Family History Moment: A Miracle in Denmark
Contributed By Frances Gardner Watkins, Church News contributor
- God can guide our footsteps to where we need to be.
“I know there was divine intervention the day we were let off that bus. … I am so grateful … for my Heavenly Father guiding my footsteps to the most memorable experience of my life.” —Frances Gardner Watkins, author
I’ve always had a great desire to see Denmark. My Danish grandmother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated with my mother to America.
My daughter and I arrived in Silkeborg, Denmark, next to the village of Funder, my mother’s birthplace. The tourist office gave us a map to Funder with directions to a bed-and-breakfast inn. “Just hand the map to the bus driver, and he will know exactly where to let you off.”
We loaded our bags onto the bus, handed the map to the driver, and headed up the freeway. After about 15 minutes, the driver suddenly pulled off to the side of the freeway and shouted, “This is where you get off!” We didn’t move because we knew he was wrong. We were not in front of the inn, but out in the middle of nowhere. The driver insisted.
We dragged our bags across the busy freeway, down through a deep waterless canal, over a plowed field, and finally arrived at a distant home. The lady of the house, Margit, spoke very good English. Since the inn was 6 kilometers away, Margit graciously invited us to stay with her family.
I told Margit that my mother’s maiden name was Abildskov. Margit said there had been some neighbors named Abildskov, now deceased. However, she took me to see Gunnar and Ellen, relatives of the Abildskovs. They couldn’t speak English, but I felt I knew them. Margit interpreted. Ellen brought out her genealogy book with the names of four generations of my Danish family and my very own name on her record! I wept and hugged my family.
Margit said, “Frances, the place where your mother was baptized is on our farm.” We gathered some wildflowers from my mother’s baptismal site.
My mother was born in a home by the railroad station where my grandfather worked. Much to my great joy and wonder, Margit offered, “We own that home. I will take you there.”
Margit said, “Heaven is very close. It is a miracle you came to our home because others could not have helped you.”
I know there was divine intervention the day we were let off that bus. If we had stayed in the bed and breakfast, I doubt we could have learned anything at all about my family. I have gained a greater understanding of the love our Heavenly Father has for all of His children—even me. I am so grateful for my Grandmother Abildskov, for her courage and faith, and for my Heavenly Father guiding my footsteps to the most memorable experience of my life.
—Frances Gardner Watkins