Help from the Other Side

“Help from the Other Side,” Ensign, Feb. 2002, 71

Help from the Other Side

One day in 1903, my grandfather Conrad Trost stopped to listen to two Latter-day Saint missionaries preach the gospel on an Australian street corner. He joined the Church, and since that time there have been many active members in my family. Out of gratitude for what Grandfather Trost did for us, I had a burning desire to seek after his ancestors so that the temple work might be done for them.

Before my mother died, I asked her several times, “Mum, when you return home to the other side, will you tell your family we need help down here to do their work?” A few months after she passed away, several interesting events opened the Trost line to temple work.

In January 1988, my cousin Elva (whose maiden name is Trost) and her husband, Bruce Mitchell, went to Germany on business. My great-grandfather Justus David Trost had come to Australia in 1863 from the German village of Frankenberg, and Elva said that during their trip they would go to the village to find out what they could about the family line. Though we already had some information, our research had seemed to come up against a closed door. I prayed that a door of opportunity would open for Elva and Bruce.

Upon reaching the village they checked the phone book, and there were several Trosts, but because neither Elva nor Bruce spoke German, they decided to visit the families in person.

Searching out addresses in the little village, they became lost. When Bruce stopped the car to ask for directions, Elva happened to look up at an old nearby hotel with a sign that read “Trost Proprietor.”

Elva and Bruce used gestures to help them communicate with a woman at the front desk. Becoming excited, she called to a man and spoke to him, and in due course he beckoned Elva and Bruce to follow him down an old cobblestone street to a little house. A woman named Elizabeth, who spoke broken English, invited them in.

Elizabeth’s maiden name was also Trost, and she produced for Elva and Bruce the Trost family history dating back to 1587. She told them of an American family who were members of the Church and who had visited several years before also searching for their Trost ancestors. A door had opened wide on my family history.

I began corresponding with both Elizabeth and that American branch of the Trost family. The Americans were as delighted to know about their Australian relatives as I was to discover them. Elizabeth was a great help searching out other family records in old churches in Germany.

I marvel to think how so many “coincidences” could happen at just the right time, and I have come to believe that we had help from the other side of the veil. This trip brought my family history to a place where we could submit centuries of our family generations to the temple so that our ancestors could receive their own ordinances, changing the lives of many Saints, living and dead.

Illustrated by Brian Call