding the door would not let us in despite our badges. They kept insisting that we needed the rubber wristbands. That morning as I was getting ready to leave for the conference I felt a little tug that I should put the bands in my bag. My children had already confirmed that they would not be able to come so I questioned why I should take them, but again the prompting came to put them in my bag. Fast forward to not being able to get in the door (which I appreciate the volunteers who give their time so I wasn't upset) and I remembered I had the bands in my bag. There was a big group of us and I had enough bands for everyone and we were able to go in a listen to the speakers. God is in the small details.
If you can make it this year, I hope you will go. If you can't, RootsTech is so wonderful about offering free sessions for your viewing. As I have been writing I have been making notes of things I want to be sure and record and photograph this year. Now on to the winner........