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In 1997 I decided it was time for me to start working on some family history. I had my 4 generations, like the Church had asked us to. I knew that most of them had their ordinances completed. My great grandmother had come to Utah from Denmark, and had died when she was 26 in a small town there. The only thing I knew about her father was his name. As I contemplated starting some research finding out facts about him I felt that I should write the cemetery where his daughter, my great grandmother was buried. I dismissed that thought as very illogical, and didn’t do anything more about finding anything about him. Every few weeks I would have the similar thought, “Write the cemetery where his daughter is buried”. I did this for two years, and finally became so annoyed with this persisting reminder, that I finally got the address of the cemetery and wrote to them asking if they had any records about him.
To my amazement, both parents were buried beside her there in this little Utah cemetery. The records gave his birth date, his birth place, which was in Sweden, and the farm on which he was born. In the Scandinavian countries, it is best to know the farm name in order to get the required information. The name pool for most of those countries is very small, so it helps to identify them using the name of their farm on which they were born.
Even though I could not read Swedish, I ordered a film, obtained a language and writing guide, and was able to read a film from his area and obtain many names from there.
I live in Colonia Juarez, Chih, Mexico. When the small temples were announced, we were shocked and pleased to hear that we would have one of the first ones here in our small community. I proceeded to gather the names of my ancestors to do their work when it was completed in March of 1999. So as we worked on the temple grounds here, I also worked at home on names so that I would have many when the temple opened. I found a great many names, and printed the cards. After the temple was dedicated, I was thrilled to complete the work for these ancestors.
In December 1999, my house burned down, taking with it, all printed cards, all notes of the individuals, and all information that I had gathered. And since I had used many sources of information, I could not gather the same information to match the cards that I had printed. So some of the ordinances for the families had been completed and some of them had not.
Of course, I was dismayed at the thought that I could not complete the work on these families that I had begun. I knew that many couples and families were separated because of this unfortunate disaster. I agonized over it several years, wondering what to do. There was no way to find which cards had been burned and which had not.
After five years, the outgoing temple presidency was changed. The temple president cleaned out his office and desk to prepare for the incoming president. Shortly after the new temple president had been presiding, I received a call from the matron of the temple telling me that in the office drawer was one of these names from Sweden that had been completed. As we talked about my concerns not being able to find which ordinances had been completed and which ones had not, she said that they had just received a new program which showed each submission of names a patron had submitted. What an amazing revelation for me!
I was able to go to the temple with the temple matron, find what cards had been burned, reprint the cards, and join the families who had been waiting for hundreds of years for this work to be done. I was able to unite a great many people with their families because of the new program that allowed me to find and reprint the names I had submitted.
Yes, the Lord does mind the sparrow's fall.
Carol Ann Kirkham Hatch