The Spirit of Sacrifice

A faithful brother received a letter that he was called to serve a mission. His mind began to fill with doubt. In response, he wrote all the reasons why this calling would be difficult for him to accept. He only had one arm and was working as a miner to provide for his four children and pregnant wife. If he accepted the call, his family could no longer live at the mining camp and they had no one to board with during the duration of his mission.

However, he resolved that if the brethren felt he should serve a mission, he would obey. With Abrahamic faith, he knew the Lord would help him find a way to fulfill this difficult calling. He wrote a letter of acceptance to the leaders of the Church, which also explained his situation, but they responded and compassionately excused him to care for his family. His faithful acceptance and willingness to serve were enough.

“The spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by this devoted brother powerfully touched my heart,” Barbara Ostler, one of the volunteers for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project said. “It continues to bless me in my life, and I have shared it with others.”

To share the inspiring stories found in the Wilford Woodruff Papers like this one, transcribing letters is an important procedure. The transcription process involves deciphering difficult handwriting, typing the transcription into our online text editing software, adding HTML coding, and including hyperlinks to pages with historical context to help readers connect with each place and person mentioned in the letters.

No one is more qualified for that intense task than our incredible volunteer Barbara Ostler. She has been the top transcriber of the letters for both April and May, which means she has transcribed more letters than any of the staff or volunteers on the Letters Team.

“It is difficult to do,” said Letters Team Lead, Jason Godfrey. “There are a lot of different Editorial procedures and rules that we must strictly follow. Barbara has really been self-reliant and diligent. We are amazed by all the work that she has done.”

Before Barbara became more personally involved in the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project through transcribing, she was a financial supporter of the Foundation.

“We are grateful for her contributions, both the time and resources she shares and devotes to the Project,” expressed Jason. “She is an amazing example and we couldn’t do this without her!

Barbara and her husband Don found out about the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project through their colleague, Steve Wheelwright, who serves as an advisor to the Foundation. Barbara spoke with Steve’s wife, Margaret, who is a donor and a volunteer transcriber.

She knew Barbara enjoyed working at her own pace and on her own schedule doing indexing on FamilySearch, but she felt she might also enjoy applying those skills to another project. Margaret shared her own incredible experiences and encouraged Barbara to get involved in the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. Since Barbara joined the Letters Team, she has been a tremendous asset in moving the work forward.

Barbara Ostler hard at work

Board Secretary Kristy Taylor also works as a volunteer transcriber and has been impressed with Barbara’s work. “She is doing well even though the work can be tedious with lots of stops and starts. She has figured out all the technological aspects and has picked up on the editorial instructions quickly. She’s eager to do the work and loves to read and learn from the letters. I’ve loved working with her.”

We are happy to recognize Barbara and thank her for exemplary work and dedication to the Project!

If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at or sign up directly on our website at