'Doors will be opened'
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I was given a letter about 10 years ago containing my family tree. I took little interest in it, but in 1989 my wife Kathleen and I decided to set every second family home evening aside for family history work. From this letter we were able to trace our line back to 1560.
In July 1990, my wife was recuperating in Harare from a tonsilectomy, and she took the opportunity of screening the Church's International Genealogical Index for more information.We found with much excitement that the work for Henri Jacob Van Lelieveld and his family had been done in 1972-73. It was submitted by Frost Mitchell who lived in Spanish Fork, Utah.
We wrote to him but had no response and were disappointed because we had planned an American holiday for February 1991.
We had promised Elder and Sister Rex Ottley in 1984 on our wedding day that we would come to America and visit them. They were the couple who taught Kathleen the missionary lessons before she was baptized.
It was while we were with the Ottleys in St. George, Utah, that we had a most wonderful experience.
In a clubhouse laundry room, Sister Ottley introduced Kathleen to some women as being from Zimbabwe in Africa. One of them, LaRae Ogden, said, "Oh, my ancestors came from Transvaal, South Africa."
Kathleen said, "Zimbabwe is just north of South Africa, but what were their names?"
LaRae then said the name of my second great-grandmother, Christiana Gertruyda Cornelia Clignet Frost Mitchell. At this point, Kathleen became emotional.
"You are my husband's family," she exclaimed. She went to collect the copy of the marriage entry Frost Mitchell had submitted.
When LaRae saw this copy, she explained, "He is my mother's cousin, but is dead."
No wonder we had received no reply from him three months earlier.
This experience has strengthened our testimonies.
We know that doors will be opened as we strive to find our ancestors and other family members. - Andres Van Heerden, Kwekwe Branch, Zimbabwe Harare Mission
(Another in a series of "Family History Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)