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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Century or Centuries (02/17/11)

TITLE: Gift From Another Century
By Sheri King


The unexpected surprise began with a stranger's phone call. The woman calling from across the United States wanted me to know she had some old boxes full of our family's genealogy records. She had first called my mom, but mom, knowing one of her daughters is a student of history and lover of all things old, immediately referred the woman to me.

Needless to say, I was cautiously ecstatic. This stranger, who I will call "Jane", described the contents of the boxes in greater detail, with names and dates, and before long I knew she was indeed holding our family's heritage. Inside these treasure "chests" were a few hundred photos, diaries, passports, letters, books, and other mementoes, some of which were so old they were literally turning into dust.

Jane's daughter had found these boxes in an abandoned storage unit. Thankfully, the daughter didn't have the heart to throw the boxes away and showed them to her mother. Jane went through the boxes and realized the contents all led to a long-forgotten love story that had been buried with the past. As a self-proclaimed "romantic", she went on a mission to find the descendants of this couple.

Being the huge family that we are, she had an ocean of names to choose from when she "googled" us online. She chose my parents because my dad is named after the main character in this love story: "Ken".

I paid Jane to send us the boxes and they started arriving, one by one. They were a genealogist's winning lottery ticket and I was the winner. To give you an idea of just how unreal this was, you have to know what my hobbies were at this time in my life. My love for history began with a love for my family's history. As possibly the youngest genealogist of my time, I, in my early 30s, could be found right next to the sweet grandmas any given weekend at a family history center, researching my family's heritage. Right before these boxes came, I had just begun a search to learn, specifically, about my great grandfather, who had been a missionary in Bolivia. My great grandpa was named Ken and these boxes contained his life story, much of it in his own words.

As a young man, great grandpa had committed his life to Christ and was attending Biola University, known then as "The Bible Institute", to prepare for service as a missionary. It was during these years that he kept detailed diaries that reveal Ken's two great love affairs: a passionate love for his Lord and the love he had for "Pansy-girl".

He and Pansy were friends and co-workers at the city library for a few years before they ever dated. But in his first diary entry for the year 1917, he revealed his growing feelings : "This year finds me in love with Pansy Fitch." He wasn't shy about expressing that love in his diaries and many love letters to Pansy during their courtship.

Ken left for the mission field at the end of that year, but Pansy joined him in Bolivia in 1919 and they were married soon after. Their union produced 6 children. During those years, he spent time in prison for something he didn't do; once he was released, they served on the mission field together until his sudden death in 1935.

Of course, that's the short version of the story. The boxes contained enough details to write an exhaustive history on the man's life. While I don't feel qualified to be his biographer, I do plan on sharing great grandpa's story with my family in some written form, as I've already done of other grandparents.

Prophetically, Ken penned the following words in one of his diaries: "I dedicate this book and its contents to the Lord Jesus Christ and to whatever cause He leads me to use it for." He began his first diary in 1912. Who would have thought that God would use these diaries one whole century later, bringing great grandpa's story back to the surface for a new generation to hear? And who knew God to be so personal as to deliver this rare and personal gift to the great granddaughter on the west coast who loves to tell old stories? This experience definitely gave me a new story to tell...about my gift from another century.

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This article has been read 209 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jennifer Hill02/24/11
God works in amazing ways! I too love to hear and tell stories from my family's history. How wonderful a find you have! I'm sure you could pull his story into a wonderful Christian love story for others to read and be encouraged. (the love of God and your Great Grandmother)
Bonnie Bowden 02/24/11
I am glad you are going to record your findings for your whole family to enjoy. It really is a great gift.
diana kay02/26/11
aww this reminds me of the programme of "who do you think you are" where a person looks into their ancestors through books places and other records. very well told and i sensed the excitement in the discovery
Charla Diehl 03/02/11
What a thrill for you to be the recipient of this history. God had this all planned out just as it happened before you were a twinkle in your Dad's eye. I believe in miracles--not coincidence. Good job in the telling of this story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/03/11
Congratulations on ranking 9th in level 1!