Friday, August 1, 2008

Desperately Seeking...Family

Genealogy has become a very popular hobby for many people in recent years. In much the same way that many of us wonder about where we came from in a spiritual sense...we also have an underlying need to know Who we come from with regard to our earthly family. This need for a family bond was illustrated in a recent study of foster children who were allowed to build a relationship with their rehabilitated parents. The result in a majority of cases was that the children blossomed as a result of having contact with blood relatives and that their behavioral problems diminished or completely disappeared. The affect of feeling connected to a family of your own cannot be denied--even less than perfect families!

If you dig around in family history, you will most likely find that most families are far from perfect. In my family history, there has been divorce, abuse, children who have died...but there has also been wonderful inspirational stories that make me proud to be a part of my family. There is the story of my GGGG-grandfather whose brother saved his life. My GGGG-GF fell ill while on a military march. Every evening his brother marched the full distance back to pick up him up and carry him back to camp. What brotherly love! What a Christ-like act. Later in life, this same brother who saved his life shot my GGGG-grandfather's eye out (accidentally) while they were trying to exterminate a skunk. Oh, you silly brothers...

I began my own journey into family history by asking my family to tell me stories (which my parents were quite good about doing!) about relatives I never knew. I have also done some searching of my own, including looking up the name of my Mother's family in the phone book and knocking on doors and saying to perfect strangers, "Hi, I'm Jocelyn...and I think that we are related." This has lead to many interesting stories and new relationships.

Part of the search for my Czekala family has lead me to Poland. I am happy to say that a good friend who I used to work with at CNN is going to Poland on a work assignment tomorrow. He has agreed to do some searching for my great-great grandmother Julianne Mamaj/Mamajek. I have been so curious about her, but haven't been able to get anywhere in my search for her for a long time now. I am praying that my friend David will have some luck during his trip...Divine intervention will be necessary, I'm sure, especially since David does not speak Polish! I don't know what I hope to know about her, but I just feel a need to know feel more connected to who she was and what her life was like. In part, this yearning to know my ancestors is surely what is meant by the scripture in Malachi that says, "he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."

If you are interested in starting to search for your ancestors, here are some good research tools to help you get started:

Family Search

Your Family History: Getting Started

The Phenomenon That Is You

Database Hit 150 Million Names


  1. GREAT post! I'm trying to get in myself interested in geneology. Well... I have an interest. I just find it waaaaay to overwhemling and confusing!

    I hope you find out some good stuff about your GGGrandmother Mamajek!

  2. Geneology is truly interesting,and a wonderful legacy to family and i am really amazed at those people who can do it patiently. My uncle who isn't a member of the church but already passed away made a family chart with all his family,in-laws and all the names in my father's side of the family and their families,etc., truly is overwhelming and confusing...and also i feel guilty for not having spent time to look at it again and try working on some of the names including his...thanks for this beautiful reminder.

  3. My late mom-in-law was very into geneology. Her husband sent me all of her research - stuff from Ellis Island, newspaper articles, birth records, etc, etc. It is crazy how much goes into it. She even went to Ireland to do research!

  4. A lot of people are more aware of this nowadays...they actually find it interesting to trace their ancestors and know more about their family history. But i also do hope that they would dig in deep as to the purpose of this marvelous work which is for the eternal salvation and progression of all our families...that life doesn't end here on earth and that there is a greater purpose to it. I am feeling very guilty about this --i must admit that it's a lot of work but imagine how great shall be our dead family and ancestor's joy if their own family would be able to do the saving ordinances for them. Thanks again Jocelyn, i'll try my very best to do at least one name from my family record before the end of this year..will update you on the progress and outcome.

  5. Jocelyn,
    I love reading your writing. I have heard from your mom that you are an enthusiastic and productive genealogist. I love genealogy and am continually trying to find out about one person or another. Every clue helps me to feel a little closer to that ancestor and I look forward to meeting them someday. Thanks for this post.