Thomas Wright Kirby (my great-grandfather) joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Beccles, Norfolk, England, in 1852.
The introductory page of his autobiography (written in 1887) included the names, birthdates and birthplaces of his parents and siblings. This vital information from his priceless life story served as a bridge between the living and the dead and opened the path that allows our family to provide proxy temple ordinances for thousands of Thomas' ancestors.
Thomas's son, Albert Kirby, continued the family tradition of journal keeping during his mission to the Cherokees in the Southwestern States Mission from 1898 to 1900. His journals detail Albert's great personal sacrifice in serving two years without purse or scrip, including his walking more than 4,088 miles and the 296 nights he slept outside because "he was refused entertainment."
Albert's son, my father Owen, was born in 1904. He kept personal journals through many years of his life and from these he began his autobiography. He recorded his determined efforts to provide spiritual and temporal nourishment for his wife, Edna, and their eight children. His life was an inspiring story of daily devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and service to the Church.
My opportunity to give full-time service to the Lord came in 1958 with my mission call to the Swiss-Austrian Mission. From these early beginnings my journal now covers more than half a century. I see the truth in President Spencer W. Kimball's teaching that keeping an ongoing record of our lives helps us be more aware of the Lord's guiding hand in our mortal journeys.
These journals and autobiographical writings covering more than 121 years thus served to bind four generations of fathers and sons. They include an almost unbroken chain of personal writings detailing our convictions, by word and deed, that Jesus is the Christ and that the Prophet Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the Lord's gospel. Dale Z. Kirby, Salem, Ore.