Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finding Myself in England

Temple in Preston, England, home to the oldest still-extant Latter-day Saint unit, established circa 1840ish.

What do the pilgrims of Massachusetts and Dutch settlers of New York in the 1600s and the first English Latter-day Saint converts in the 1840s have in common?  Me!

I have had a life-long dream of doing genealogy work in Holland, where my Dutch ancestors originated.  Well, my husband and I are headed to The Netherlands in less than two weeks, and I have been doing the preparatory family history work which will enable me to poke around old church records and graveyards in Elburg, Holland for "Op den Dycks" near the "Zeider zee dycks."

As a little girl, I had focused "country reports" on Holland and been fascinated by Dutch Delft china, windmills, wooden shoes, and tulips.

Yet, after doing my genealogy, I know now that I should have been doing country reports on England, for it is here that my ancestors are largely from.  There is one Danish strain - the Lauritzens on my mother's side, but all others that I looked up either crossed the Atlantic as a Mormon convert (one even was born on a ship, and was named after it), or over two hundred years earlier to found a "civilized" society in Massachusetts.

I mentioned in an earlier post why Mormons search out their forefathers.  It has much to do with what we call "the spirit of Elijah," who is suppose to turn hearts of fathers to children, and children to fathers.  After getting to know my ancestors a bit, I know it is quite catching.  The names and dates began to take shape as people who were a real part of me.

In short, to use an overused, trite phrase, I found myself, in a manner of speaking.  And I was here, in England.  My ancestors spanned this little island, from Devon, Nottingham, York, Gloucestershire, and Essex.

After nearly two years of battling the ups and downs associated with living under a rock (i.e. the near-continual cloud cover) and not feeling quite at home amidst foreign customs, innuendos, and attempting to keep apace and ahead of the English wit, I began to feel like less of a stranger here.

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