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A changing view of family history

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Keith and Polly Thomas of Heber City, Utah, have served two missions, but their third mission call is unlike any they have ever known.

The couple, in their early 70s, received the call on their 53rd wedding anniversary. They are in the Charleston Ward, Midway Utah Stake.

Designed especially for the Olympics, their mission was to set up a family history center to be up and running when people from all over the world visiting Utah could have the advantage of using it during the Olympics.

They were excited about their new assignment, but didn't know where to start.

"When we were asked to do it, we had no idea what to do," he said. "It's strictly the Lord who guided us."

They thought one of the most important things to do was to change the image of family history, he said.

They started by asking young, returned missionaries to fulfill most of the roles. They recruited 76 young people to help at the library, located in a Church cultural hall on Midway's Main Street. It is equipped with desks, chairs and computers, all of which have been donated.

They also wanted the library to have a more comfortable feel.

"We have tried to make this a spiritual place; all are going to be guests," he said.

They expect the library to have a big impact on visitors during the Olympics. "I think we can show them some pretty marvelous things that the Church has," he said.

The goal is to have people walking away with documents showing how easy family history is. Visitors will be able to locate libraries that are closest to their homes and have those addresses printed out.

The couple is excited to see what will happen during the Olympics and afterward. They don't know how long their call will last; they just hope it will be for a long time.

E-mail: ngrubbs@desnews.com