1 Nov 2011, while a BYU-Idaho student - This morning I had a genealogy miracle. I knew that I had a lot to do for the college courses I was taking in this my last semester, but I also knew that my ancestors wanted to be found. I felt impressed to go to the Family History Center on campus. About a week ago I ordered a microfilm of a German Kirchenbuch (Church Book/Register) for Heuchelheim, Germany on which I knew the Amendt* family would appear. When I got to the center I put the microfilm on the reader and began to look through the German script from the early 1800s. Even after taking a class in German genealogy research, reading the film was difficult. Miracles often come through the people around us and that morning, a family history missionary with a specialty in German research--Sister Hart--was helping run the center. She helped me find the baptism record of my 3rd-great grandfather Philipp Amend (known as John Philip Ament after his emigration). This kind sister missionary even served part of an earlier mission near the area where these ancestors of mine were from. Running low on time, and trying to be as appreciative as possible, I asked her if she might create a transcript and translation for me. I needed to go to class.
The sister missionary kindly helped me read the record and even did a partial transcription and translation which I picked up about a week later. She went above and beyond by finding--on FamilySearch.org--two of my 3rd-great grandfather's siblings whose names my family was missing. They died young and when John Philip emigrated, over time the family's memory of those children was lost. I spent some more time going through the microfilm on my own with the aid of the transcription Sister Hart provided. I copied the originals of those two siblings' baptisms and several more records--including marriages and deaths--on 2 or 3 visits over the next couple weeks.
Throughout the experience I called my parents to explain what I was finding. With the encouragement of my mother, when I got what I could from the years covered by that microfilm, I ordered the next film. My parents were coming to my graduation the weekend of the 16-17th of December and offered to help look through the records when they arrived. After ordering the film I got a notice that it was on backorder and was concerned that we might not get to look at it before I had to move out on the 17th. Friday the 16th my parents and I showed up at the family history center to ask if it came in. I had not received the customary e-mail notification because the data entry missionary had not been in recently. The missionaries who were there looked through the unprocessed films and found that which I had ordered. I showed my parents how to recognize the records and they went on to copy several more protestant church records for our Amendt ancestors.
The right person happened to be there at the right time to help me on November 1st, I found many original records and some previously missing family members, improved my German research skills through practice, and enjoyed some family time looking through the film which barely arrived in time for us to review before I moved out the next day. These small and simple things witness the hand of the Lord in helping us learn about our heritage and finding our connection to the eternal family.
NOTE: This post explains part of the events which helped me know which microfilm I needed to order. With so much on my plate, it took me a couple months before I decided to order the film.
*Amendt surname also spelled as Amend or Ament.