Finding Grandpa Oskar


A true story
And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers (D&C 2:2).

Nathan stretched, yawned, and opened his eyes. He hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Why was he so happy? Then he remembered. Mom had told him that they were going to do something really special as soon as his older brother and sister had left for school. Nathan got dressed as fast as he could so that he wouldn’t miss a minute.

He ran out to the kitchen. Mom smiled at him. “You’re all ready to go! Great!”

“Where are we going?” Nathan was so excited that he could hardly stand it. “Ice skating? Shopping? To the zoo?”

“We’re going someplace much more important,” Mom said. “We’re going to the family history center.”

“Family history center?” Nathan flopped down into a chair. “You said you were going to take me someplace special today. You go to the family history center every week. What’s so special about it?”

“It’s time for you to find out!”

Thirty minutes later, Mom unlocked a door at the stake center, and they walked in. Nathan had never seen anything like this before. The room was just like many he’d seen in their ward building, but this one was filled with machines, cabinets, and bookcases.

“This is our stake family history center,” Mom said as she started turning on computers. “I do a little of our own family history on Wednesdays, but mostly I help other people do theirs. People depend on me to have the center open so that they can find their ancestors. Then they can get the temple work done for them.”

“You mean this is what happens before Tim and Sherry do baptisms for the dead at the temple?”

“That’s right, Nate. Before anyone can be baptized for a person, someone has to find out who that person is.”

“How do they do that?”

“If you have a little patience, it’s not hard,” Mom said. “Would you like to find someone who needs to be baptized?”

“I guess so.”

“I was hoping that you’d say that,” Mom said. “I’m on the trail of finding your great-great-grandpa Oskar Pederson. He came to America from Sweden.” Mom took out a microfilm and threaded it in the reader. After a few turns of the handle, a chart appeared with old-fashioned writing on it.

“Do I have to read this?” Nathan frowned.

“You don’t have to read all the words. See this number here? That’s the birth year. Grandpa Pederson was born in 1885. Now, just look down this column until you see 1885. Whenever you do, look over here and see if the name is Oskar.”

Nathan nodded. “I think I can do that. Can I try to find him all by myself?”

“OK, Nate. Good luck.”

Nathan started slowly turning the microfilm wheel, looking at one page after another. Some other people came and started working on the computers. Mom went from one to the other and helped them. Every so often she came back to Nathan. “How are you doing? Are you tired yet?”

“No, I’m still looking.”

About an hour later, Nathan shouted, “Mom, I found him!”

Mom hurried over and looked at the bright page on the reader. “You’re right,” she said softly. “There he is. And look, Nathan, you not only found him, you found his mom and dad. They’re your great-great-great-grandparents!”

“Wow!” Nathan touched the names on the reader with his finger. “Does this mean that you and Dad and Tim and Sherry can be baptized for these people?”

“That’s right, Nate,” Mom said. “You’ve just pushed our family tree back another generation. These people were lost until you found them! I’m sure that they’re really happy right now.”

“This is neat, Mom! Can I come with you the next time I don’t have school?”

“Nathan!” Mom pretended to be shocked. “You mean this is better than skating?”

“Much better than skating,” Nathan said. And he meant it.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Brad Teare