This is my adaptation of a story shared by reader Brian Palmer. Thanks, Brian! (See his original here.)
Jennifer Low volunteered to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church, not the volunteer, decides where the missionary will be sent. Nevertheless, missionaries have their hopes. It is an exciting moment when a young man or young woman opens the ordinary envelope from Salt Lake City that contains extraordinary news: how far from home they will move, what country they will live in, and what language they will speak for the next 18 to 24 months of their lives.
Jennifer’s grandfather fled Russia during the revolution. How exciting would it be to return to the land of her forefathers! While learning a new language is a tough challenge for many new missionaries, Jennifer had studied Russian throughout her high school and college years.
When Jennifer opened her envelope, she found she was headed to Argentina.
Jennifer packed her bags and went to Argentina as assigned. One day Jennifer and a fellow missionary (the Church’s missionaries serve in pairs) were going door-to-door, trying to find someone willing to hear their message. At one house they found an old man who didn’t respond to their Spanish. They tried English, but again received no response. Jennifer, however, spoke another language.
The man was delighted to discover she spoke Russian and invited them in to visit. It was not long before they made a remarkable discovery: the man and Jennifer’s grandfather were brothers.
The two had been separated when they fled Russia and were never able to find one another. Reunification brought great joy to both families. And it brought genealogical records, including the family Bible. The man allowed Jennifer to copy it all.
That’s what we call, serendipity in genealogy.
Image credit: Adaptation of MathKnight, “A Gateway to the World: Globes art presentation in Rotschild Boulevards in Tel Aviv during September-October 2007,” photograph, Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TelAviv2007Globes_%2825%29.JPG : accessed 28 May 2016). Used under license.