Family history moments: Watching us
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While working on my family history, I had an experience that confirmed my belief that our ancestors are watching us as we perform the temple service that only we can do for them while in this earthly realm.
I developed a strong testimony of temple work since I joined the Church 32 years ago. When I mentioned to my father in Germany that we do genealogical work, he gave me a thick file of our family's genealogy he had compiled.
The information enabled me to do temple work for 33 of my ancestors, dating back to 1625. The information was mostly on my father's side, and there were many gaps on my mother's side. As all my family members are now residing in the spirit world, there was no one I could ask.
I remember always hearing my mother talking about her oldest brother "Maenne" and how she knew that he had been a German soldier fighting in France during World War I and that he was captured and died of pneumonia in a French prison camp in 1918. I knew that "Maenne" was a nickname but had no idea what his real first name was. Without it, I couldn't get very far in my effort to do the work for him.
One day, rummaging through files and envelopes I had gathered up after my father passed away, I found an envelope with the name "Kessel," my mother's maiden name. It was a veritable treasure-trove of information. Among pictures and documents, I found a handwritten letter by Maenne's sergeant written to my grandfather, informing him that his son, Hermann Kessel, had been captured by the French in 1918. Here was the answer I needed. The nickname Maenne stood for "Hermann." I did the work for him, knowing that he had been waiting for so many years for someone to do it.
After my wife and I returned from the Denver Colorado Temple where I performed Maenne's endowment, I walked back into my office at home and noticed a small leather wallet that was perched precariously on top of a filing cabinet.
When I opened the wallet, I saw that it was full of family photos. The very top photo showed a gravestone in a cemetery. The names on the stone were Hilde and Fritz Kessel. On the back of the picture, someone had written the birth and death dates of Fritz.
It was my uncle Fritz, my mother's other brother for whom I had no data until this moment. I remember him well. He was a very nice man, who often came to visit us while we lived in Hannover during World War II.
It gave me great pleasure to do the temple work for my uncle. I imagine that he and his brother Maenne must have had a little chat in the spirit world. He decided to get my attention. — Walter Maschmeyer, Longs Peak Ward, Longmont Colorado Stake