Our daughter Sara served a mission in Sweden. While in the town of Gavle, in the summer of 1996, she and her companion became acquainted with Hakan Wall, who is particularly dedicated to family history, due in part to the influence of his late grandmother. He had been saving for a trip to Utah, where he planned further research.
As Gavle Branch mission leader, Brother Wall on one occasion offered to drive the sisters to an appointment. He was waiting a few minutes for them to be ready, and our daughter offered to let him read a copy of her ward newsletter from back home with the remark that it might help him review his English for his trip.
As Brother Wall browsed the newsletter, he came across the very Swedish name of Sjostrand. Our daughter told him that Dan and Mary Jane Sjostrand had been in the ward for a few years and that they had been converts to the Church early in their marriage, the only Latter-day Saints in either of their extended families. Brother Wall wished to find out more about their family history, as there was a Sjostrand line in his own family. Sara gave him our home-office fax number.
I was surprised to receive a fax from Brother Wall in Sweden, asking me to contact Brother Sjostrand for information. Brother Sjostrand was a bit apologetic, saying he had very few names from that Swedish line. He shared four names and a few dates, which I faxed back to Brother Wall.
Six days later, I received another fax from Sweden, a lengthy one. Brother Wall had discovered that his great-great-grandfather and Brother Sjostrand's grandfather were brothers! He shared much information with Brother Sjostrand via our fax machine, and we all felt like we were participating in a miracle. Plans were made for Brother Wall to come to Boise, Idaho, when in the United States.
He spent most of his time in Idaho with the Sjostrands. In the process of preparing information for his newfound cousin he discovered that temple work he thought had been completed on the Sjostrand line had not yet been done. Plans were made for continued research and temple work. Before he left, Brother Wall commented, "Surely my grandma is dancing for joy in heaven." — Eileen Blacker Petersen, Boise (Idaho) 18th Ward.
Illustration by Alex Nabaum.