Friday, August 1, 2008
Genealogy has become a very popular hobby for many people in recent years. In much the same way that many of us wonder about where we came from in a spiritual sense...we also have an underlying need to know Who we come from with regard to our earthly family. This need for a family bond was illustrated in a recent study of foster children who were allowed to build a relationship with their rehabilitated parents. The result in a majority of cases was that the children blossomed as a result of having contact with blood relatives and that their behavioral problems diminished or completely disappeared. The affect of feeling connected to a family of your own cannot be denied--even less than perfect families!
If you dig around in family history, you will most likely find that most families are far from perfect. In my family history, there has been divorce, abuse, children who have died...but there has also been wonderful inspirational stories that make me proud to be a part of my family. There is the story of my GGGG-grandfather whose brother saved his life. My GGGG-GF fell ill while on a military march. Every evening his brother marched the full distance back to pick up him up and carry him back to camp. What brotherly love! What a Christ-like act. Later in life, this same brother who saved his life shot my GGGG-grandfather's eye out (accidentally) while they were trying to exterminate a skunk. Oh, you silly brothers...
I began my own journey into family history by asking my family to tell me stories (which my parents were quite good about doing!) about relatives I never knew. I have also done some searching of my own, including looking up the name of my Mother's family in the phone book and knocking on doors and saying to perfect strangers, "Hi, I'm Jocelyn...and I think that we are related." This has lead to many interesting stories and new relationships.
Part of the search for my Czekala family has lead me to Poland. I am happy to say that a good friend who I used to work with at CNN is going to Poland on a work assignment tomorrow. He has agreed to do some searching for my great-great grandmother Julianne Mamaj/Mamajek. I have been so curious about her, but haven't been able to get anywhere in my search for her for a long time now. I am praying that my friend David will have some luck during his trip...Divine intervention will be necessary, I'm sure, especially since David does not speak Polish! I don't know what I hope to know about her, but I just feel a need to know her...to feel more connected to who she was and what her life was like. In part, this yearning to know my ancestors is surely what is meant by the scripture in Malachi that says, "he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."
If you are interested in starting to search for your ancestors, here are some good research tools to help you get started:
Your Family History: Getting Started
The Phenomenon That Is You
Database Hit 150 Million Names