Elder Uchtdorf meets with German president

BERLIN — Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Presidency of the Seventy met with German President Johannes Rau prior to Christmas to honor a commitment made by the First Presidency last February during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Meeting in the Palace Bellevue, governmental seat of the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Elder Uchtdorf presented a three-volume history of President Rau's family, and also his wife's family.

"President Rau is a religious man," Elder Uchtdorf said, who was accompanied by his wife, Harriett, and Elder Holger Rakow, Area Authority Seventy. "He has teenage children and values family. He believes the majority of people are looking for successful marriages with happy, secure families."

The commitment to perform genealogical research came last year during the 2002 Winter Olympics when President Rau and his wife, Christina, met with President Gordon B. Hinckley and the First Presidency. After learning of President Rau's interest in family history, a promise was made to research his family history.

Missionaries serving in the Family History library researched family lines and found 400 names in President Rau's ancestry, and another 800 names in his wife's family.

Elder Uchtdorf and his wife, who hosted President Rau at various events including a Tabernacle Choir broadcast during the Olympics, presented the findings in a private meeting Dec. 18 on behalf of the area presidency.

"It was a politically busy day when an important ruling was announced by the German courts," Elder Uchtdorf said. "Because of the announcement, we expected a short visit. But it did not deter President Rau. We spent half an hour with him.

"He thumbed through the pages examining names," Elder Uchtdorf said. "He was impressed that original copies of birth and death and marriage certificates were included in the old German handwriting, along with a more easily read copy in modern German."

Since Christmas, Elder Uchtdorf has received a lengthy letter from President Rau expressing his gratitude. He told how he spent time during the holidays reviewing the material.

President Rau told how he passes one of the Church's meetinghouses in Berlin on his way to the palace each morning and expressed his pleasure in the beauty of the building.

"The joy and gratitude of receiving these volumes were immense," he said. "Many generations [in our families] are grateful for the effort of your Church. I discovered many new things."