The Missing Book
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“The Missing Book,” Ensign, Aug. 1988, 66

The Missing Book

It was a beautiful summer morning as my husband and I drove from our home in Frederiksberg, Denmark, to northern Germany, where my mother’s mother was born.

I got a lump in my throat when I saw the road sign that said “Ladelund.” Ever since joining the Church, I had had a burning desire to submit my grandmother’s name for temple work. Often I had received divine guidance in my genealogical research, and I was eagerly looking forward to helping my grandmother obtain the full blessings of the gospel.

In northern Germany, vital records often aren’t gathered together in a central archive, but are scattered about in various church parish houses. I had written to Ladelund to find out just where my grandmother’s records were located. Then I had telephoned the priest for an appointment to look at the books containing those records.

The priest’s secretary greeted us warmly. She went to the safe to get the book I had asked to see, then returned looking confused.

“The book you need was here yesterday,” she said, “but it is not here now.” Together we searched among the shelves of books, but we could not find it.

I was bitterly disappointed. I had done so much work. Why wasn’t Heavenly Father helping me now? I went to our car to wait for our next appointment several hours later. As I sat there, crying, the idea came to me to drive to the little town where my grandmother’s family had lived. Even though it had been more than a hundred years since the family had lived there, I wanted to see how it looked.

We arrived in the tiny town around noon. We could see no one about. As we drove past the nine or ten houses, I finally spotted an older woman washing the windows in her home.

We stopped, and I went to the door to see if she knew anything about my grandmother’s family. My heart skipped a beat as I read the nameplate on the front door: Carstensen, my grandmother’s family name!

The woman opened the door and in a beautiful Slesvig accent asked what I wanted. After I explained, she said, “Oh, so it’s Mother’s pedigree you want to see. I’ll get it.”

She left the room and returned to spread before me a pedigree showing a record of my relatives back to the 1600s. Beside the name of each married couple, with their dates of birth, marriage, and death, the pedigree listed all the children along with their place of birth and marriage. This one document gave me more information about my grandmother’s family than I could have obtained from the church records.

After I returned home to Denmark, I received a letter from the Ladelund church. The secretary enclosed the information from the missing book, explaining that it had been placed in the wrong cabinet by mistake.

Thanks to this “mistake,” I have found not just one, but more than a hundred names of my German family. The Lord had been helping me all along.

  • Anna Margrethe Krogh Thomsen, a kindergarten teacher, serves as genealogy adviser and librarian in the Copenhagen Denmark Stake.