Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
The words of the scripture found in Jeremiah, are quoted in my husband's patriarchal blessing along with the admonition, found in both our blessings, that stresses the importance of doing our family history, as the first members of our families to join the Church.
This mission has always been a privilege to us, rather than a burden. And so, in the 27 years we have been members, we have been able to do the research and temple work for thousands of ancestors. Even so, with the increase of genealogy activity provided through the Internet, we are feeling overwhelmed and are beginning to understand why Moses was astonished when he beheld in vision the inhabitants of the earth, whose numbers were great, even numberless, as the sand upon the sea shore. (Moses 1:28.) We can't keep up with all the updates and e-mails! In addition to our own research, I am the ward family history consultant. I have received much joy from assisting others, but am beginning to wonder how we can possibly accomplish it all.
Not long ago, my distant cousin Bertha's face appeared in my mind. From time to time I've had similar experiences. These individuals stay with me until I figure out what it is I've not yet done. But I was certain cousin Bertha's work had been done for her. And yet, I couldn't get her off my mind.
Not long after I became aware of her concern, I began receiving e-mails from distant Ullmann cousins, most of whom I have never met. Our mutual ancestors, Johann Gottlob Ullmann and Augusta Louise Offerman Ullmann, owned a 200-acre farm in Connecticut, which the family sold to the state in 1912. The original Ullmann house is still standing and it is this old homestead that has brought the Ullmann "cousins" together. The Barkhamsted Historical Society wishes to renovate the building to use for their meeting place. Suddenly, I am receiving phone calls and e-mails from all of the descendants of Johann and Augusta. There is an excitement among the cousins to find out as much as possible about the Ullmann and Offerman family lines. They are sharing the same sweet "Spirit of Elijah" that we have known for years.
And now I understand what the Lord meant when He said He chooses one of a city and two of a family. He isn't referring to missionary work for the living only. I am also encouraged to know that He will open doors to help us and He doesn't expect this to be a lonely experience. He wants us to know our cousins. Perhaps someday we will be able to welcome them into His kingdom.
Elaine C. Harvey, Frederick, Md.
"Living by the Scriptures" is another in a series of Church News reader response articles. Was there a time when a particular scripture touched you, when it offered comfort, guidance and much-needed support? If so, please describe your experience in 250-300 words, giving the scripture reference and telling how it affected you. Send your submission to Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Fax No. (801) 237-2524. Internet E-mail: