Family History Moment: Learning about Ancestor Reassures Missionary

Contributed By Nicole Jacobsen, Church News contributor

  • 18 August 2016

An alley in Le Quartier Saint Pierre in Bordeaux, France.

In July of 2015, I came to the halfway point of my service as a missionary in the France Lyon Mission. President Scott D. Brown had been called as our new mission president, and my companion and I traveled to Bordeaux for our first zone conference with President and Sister Brown.

I had known previously that President Brown was the first cousin of my paternal grandmother, and I was excited to get to know him and make that connection.

As he made his presentation, he started to talk about an ancestor of his, beginning by tracing his lineage. I noticed the names of my great-great-grandmother and realized that this was my ancestor as well.

President Brown told the story of Serge Ballif, a Protestant preacher in Lausanne, Switzerland, within our mission boundaries.

Missionaries met Serge and taught him in the basement of the Lausanne Cathedral. They discovered how the Lord had prepared his grandfather, Jean François Ballif, who had written about the need for a restoration of the original church of Christ. After his own baptism, Serge helped in the establishment of the restored gospel in Switzerland and throughout that part of Europe. I had never heard those stories and was not aware that part of my ancestry was Swiss and French.

I felt a deep sense of gratitude to the Lord for the opportunity to be in that mission at that time. President Brown helped me turn my heart to my fathers without knowing beforehand and became a source of spiritual strength and guidance throughout the rest of my mission.

This was just the assurance I needed to know I was doing the right thing.

—Nicole Jacobsen, Palo Alto, California