Andra’s in Virginia

Since I seem to write so much about ancestral lines and their stories, I like to pay homage to the living from time to time.  Here are a few photos from Thanksgiving 2007 when my Great Uncle and Aunt Andra came to visit.

Donald is the brother to my maternal grandmother, Colleen Andra (1928 – 1999).  I have written of her elsewhere, rather than a link, you can search for it here on the blog.

Donald and Lolane were called to serve a mission in the Washington D.C. Temple for 18 months.  We visited them many times in Kensington, Montgomery, Maryland.  After Thanksgiving Dinner with them in the Rock Creek Ward building, they were finally able to take some time off, drive down to Richmond, Henrico, Virginia, and spend some time with us.  I have written about their visit at the time, but wanted to include a picture.  We visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (the picture above was in one of their buildings).  We also visited Monticello, Shirley Plantation, and various sites around Richmond, Virginia.  We very much enjoyed their time with us and look forward to when we can spend more time with them in the future.

One of the highlights of the visit for all of us was having lunch with Sister Angela Andra and her companion.  It was a unique experience for me to sit at lunch with three full-time missionaries, all cousins with the last name of Andra.  Angela is the granddaughter of Don’s (and my Grandma’s) brother, William (Bill) Fredrick Andra (Jr).  Here is a picture of that occasion after lunch in Chesterfield, Chesterfield, Virginia.

I will wrap up with a picture of the breathtakingly beautiful Washington D.C. Temple.  I wholeheartedly understand and agree with the reasons why the church has moved to the smaller temples for ease of access and utility.  However, something about the size and grandeur of the big temples still strikes more awe of God into my hard heart.

My Blood Lineage

Walking and visiting with a professor today, she asked the name of my daughter.  I indicated it was Aliza and she stated, “A good English name.  You definitely look English, is it a family name?”  We chatted a little longer before we separated, but it left me thinking, “Exactly what are my proportions of nationality?”  Well, here they are.  Even though I had always thought I was more German, I was wrong.  I am more British.

Looking back 6 generations, I took each ancestor and assigned them 1/32 of my blood line (obviously).  I then assigned them the nation to which their ancestors came from.  Most of this generation were still in their native country so it was easy.  My “US” line is only those designated that I do not definitively know which mother country they came from because they are so long in Virginia (at least to 1780).  I debated about whether to lump the Saxon, Prussian, and Wuerttemberg lines because I am not lumping the Ireland, Wales, and English lines.  I have provided a separate indication of my “German” and “British” lines.

3/16 – England – Sharp, Bailey, Stoker, Eames, Coley, Rogers

1/8 – Netherlands – Van Leeuwen, Weenig, Janzen, Van der Meij

1/8 – Saxony – Schneider, Andra, Knauke, Richter

1/8 – Wuerttemberg – Wanner, Schmid, Nuffer, Greiner

1/8 – US – Meredith, Shepherd, Graham and Miles lines

1/16 – Ireland – Donaldson, Todd

1/16 – Norway – Christiansen, Jorgensen

1/16 – Prussia – Jonas, Schumacher

1/16 – Sweden – Nelson (Nilsson), Benson (Bengtsson)

1/16 – Wales – Williams, Jordan

All together

5/16 – British

5/16 – German

I am willing to bet all 4 of my US lines were Wales and England.  Therefore, 7/16 would be British.  This is the largest percentage of them all, almost 50% of me is British!  Maybe that is why I served a British mission (although none of my family came from within my mission).

2008 in Review

This morning while everyone sleeps, I thought I would give a quick year in review.  Wow, what a year.  Probably the best year of my life.  I hope I can continue to say that every year!

One year ago, it was the first day of being laid off in my life.  Good ole Bank of America laid off the entire Wholesale Division.  My life as a underwriter came to an end as the mortgage industry was obviously in signs of trouble.  I decided to leave the entire industry.  Boy, am I glad I did!  1 January 2008 brought a month of trying, scrambling to find out what to do.  I had severance for a year and my job working professionally as a genealogist.  That carried us through.  I have been doing genealogy for the same family over the Christmas Break to supplement our income.  That is certainly a great blessing.  I know it is a blessing to their family and those who have gone on before as well.  I have probably added more than 2 or 3 generations on each of their family lines.

The first week or two of January I received an offer for employment in Pasco, Washington covering the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for Inlande Environmental Resources.  I would be making more than 10K more, have my own vehicle, card, and a whole lot more.  The only downside is I would be in Idaho most of the time while Amanda would remain in Virginia to finish her education.  We decided it was a great offer, much better than our options in Virginia, and could help open doors for the future.  The end of January, Brad Hales flew out, and we made a cross country trek in my pickup.  Brad has always been a very generous, kind friend.  Who would have thought a mission to England would have such long lasting repercussions?

February through June found me working for IER working with existing customers and making new sales.  The only big contract I found was with J.B. Swift in Hyrum, Utah.  It was 2 or 3 truckloads a month at present.  They were having so many problems with Thatcher Chemical that it was a fairly easy sell.  Honestly, I was just at the right place at the right time.  I really don’t think I personally did anything that really made the sale but it made me a favorite with the bosses.  We opened quite a few doors.  The big thing I enjoyed was the travel.  Salem, Portland, The Dalles, Weston, Pendleton, Gresham, and more in Oregon.  Toppenish, Yakima, Zillah, Sunnyside, Grandview, Pasco, Kennewick, Wenatchee, and Colfax Washington.  Wenatchee was another example of just being in the right place at the right time.  We were solving a foaming problem with apple concentrate waste.  We just had the right chemical but became known as the defoaming expert!  I also traveled all over Utah, Vernal being the most exotic visit.  I sure enjoyed Inlande Environmental.  They were really good to me and I enjoyed working for them.

May rolled around and I decided to accept an opening at Oklahoma City University for Law School.  I announced it to my bosses and they were more than accepting.  They knew when they interviewed me for the job I was seriously considering law school.  They were so good to me!  In fact, they let me keep my salary through to August while Amanda and I took our trip to Europe and here to Oklahoma City.  Amanda also graduated in May.  Amanda’s parents and I flew out for the big occasion.  We sure had quite a bit of fun!  During the time there we packed everything to move all our stuff to Oklahoma City.  We did a little sight-seeing as well.  Monticello was probably my favorite place to visit and I was fortunate everyone else wanted to go as well.  In the end, I flew back to work in Idaho and Amanda with the in-laws drove to Oklahoma City in a moving truck, and from there to Kaysville in the car.

A big first for the year.  We purchased our first home!  A quaint little 30’s home near 23rd Street NW in Oklahoma City.  A wonderful little home with plenty of things to keep me busy but still liveable.

June rolled around and then Amanda and I went on our very expensive weight loss program.  I can boast losing about 20 pounds running around Europe.  We spent six weeks in Europe.  Many, many firsts for both of us.  We visited friends in Belgium and they were very kind to treat us.  Primarily, it was perfect for getting over jet lag!  We then went crazy in traveling for the next 6 weeks.  About 4 days in Belgium.  We attended a Stake Conference in Antwerp and attended dedicatory prayers in Dutch.  That prepared us for Brugge, and where we spent our next few days in Amsterdam.  We saw the sights and even made a trip to Den Haag.  Off we shot across The Netherlands, across Germany to Berlin, and down to an ancestral home in Dresden.  I still think Dresden was probably my favorite place.  Even better than Vianden or the rest of Luxembourg.  Dresden is also near to Meissen which was another ancestral home.  I would love to spend a week in Dresden.  We shot across Germany through Leipzig down to Augsburg.  There we were based to hit Munchen, Dachau, and Fussen for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.  Then we headed off to visit Stuttgart with Neuffen and Holzgerlingen (ancestral towns) before heading to Salzburg.  Salzburg was definitely another favorite.  Gorgeous town.  Then off to sweltering Venice via Innsbruck.  There we spent time in a very different culture and climate in a city on the water with no water to drink!  After Venice, up through Padua to Zurich and down to Bern.  Bern was definitely another favorite.  I really wish we could have spent some good quality time there.  Then off through Lausanne and Geneva for a few wonderful, long, unorganized days in Paris.  If there was ever a point Amanda and I were getting tired it was in Paris.  More with each other than with the city.  But we really enjoyed Paris nevertheless.  If we had been stuck in Amsterdam during this time, we may have been in marital breakdown, but Paris made it bearable.  After Paris, we headed back to Belgium for a day or two before flying off to Prestwick, Scotland.

We then were in a car for the next 3 weeks!  That day we made our way through Glasgow before ending in Edinburgh for some wonderful times there.  We really liked that city.  I could certainly feel we were back in the United Kingdom.  There is a flavor in the air that reeks of Britain.  From there we worked our way down through Manchester, Liverpool, Northern Wales, Birmingham, Bath, Dorset, and finally to London.  In the UK we spent two weeks of it in the old stomping grounds of the England Manchester Mission.  We visited loads of people I knew and tried to balance that with seeing the sites for Amanda.  I think we did a good job.  We also caught up with some long time friends, the Gores and the Byroms.  We also met up with my old missionary companion Elder Gheorghe Simion and his wife who now live in Liverpool.  After the mission we visited ancestral homes near Birmingham, even stumbling on a cemetery in Halesowen with plenty of ‘my’ Coley line.  It was fun.  Bath was quite a bit of fun crashing that night with a cousin in Milton Abbas, a gorgous little Dorset town.  They treated us very, very well.  Then off to London crashing with the Jeppesen’s in Weybridge.  We spent our remaining time with them in their posh house until we flew out.  All in all, we loved our entire trip.  Paris could have used a bit more planning, but the trip as a whole was utterly marvelous.  We feel very, very blessed to have been able to take the trip.

We landed in Utah and the gears started grinding in different ways.  I tried to make sure everything was a successful transition for IER and we headed out for Oklahoma City.  We arrived here the very last week of July.  Before August had arrived we had moved all our possessions into the home and started setting up for the next few years.  I went to work on the yard, Amanda went to work on the inside.  We came to know our ward, get lined up for school, Amanda a dental hygiene license, and job.  Everything fell into place within a month.  I was rolling with law school and Amanda had a job blocks from home.

The rest of the year was fairly uneventful.  I sat trying to recoup some of my weight lost in Europe (I have been unsuccessful, not that I really want it back) in the law school library.  I picked up squash here again.  Amanda works her days away.  I am slowly remodeling a bathroom with all that extra time.  Amanda took up sewing our Halloween costumes and organizing Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then the year was over!

All in all, what a year!  I feel highly blessed of heaven.  Who could ask for anything more?  We have started paying off student loans for Amanda.  We are also paying for some work done on the house and what little remains of our trip to Europe.  We paid off the washer and dryer, now the refrigerator next.  Then we can start socking it away for retirement (since our retirement took quite a hit in October and since!).  Plus there will be plenty more to do to the house if we should really want to invest.  But all in all, God has been very good to us.  May he continue to light our paths and may we continue to do what is needed to bring down the extra blessings!  I am looking forward to 2009, although I think it will be much less eventful than 2008.  But hey, who knows?

Milton Abbas, England

We have arrived in Weybridge, England. We are staying with a family we knew in Richmond, Virginia; the Jeppesen family. Weybridge is not far from London and this will be our home grounds while we are visiting the London area. We certainly appreciate their hospitality. 

Today we have been busy. We spent the morning with the Wise family and saying our farewell. They really spoiled us while we were there. A full English dinner last night. I will tell you what! What a treat!

Yesterday we visited Longleat, which is a living manor house. Quite the treat. It has been there since Elizabethan times. They even have the shirt Charles II was executed in. That was interesting. The Lord of Bath lives there at present.

We made a trip to Poole and Bournemouth, both of which were interesting. We would have spent more time but Amanda left her purse at a McDonald’s which required backtracking some. It was luckily turned in and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Later in the evening Jennie took Amanda down to Weymouth and Portland while Cynthia and I went through family history. We are definitely cousins through Edward Harris and his wife. We are very likely related through my Willetts line, but we were not able to show the connection. She doesn’t have her line far enough back to connect to where I have individuals. But by all accounts, the families definitely link, making us double cousins!

Today was much more of a Jane Austen day. We visited Winchester Cathedral where she is buried. But it has a fascinating history all its own. It was falling down and it required divers to correct the foundations. How is that for interesting? We also visited the Jane Austen home in Chawton where she lived for many years.

We now find ourselves in Weybridge for the next few days. The London Temple is of course closed while we are here. But we are looking at visiting London while we are here.

A report of a few thoughts

I am not really sure what to write.  My life feels like there is so much going on at the moment I would not know where to start.  I feel like singing a little Johnny Cash and “I’ve been everywhere.”
So more a couple of thoughts on a variety of issues.
I am learning more and more there is only so much some people can be helped.  I have a friend, Kevin, who says he cannot find a job.  I have now given him over 4 different job opportunities and he isn’t willing to do much.  Granted, it might not be the perfect fit, but why not jump in until you find something better.  I guess there is always the benefit of sitting and home and hanging out with the family.  The money doesn’t run forever (at least, for most of us).  I thought he was interested enough in a job that I set up an interview with the two individuals doing the hiring.  He went and brought his wife along for the interview.  Why not bring your mother too?  How far should one go in trying to reach out and provide opportunities to another?
There is another friend, Dustin, who has been tending a car for me for several years now.  He offered and I was happy to have his help while I was away to Virginia, Missouri, and all my other travels.  I went over to take a look today and it broke my heart how terrible of condition it is in.  I know it is free, I appreciate the watchful eye, but I think I may have done better leaving it sitting in my own backward.  Then it would have been more friendly dirt, less rusty water, and mice who belong to the family.  I don’t know if the neglect is what really bothers me but rather the questions I posed of whether or not everything was okay.  Did I need to pay him for some upkeep, did I need to help with expenses.  The answer was always the same, “Nope, everything is taken care of.”
I was visiting with my boss, Doug Kelley, the past few days about the Catholic Religion.  Particularly with the Pope’s visit to the United States and his news noted attempt to try and bring the US Catholic portion in line.  My boss, a self proclaimed “Roman Catholic with a little R” said the real issues he has with Pope Benedict is his apparent desire to undo Vatican II.  Primarily the fact that with Vatican II the church was less authoritarian and the congregations could really take on responsibility and serve on another.  It is always the Father out doing all the good while everyone sat around.  Now the Pope is diverting the church back to the authoritarian mode and he is very frustrated.  My first thought is he should definitely take a look at the LDS.  If he wants a congregation that serves on another, I don’t know of a better church.  We talked some about Mormonism and I even gave him a Book of Mormon.  He was thrilled and said he would read it soon.  I very much hope he does.  The sooner the better.  I won’t be around him for years to finally discuss and talk about it when he does read it.
I have been accepted to Oklahoma City University Law School.  I really like this option.  It takes me back to the center of the country, I get to live in another area I never lived, and in some cases another culture.  We are still waiting to hear from some other law schools for which I may be interested.  There certainly is no rhyme or reason to why schools accept or reject applicants.  I have acceptance to schools better than others that rejected me according to some ranking systems.  We shall wait and see.
In sitting down one morning to breakfast with Marie Lundgreen, she asked me what I thought about the relationship with her and the sister.  This Sister seems to have a relationship which may be similar in many ways with my own full sister.  The giving of great opportunities are not only rejected, they are turned back on you in a negative way as trying to interfere in their life.  Where credit or help is given, not only are they taken, but no recognition or appreciation is given.  In one case with my own sister, my willing to help her out cost me a vehicle and several thousands of dollars.  What is one to do?  Marie and her sister, over a period more than double my sister and me, has been more extreme.  In some instances the help offered cost thousands of dollars, and then it was all rejected part and parcel.  Even after acceptance was agreed upon and all the effort expended, then the gift rejected.  What is one to do?  How much should we extend ourselves to help those, especially family, where it seems to do more harm than good?  Nobody likes to be taken advantage of in any way.  I do think I am magnanimous, but is there a point where you should take your efforts elsewhere?  What happens when you know later the sister is being kind and nice just to get something more?  Forgive but not give the gift?  Is that possible?
Dad and Jan have been called to serve for two years in the Twin Falls Temple when it opens.  This is an exciting opportunity.  It will be a calling close to home, the privilege of officiating in the House of God, and the spiritual blessings that only come from the Temple.  I hope and pray the couple days a week they serve will not cost him his job.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  We are all in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest.  Dad and Jan have been called and they will give their all to serving.  As anyone does so, everything always works out.  We don’t know how, it just does.  The same has been very evident in my life.
I had dinner with Kevin and Jean Gore from Walkden, Lancashire, England.  What a joy it was to meet up with friends from within the England Manchester Mission.  Just like the sons of Alma after meeting up after all those years, nothing has really changed in the relationship.  Why, because we all live the gospel.  As we keep our hearts in tune with the Savior, we cannot help but find ourselves in tune with others who are seeking to do the same.  We enjoyed a great meal and discussed a wide variety of topics.  I thank God for how kind and generous he has been in my life.  There are so many great and noble people I have the privilege of association.
Work continues very well.  There are some things in the pipeline which will do great things in expanding the production of Magnesium Hydroxide at the Paul Plant.  It is just a matter of getting everything lined out and ready to go.  There are a host of equipment opportunities and I am sure there are many more.  We have met with a couple of engineering firms lately all of who are interested in our equipment and services.  There are some tremendous opportunities.  I hope we can get them on line before I possibly leave for law school.
I know this post has been a bit more negative.  I just needed to vent I think and relieve the concerns I have.  The future is so unknown, you try to help others out and they don’t want the help (such a fine line between meddling and genuine service), and the desire to anxiously engaged.  What comes next?

Redeeming presses forward, even today!

In the Spirit of the Fast, with it being Fast and Testimony day, I thought I would do the same online with regards to my latest manifestation.
Here are two quotes with relation to family history work.  Particularly, after you have done your homework and gone to the limit of your capacity, the door will be opened and a little more revealed.  Sometimes, the floods even fall into your lap.
“It is your duty now to rise up, all of you, and trace your genealogies, and begin to exercise the powers which belong to saviors of men, and when you do this in earnest, you will begin to comprehend how widespread, how numerous your ancestors are for whom Temple work has to be performed, in order that they may be brought into the fold; and when you get stopped, the Lord will reveal further information to you;” (George Q Cannon, JD 22:130)

“That same God who has ordained baptism for the dead, and who has commanded the believers in this generation to be baptized for them, will in due time, when we have done all we can in searching out our genealogies, reveal to us the chain so that we shall find our fathers, no matter how many generations…(Orson Pratt, JD 16:300)

While in Virginia, I spent a considerable amount of time in the Family History Library.  I taught my classes there, helped people do research, and spent many, many days pouring through books for familiar names and information.  Often I would borrow a book from the library for the week and through the week go through the entire book pulling out information on possible relatives.  In doing so, I really opened up a number of families for which I found nothing on the internet or anywhere else.
However, in doing so, I ended up with a whole host of what I call floaters.  Those individuals who I was pretty sure linked into the families I already had in the file, but I had no real information to tie them in.  For example, going through a marriage registry book gives only the names of the couple, and typically the father of the bride who gave bond.  I had a whole host of couple’s floating.  In about a dozen couples, the bride’s father’s name was Joseph Martin.  I had more than 30 Joseph Martin’s in my file and to try and link them to one was nearly impossible without more help.
Since I knew my time was limited in Virginia and the resources of the library, I would often take any individual with a relative’s name.  For example, every Graham, Martin, Meredith, and other families I ran across their information went into my file.  While this was highly successful with the Meredith line in tying the families together, it was much less so with the Martin’s due to their sheer number.  Martinsville, Virginia, obviously founded by Martin’s has at least 3 major Martin families who in all branch throughout Virginia and North Carolina.
Just this past month I was wondering how in the world I was going to connect these floaters in my file.  It just happened to be that I received a couple of e-mails that led to my receiving a packet in the mail.  The history report for an 8th grader on Revolutionary Soldier and founder of Martinsville, Joseph Martin.  Who would have ever known an 8th grader would write such a concise and researched document.  I tied my 30+ Joseph Martin’s together in such a way that I am down to 10!  All of those floaters whose father’s name was Joseph Martin are gone.  In my mind, it is a miracle.
The mere fact that information which so perfectly fit my scenario is in my hands is the work of the Lord.  As I connected link after link, that is what was running through my mind.  “This is the hand of the Lord which has brought this to pass.”
Surely, the hand of the Lord is over this work.  This I surely know, and only witnessed to again through this manifestation.  There are an endless host of such experiences.  If it were not for the Spirit witnessing this fact to me, just the mere coincidence of so many genealogical research puzzle pieces coming together in my life is near impossible.
I know the work is alive and vibrant.  It all depends on how much we wish to be engaged in it.  The more engaged, the greater the blessings for us and those who we also serve.  It is an endless circle.

Stiffnecked

Today I sent my wife back across the country.  Seems a bit out of odds that I am sending off my wife for another month or so.  It seems more like she should be sending me away.  A mission?  Military?  Work travel?  I could not help but think of Engelbert Humperdink’s, “There Goes My Everything” as we said adios again.  As President Stucki would say, “There is no such thing as a good bye in the gospel.”  I believe it is true.  No matter what happens, we will meet up again.

I find myself even further from her now.  I am now in The Dalles, Oregon.  She is in Richmond, Virginia.  That puts us about 2,800 miles of separation in one day.  Don’t we live in a day of miracles?  I can visit with her without any more cost than my cell phone plan.  I spoke to her in Detroit, Minneapolis, Richmond, and a host of other places in the past month.  I am always impressed when I send out a dozen letters in one day all to different regions on the United States, or even the world, and know they will arrive there.  Most of them within 2 or 3 days.  That is a miracle to me.  As I type this up, on a free internet signal, in a hotel room, my computer connects to the internet and will make it available worldwide within seconds of my pressing the send button.  Every person in the world could read it if they wanted.  That is a miracle.

If you cannot tell, I have thought about miracles today.  I listened to some of Harold B Lee’s stories about miracles.  I thought about the miracles in my own life.  I even wrote of the miracle of the Book of Mormon in a recent blog.  They are all about us.  Somehow though, I get so busy in my life not to recognize them.

This leads me to the scripture I have thought about from the recent reading of the Book of Mormon.  This is another one of those scriptures I memorized that summer but have not been able to retain.

“And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked.  And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.”  (Jarom 1:4)

Far too often, I think I fall on the side of the stiffnecked.  In fact, I know I do.  I am just proud enough to miss so many of the blessings which could be easily obtained.  In some instances, more recognized.

There are plenty of ways in which I still need to repent and rise above the natural man.  Without beating up on myself too much, I do completely recognize that I am just humble and faithful enough to have some personal revelations of my own.  I end up with one or two in each journal, but they are there.  Meaning, I know that the Lord speaks to even me in my weakness.  Even in my weakness, I am abundantly blessed and am just humble enough to see some of those blessings and miracles all about me.